terraced garden ideas with two levels

13 Beautiful Terraced Garden Ideas

If you’re lucky enough to have a terraced garden, you can create a unique outdoor space that maximises every inch of your property. Whether you’re looking for terraced garden ideas for your front garden or backyard, there are plenty of ways to make the most of this architectural feature. With thoughtful planning and design, your terraced garden can become a haven for relaxation and entertainment. In this article, we’ll explore 13 creative and inspiring terraced garden ideas to help you transform your terraced garden into a beautiful and functional outdoor space. From zoning your garden to using natural materials, adding water features, and more, these terraced garden ideas will help you make the most of your terrace house gardens.

What Is A Terraced Garden?

a terraced flower garden with steps

A terraced garden is a series of flat areas or platforms arranged in a step-like fashion on a slope or hillside. The primary purpose of terracing is to create level areas for planting and gardening on a hill, which allows for better drainage and prevents soil erosion. Terraced gardens are ideal for growing various plants, flowers, vegetables, and herbs, as they provide excellent conditions for gardening.

Terraced gardens usually provide ideal growing conditions due to their unique characteristics. Firstly, the terraced design of these gardens allows for better water retention and drainage. The flat areas of a terraced garden retain water, which is especially beneficial in areas with heavy rainfall or steep slopes that can cause soil erosion. Additionally, the terraced design provides different microclimates within the same garden, which is excellent for growing various plants that thrive in differing conditions. The different levels also allow for better sun exposure and air circulation, both critical factors for plant growth.

Benefits of A Terraced Garden

Terraced gardens offer a range of benefits to gardeners. Here are some of the top advantages of creating a terraced garden:

  • Maximising space – Terracing allows you to make the most of a sloping site and create usable spaces that would otherwise be unusable.
  • Reducing soil erosion – Terraces prevent soil from washing away during heavy rains, which reduces soil erosion.
  • Better drainage – Terraced gardens allow proper drainage, preventing plant waterlogging and root rot.
  • Increased growing capacity – With maximised space, terracing creates more planting room and allows gardeners to produce a wider variety of plants and vegetables.
  • Unique garden design – Terracing provides an opportunity to create a unique garden design with multiple levels and tiers, making it a stunning feature in any garden.
  • Easy access – Terraced gardens make it easier to access plants and garden beds, reducing the need for bending and stooping.
  • Improved microclimate – The different levels of a terraced garden create different microclimates, allowing the growth of a broader range of plants that require other growing conditions.
  • More efficient watering – Terraces allow for efficient watering systems, reducing water wastage and keeping plants healthy.
  • Better utilisation of sunlight – The varying levels in a terraced garden provide better utilisation of the sun, ensuring that plants receive the right amount of light to grow.
  • Reduced maintenance – Terraced gardens are easier to maintain as they are organised into manageable sections and require less pruning and weeding than traditional gardens.

Disadvantages of A Terraced Garden

While there are many advantages to creating a terraced garden, there are also some disadvantages. Here are a few potential drawbacks:

  • Cost – Terracing a garden can be expensive, particularly if you need to hire professionals to create the terraces or use specialised equipment.
  • Labour-intensive – Terracing a garden requires a lot of physical labour, mainly if the slope is steep or the soil is rocky.
  • Limited accessibility – Terraced gardens can be challenging to access for people with mobility issues or disabilities, mainly if there are steep steps or narrow pathways between levels.
  • Maintenance – Although terraced gardens have reduced care, the effort it takes to complete these tasks may be disadvantageous to some. Weeding, pruning, and fertilising may require more effort and time as the garden has multiple levels.
  • Soil erosion – While terraces can help prevent soil erosion, if they are not constructed properly or are poorly maintained, they can contribute to soil erosion and the loss of valuable topsoil.
  • Water runoff – If the garden doesn’t drain correctly, water can run off from the upper levels and cause erosion or damage to the lower levels.
  • Limited design options – The slope and terrain of the site may limit the design of a terraced garden, which may require creative solutions to overcome.
  • Garden access issues – The varying levels of a terraced garden can create accessibility issues, particularly for those with limited mobility.
  • Garden shape issues – The slope and terrain of the site may limit the available design options for a terraced garden.
  • Garden privacy issues in Cities – Terraced urban gardens may lack privacy due to proximity to neighbouring buildings.
  • Garden shade issues – The varying levels of a terraced garden can create shade issues, with some areas receiving more sunlight than others.
  • Garden lighting and power issues – Providing lighting and power to a terraced garden can be challenging, mainly if the garden is located far from a power source.
  • Garden noise issues – The multiple levels of a terraced garden may amplify noise from nearby roads or buildings.
  • Pest issues – Terraced gardens may attract cats and foxes, mainly if there are open areas for them to roam.
  • Lawn issues – The varying levels of a terraced garden may make it challenging to maintain a traditional lawn, with the need for different mowing heights and specialised equipment.

How To Plan A Terraced Garden

Creating a successful terraced garden requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some steps to follow when planning your terraced garden:

  1. Assess the site – Begin by assessing the slope and terrain of your site. Determine the angle of the hill, the type of soil, and the amount of sunlight the site receives. Consider existing features, such as trees or rocks, that may impact the design.
  2. Determine the purpose – Decide how you want to use your terraced garden. Will it be for ornamental, edible plants, or a combination? Consider the types of plants you want to grow and their specific needs for soil, sunlight, and water.
  3. Plan the layout – Sketch a rough design for your terraced garden, considering the site’s slope, each terrace’s desired height and width, and existing features. Consider how you will access each garden level, and plan for pathways and steps.
  4. Choose the materials – Decide on the materials you will use to create your terraces. Common materials include timber, stone, brick, and concrete. Consider the cost, durability, and aesthetic appeal of each material.
  5. Consider drainage – Proper drainage is essential for a successful terraced garden. Plan for drainage channels, French drains, or other methods to ensure water does not build up and cause erosion.
  6. Think about lighting – Consider the lighting needs of your terraced garden. Will you need to install lights to illuminate the garden at night? Consider how you will run power to your garden and where you will place the light fixtures.
  7. Choose plants – Once you have a design, choose the plants you want to grow on each terrace. Consider the amount of sunlight each area receives, the soil type and pH, and the water requirements of each plant.
  8. Maintenance – Finally, consider the ongoing maintenance requirements of your terraced garden. Plan how you will water, fertilise, and prune your plants, and ensure you have easy access to each level of the garden for maintenance tasks.

13 of the Best Terraced Garden Ideas

a two level garden with fast growing hedges for privacy

Designing a terrace garden is a beautiful way to add depth and interest to any outdoor space. You can create a functional, multi-level garden by breaking a slope into a series of level tiers. Here, we’ll explore 13 terraced garden ideas to help inspire your design. Let’s get started!

1. Work Off Any Existing Walls

Terraced gardens often have at least one existing wall, providing a solid foundation for the tiers and acting as a natural boundary for privacy. Depending on the garden’s style and the walls’ location, they can add an interesting architectural element. For example, if the walls are brick or stone, they can complement the natural materials used in the garden design.

To work around existing walls, you can also incorporate plants and other features to soften their appearance. For example, climbing plants like ivy, jasmine, or honeysuckle can be trained to grow up the walls, adding a natural and softening element to the space. Additionally, you can add features like hanging baskets or wall-mounted planters to bring in more greenery and create a vertical garden effect. You can create a unique and beautiful outdoor space by working with the existing walls in a terraced garden.

2. Design With Parallel Lines

Working parallel lines into your terraced garden ideas can create a cohesive and pleasing aesthetic. For example, using retaining walls made of stone or planting rows of trees and hedges can create a series of horizontal parallel lines that draw the eye across the different tiers of the garden. This creates a sense of continuity and flow between the different levels.

To incorporate parallel lines in your terraced garden ideas, you could use materials such as railway sleepers or brick to create retaining walls or plant rows of trees or hedges along the edges of each level. Another way to incorporate parallel lines is by using geometric shapes such as squares or rectangles in the layout of the garden design.

It would be best if you balanced the scale and proportion of the parallel lines with the size of the garden. For smaller spaces, using thinner and more closely spaced parallel lines can help create the illusion of a larger area, while for more extensive gardens, using broader and more spaced parallel lines can add depth and interest.

Additionally, playing with the contrast between light and dark colours can also enhance the parallel lines. For example, light-coloured stone walls with darker paving can create a striking visual effect.

3. Create A Cohesive Finish With Decking

seating in a terraced garden on decking

Decking can be a great addition to your terraced garden ideas, especially when dealing with multiple levels and awkward corners. It provides a seamless visual backdrop that can tie different garden areas together, including the steps. With a variety of materials and finishes available, decking can also add an element of texture and colour to the space.

One of the key benefits of involving decking in your terraced garden ideas is that it is easy to maintain. Unlike grass or other ground covers, decking does not require mowing or weeding, making it a low-maintenance option for those who want to enjoy their garden more. Additionally, when properly installed, decking can feel solid and secure, providing a stable outdoor living and entertaining surface.

Pay special attention to the edges of each decked element to create a cohesive finish with decking. Neatly finishing off the edges is crucial as they will be visible from all angles of the terraced garden. In addition, consider using a different colour or material for the edging to create a contrasting effect or keep it in line with the rest of the decking for a seamless look.

When choosing the type of decking to use, consider the climate and conditions in your area. Some materials, like hardwood, are more durable and weather-resistant than others, while composite decking can provide a lower-maintenance option. Whatever material you choose, ensure you properly install it so it lasts many years.

4. Incorporate Tiles For A Modern Look

Tiles can be a great alternative to decking with terraced garden ideas, offering a sleek, modern look that can complement the existing design of your property. Large, neutral-coloured stone tiles can give your garden a contemporary feel.

One of the advantages of using tiles is that they are generally more durable than wood decking and easier to maintain, making them a practical choice for terraced garden ideas. When choosing tiles for your garden, opting for robust, crack-resistant, and weed-proof materials is vital. Porcelain or ceramic tiles are good options as they are also permeable, allowing for proper drainage and avoiding the formation of puddles on your terraces.

To create a cohesive look with tiles, consider using the same type of tile throughout the space, or choose complementary materials for different levels or sections. For example, pairing neutral-coloured tiles with green plants and colourful flowers can help to create a stunning contrast that will enhance the beauty of your garden.

5. Don’t Neglect Shelter

Shelter is essential in any garden, and you should definitely not ignore it in your terraced garden ideas. One of the key benefits of having a cover in your garden is sun protection, which can help keep you and your family cool and comfortable during the hottest parts of the day. But shelter can also help protect against wind, rain, and other elements that can make spending time in the garden less enjoyable.

The need for shelter can vary depending on the garden’s orientation. For example, west facing gardens tend to get the most sun in the afternoon and evening, so it’s essential to provide shade during those times. This could be in the form of an awning or umbrella or even a simple garden screen or fence. On the other hand, north west facing gardens are more exposed to wind and rain, so consider adding windbreaks or tall plants to provide protection.

The focus should be on providing morning sun protection for east facing gardens. This could mean planting trees or shrubs to create natural shade or installing a shade sail or awning to provide a more structured shelter. In general, strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics regarding cover in your terraced garden ideas. The protection you choose should be practical and effective but also blend seamlessly into the overall design of your garden.

Here are some more garden shade ideas to include in a terraced garden:

  • Garden umbrellas or parasols
  • Retractable awnings
  • Shade sails
  • Pergolas or gazebos with retractable canopies or shading materials
  • Tensioned shade sails
  • Arbours or arches covered with climbing plants
  • Trees or large shrubs strategically placed to cast shade
  • Temporary shade structures like pop-up canopies or tents
  • Hanging curtains or outdoor blinds
  • Living walls with plants that offer natural shade, such as ferns and ivy.

6. Choose Plants Based On The Conditions of Your Garden

When selecting plants to include in your terraced garden ideas, it is vital to consider the environmental conditions of your garden, such as the amount of sunlight, moisture levels, soil quality, and microclimate. By choosing plants that are well-suited to these conditions, you can ensure that they thrive and contribute to the overall aesthetic of your garden. Here are some tips on how to choose plants based on the conditions of your garden:

  1. Sunlight: Consider the amount of sunlight your garden receives throughout the day. Some plants require full sun to grow and bloom, while others prefer partial or complete shade. Examples of full-sun plants include lavender, roses, and sunflowers, while ferns, hostas, and begonias prefer partial or full shade.
  2. Moisture levels: The moisture levels in your garden will also impact plant growth. Some plants require moist soil, while others can tolerate dry conditions. Succulents and cacti can handle dry soil, while hydrangeas and ferns prefer moist soil.
  3. Soil quality: Different plants require different soil types and nutrient levels. Before selecting plants, consider the pH level and texture of your soil. Acid-loving plants such as azaleas and blueberries thrive in acidic soil, while vegetables and herbs prefer rich, well-draining soil.
  4. Microclimate: Microclimate refers to the local climate conditions in your garden, including temperature, wind exposure, and humidity. Plants well-suited to your garden’s microclimate will have a better chance of survival and growth. For example, Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and thyme thrive in hot, dry conditions, while ferns and mosses prefer cooler, more humid environments.
  5. Natural structural support: Choose plants with strength and good natural support to withstand outdoor elements. For instance, bamboo is an excellent choice for creating natural screens or privacy walls, as it is strong and resilient. Similarly, climbing plants like wisteria, ivy, and honeysuckle can provide both support and beautiful visual interest when trained along trellises, walls, or pergolas. Trees like oak, maple, and cherry offer sturdy branches and trunks that can add height and structural interest to a garden while also providing shade and shelter for other plants and wildlife.

7. Try Raised Bed Planting

raised bed plants in a terraced garden

Raised beds are a great addition to a terraced garden as they offer many benefits. For example, they provide excellent drainage, which is crucial in areas with poor soil or heavy rainfall, allow you to control the soil quality, and make gardening easier on your back, as you can avoid bending over to tend to your plants.

You can construct raised beds from a variety of materials, such as wood, stone or brick. They can be installed in different shapes and sizes to fit the contours of your terraced garden. For example, you could create long, narrow beds along the length of each terrace or circular beds in the centre of each level.

When choosing plants for your raised beds, you should consider the conditions of your garden. For example, if your terraced garden is sunny and dry, consider planting drought-tolerant plants such as lavender, sedum and succulents. However, for shady areas, try planting ferns, hostas and heuchera. If you are planting vegetables, choose varieties that are suited to your local climate and the amount of sun your garden receives.

Overall, raised bed planting is a great way to maximise your planting space and create a visually appealing garden. Just make sure to plan your beds carefully and choose plants that are well-suited to the conditions of your garden.

8. Plant A Vertical Garden

A vertical garden is a type of garden where plants are grown vertically up a wall or other vertical surface rather than horizontally in the ground. In a terraced garden, a vertical garden can be a great way to make use of limited space and add visual interest to your garden. The benefits of planting a vertical garden include increased plant diversity, improved air quality, and enhanced aesthetic appeal.

Some good plants to include in your vertical terraced garden ideas include trailing ivy, ferns, succulents, herbs, and small flowering plants like petunias and pansies. When choosing plants, consider the amount of sunlight and shade they require, as well as their growth habits and size. It’s also important to ensure proper irrigation and drainage, especially if the vertical garden is located on an upper terrace.

To create a living wall in your terraced garden, use the vertical sides of sleepers or other walls as a surface for planting. You could also fill troughs with a mix of plants that vary in texture and colour to create a visually stunning display. With proper care and maintenance, a living wall can provide year-round interest and beauty to your terraced garden.

9. Connect Your Garden’s Levels With A Slope

Connecting different levels of a terraced garden with a sloped pathway or staircase is functional and interesting. You can make a slope with steps or gentle curves, depending on the style of the garden. Also, consider using materials that blend with the natural surroundings, such as stone or wood. A well-designed slope enhances the overall aesthetic of the garden and makes it more accessible. However, ensure that the slope is not too steep, especially if it is intended for elderly or disabled people to use.

10. Add Visual Interest With A Water Feature

a path with a pond in an outdoor space following terraced garden ideas

Including a water feature in your terraced garden ideas brings a sense of tranquillity and relaxation to the space. A water feature adds a calming but visually pleasing touch to a garden and will help to tie together the different levels.

If you’re considering a water feature, think about incorporating it into the natural landscape. For example, you could build a pond on the lower level of the garden and allow the water to cascade down the slope in a series of small waterfalls. Or you could build a small fountain into a retaining wall or use a pre-formed water feature that can be integrated into the terraced design.

However, think about the practical considerations of a water feature, such as the source of the water, the size of the feature, and any safety concerns. You may also want to consider incorporating the water feature into your irrigation and drainage system to conserve water and minimise waste.

There are plenty of water features you may want to consider for your terraced garden ideas, but here are some of our favourites:

  • Cascading waterfalls
  • Pond or pool
  • Fountain
  • Water wall
  • Stream or creek
  • Reflecting pool
  • Birdbath or bird fountain
  • Rain chains or rain curtain
  • Bubble fountain
  • Japanese-style water feature (such as a Tsukubai)
  • Water trough planter

 11. Zone Each Terraced Level

Zoning in a garden refers to dividing different areas of the garden into zones based on their intended use or function. Zoning can help to create a more cohesive and functional garden design. In a terraced garden, zoning can be particularly useful as each level can be used for a different purpose, such as seating areas, planting beds, or water features.

To zone each terraced level, you should consider the intended use of each level and how it fits into the overall design of the garden. For example, the top level may be used for seating and entertaining, while the middle levels may be used for planting beds, and the bottom level for a water feature. Use hardscaping materials such as stones, pavers or decking to mark out the different zones and make clear visual distinctions between each area.

When zoning your terraced garden, consider factors such as access and drainage. Make sure that each level is easily accessible and that water can drain away properly. Also, if you plan to have a seating area, ensure that it is situated in a comfortable and sheltered spot.

 12. Use Natural Materials

Using natural materials in your terraced garden ideas can enhance the overall aesthetic and create a cohesive, organic feel to the space. Natural materials also tend to be more durable and sustainable than synthetic materials. Additionally, they can be more cost-effective in the long run and require less maintenance.

Some examples of natural materials to consider incorporating in your terraced garden ideas include:

  • Stone – Whether used for retaining walls or pathways, natural stone can add a timeless and rustic look to a terraced garden. It is also extremely durable and can withstand outdoor elements well.
  • Wood – Wood is a versatile and attractive natural material that can be used for many purposes in a terraced garden design, such as raised beds, benches, and pergolas. It is also relatively easy to work with and can be stained or painted to match the desired aesthetic.
  • Gravel – Gravel can be a great option for creating pathways or filling in between larger stones in retaining walls. It is also permeable, allowing for good drainage in the garden.
  • Plants – Plants themselves can also be considered natural materials, and they can add texture, colour, and life to a terraced garden design. Consider incorporating plants with interesting foliage, such as ferns or succulents, or plants with showy flowers, such as roses or hydrangeas.

By incorporating natural materials in your terraced garden ideas, you can create a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also durable and sustainable.

13. Take A Look At It From Different Angles

a terraced garden with container plants

Taking a multi-angle approach to bring your terraced garden ideas together can help you create a cohesive and harmonious space that is pleasing to the eye from all directions. You’ll want to think about how your garden will look from both above and below, as well as from different viewing points within your outdoor space.

One way to make the most of your terraced garden’s potential is to think about how it will look from inside your home or other indoor spaces. Coordinating the colours and style of outdoor furniture with your indoor decor can help create a seamless transition between your indoor and outdoor living spaces.

For front garden terraced ideas, consider stepping down planters on either side of the central steps to create a striking entrance to your home. You can use colourful and fragrant plants to add impact to your front garden while creating a welcoming environment for visitors. By taking the time to consider your garden from different angles, you can create a space that is both beautiful and functional.

Final Thoughts on Terraced Garden Ideas

With the right planning and careful consideration of your garden’s unique conditions, a terraced garden can provide a stunning backdrop to your home and outdoor activities. From adding vertical gardens to incorporating natural materials, there is a multitude of creative and practical terraced garden ideas to suit any style and budget. So why not start planning your own terraced house garden today and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of your very own landscaped space?

FAQs

How Do I Make My Terraced Garden Look Nice?

Choose a consistent style and colour scheme for your garden design.
Use vertical elements such as climbing plants, trellises, or tall planters to add height and interest.
Incorporate seating areas or outdoor furniture to create functional spaces.
Use lighting to highlight features and create an ambience in the evenings.
Plant a mix of evergreen and seasonal plants for year-round interest.

How Do I Terrace My Garden?

Start by assessing the slope of your garden and the desired height of each terrace
Use retaining walls or other structural elements to create each level
Consider adding steps or a gradual slope for easy access between terraces
Add appropriate drainage systems to prevent erosion and excess water buildup

How Do You Plan A Terrace?

Determine the purpose and function of each terrace, such as seating areas, gardens, or paths
Consider the overall style and design of your outdoor space and choose materials accordingly
Take into account the slope of your garden and plan the height and size of each terrace accordingly
Ensure proper drainage and irrigation for each level

Which Colour Is Best For A Terrace Garden?

The colour scheme of your terrace garden will depend on your personal preference and the style of your outdoor space.
Neutral colours such as white, beige, and grey can create a modern and sophisticated look.
Bold colours such as red, orange, and yellow can add energy and vibrancy to your garden design.
Consider using plants with colourful foliage or flowers to add pops of colour to your terrace garden.

How Do You Landscape A Sloping Garden In The Uk?

Start by assessing the soil type, drainage, and sunlight conditions of your sloping garden.
Use retaining walls or terracing to create level areas for planting and functional spaces.
Consider incorporating paths or steps to make your garden more accessible.
Choose plants that are suitable for the soil and lighting conditions of your garden, and plant them strategically to prevent erosion and runoff.
Consider using raised beds or containers to make gardening easier and more manageable.

Read More: Downward Sloping Garden Ideas

Resources

Homes & Gardens. (n.d.). How to plan a garden. Retrieved from https://www.homesandgardens.com/advice/how-to-plan-a-garden [accessed 21/05/23]

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