Saturday, November 29, 2008

Making Terraced Gardens For Slopes

If your property has an incline or slope, it can be turned into a lovely garden oasis. Where once weeds grew, flowers could grow in abundance. Making a vegetable gardening organic style is another idea. The slope can become a lovely planted area despite the rugged terrain, turning a liability into an asset.

Terrace The Terrain

Making level areas on a slope with terraces makes it easier to put in plants and turn a hillside into a gorgeous landscape. Making the area level makes it so much easier to work and walk there. Making terraces is without a doubt a lot of work, however, and can be expensive depending on the materials used.

At one time, railroad ties were considered a good source of material for making retaining walls for terraces. They’ve fallen out of favor these days, and especially aren’t recommended for organic gardens. The problem is the creosote used to preserve the wood. Creosote is a toxic substance, and contact with it can irritate the skin. If you breath in the fumes from creosote, they can irritate the respiratory tract.

Bottom line, creosote is toxic stuff. Direct contact is bad, and it can leach into the water and soil. When it’s in the soil, it’s available for the plants to absorb, and if you’re growing vegetable plants, you’re going to eat whatever chemicals are in the plants. All things considered, creosote treated lumber for your terracing isn’t a good idea.

Use Safe Wall Materials And Placement

For small projects where you’re just leveling out a little slope, the new landscaping boards such as those found at Gardens Alive! that are made out of recycled plastics are an option. With a steeper slope, use bricks, concrete blocks, modular retaining wall blocks or stone. The different masonry options require varying levels of expertise, so be sure you know how to build walls with the materials you opt to use.

Since the idea of terracing is to provide level beds, the steepness of the slope will dictate the height of the walls. If the walls are higher, they will obviously also have to be sturdier, and better anchored to the hillside. It's especially important large terraces are anchored well into the slope at each end. They also need proper drainage.

The dirt behind the walls will be a lot of weight pushing on them, and it will increase even more after a rain. If walls aren't well built, they could possibly bow outwards or even outright collapse.

There are landscaping contractors that can do the work for you if building terraces seems like to big a task to do on your own. Obviously that's a more expensive option, since you have to pay labor costs, as well as paying for materials.

Plant Those Terraces.

Enriching the soil before planting is always a good idea, especially considering slopes often have poor soil due to erosion. Some compost, rich loam, well-rotted cow manure, peat or other soil amendments can be worked into the soil to enrich it so plants will grow better. Bear in mind what sort of plants you wish to grow. If you choose those that do well in poor soil, don't worry about enriching the existing soil.

When the soil is ready, choose your plants, whether flowers or vegetables ( - Offers quality plants at great prices). Plants that vine work well along the top edges of the walls so they can trail over the sides.

Long Lasting Terraces.

Creating terraces on a slope is a lot of work. Sometimes it's also a lot of expense. However,it’s a great way to eradicate an eyesore, improve your land, and provide another place for an organic garden full of flowers or vegetables.

More planting space is always a good thing.

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