Terracing the Garden Area

We’ve finally gotten enough rain to tell us where we shouldn’t put our garden… The problem being, we’ve already put our garden there…

The garden sits in the spot that receives the most uninterrupted sunlight. It just so happens it’s at the base of a hill where we’ve experienced a good deal of water run off. Part of the driveway has also been washed out so we have a couple options, in order of most desirable to least:

  1.  Dig a swale and terrace out the hill area. The rise and run of the hill is not steep at all so it shouldn’t be difficult to dig about an 8″ deep swale and then terrace out the planting area. This would enable more natural use of rain water without flooding the area at the base of the hill. It would also do more to prevent topsoil erosion. It’s also the most cost effective option.This Beautiful terraced hillside garden would be nice to have in the long term. Short term, I’m thinking of a check log terrace like this one.
  2. Build raised beds. This is effective but less desirable in that we would have to buy lumber or railroad ties for the bed frames, and then fill the beds. If we bought fill dirt, we run the risk of weedy dirt. If we just used woodchip mulch, we’d have to wait for it to break down. Either way, we would be hard pressed to have it ready in time for planting and it would cost more in labor and materials than the terracing would.
  3. Move the garden area. This option is my least favorite because it means that not only has our effort thus far been fruitless, but that we basically start all over again from square one in planning and layout and then have to re-lay all the mulch which would have to sit and break down. This would take time that we wouldn’t really have if we wanted a garden this year. It’d also require the removal of several large trees to allow for sunlight to reach the garden plants. Eh… Not something I want to do in the next two months.

So my gut says build a terrace garden this year and see what happens… I’ll get to work on that plan and let you know how it goes.

2 thoughts on “Terracing the Garden Area

  1. Hi! I have some thoughts on raised beds in muddy spots. I use them in my own lawn…. Not sure where you live, but I bet you have a local Craigslist page that will help you put together a BIG raised garden bed for nearly free.
    First, for edging, don’t use lumber or railroad ties. They can leech unwanted chemicals into the dirt, many of which are known carcinogens. Instead, it’s time to borrow a truck and hop on Craigslist. Many times, especially near suburbs, people will offer cut wood and downed trees for free. Just go out, pick em up and bring em home. Split them and use them as your new garden bed walls. Use some clay dirt, sand and straw packed together a a grout and stack them like bricks to make them as deep as you want.
    As for dirt there’s a few great options. Local horse farms will often be able to provide you with as much manure as you could possibly want for free. Reach out to local livestock owners. Is there someone who would ship you a truckload of cow manure? Friends with pet or meat rabbits? You can also ask if they have old bales of straw and hay, sawdust from local lumber mills or logging sites. You can build biomass FAST and FREE by reaching out to people who have too much and no idea what to do with it. Ask your local municipality or neighbors if they can bring you their leaf litter from trees in the fall. Occasionally you’ll find free topsoil and sand on craigslist too. Some of the things will need time to break down, but others will be things like aged horse manure, sand or old leaf litter and ready to use!
    So with a little elbow grease it’s very possible to make raised beds that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Incidentally my next door neighbor is a cattle pasture. So plenty of manure available, and I have plenty of downed trees on the property that need a use. We have our own rabbit for composting manure as well so it would seem great minds think alike. I’ll avoid treated lumber and rail road ties. Thank you for the advice!

      Liked by 1 person

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