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Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Garden Terraces

For years we have struggled with the steep hillside at the back of our property. The previous owner had established a flower garden on the hill, but it had fallen into a neglected mass of invasive decorative grass and day lilies. It was much too wide to weed or cultivate. The steep hill made it difficult and sometimes dangerous to navigate. It was slippery and back-breaking. We called it the "jungle garden."


In the spring of 2009, we decided to begin terracing the hill as seen in the photo above. This section was built into two wide terraces which we planted with eight blueberry bushes.


Building terraces is labor-intensive and difficult, but once accomplished, the chores of gardening are far more manageable. In the photo above, you can see the middle section that was recently terraced in three steps. The lower two sections are planted with raspberries, while the upper section is for roses and flowers. There is a small walking path between the terraces.


This section of hill behind the greenhouse is still under construction. It will also be three narrow terraces. Unless you have very long arms, it's easier to reach to the center of each terrace if the width is about three feet.


The last section of the hill is not terraced, but the fall-bearing raspberries have taken hold nicely along with the rhubarb. We placed small pavers in a cruciform pattern to allow access for weeding and picking berries.  For now, I think we'll leave this section as it is.

We're happy that the project is nearly finished, and we look forward to many years of gardening on the hillside. Terracing is worth the effort.

7 comments:

  1. This is awesome. It's a nice example of a doable terrace for a hillside. I'm working on clearing and terracing my hill now, and this is good inspiration.

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  2. We are urban gardeners ourselves and just acquired a house with a very daunting hill. Your terrace looks so beautiful, functional and economical. How has it held up over the years?

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    1. Everything has held up well over the last three years with one exception: the small pavers used as narrow walking paths between the terraces tend to slope downhill and need to be re-set to be level again. My husband threatened to remove the pavers entirely and just mulch, but I'm certain the weeds and raspberries will fill in so quickly that there will no longer be any paths.

      We recommend terraces no wider than three feet unless you have the wingspan of a condor. Weeding and tending the wider beds is challenging!

      Good luck and thanks for reading!

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  3. I'm currently looking at my hillside and have no idea how to start building the terraced gardens. Do you have your plans written down? What soil/compost combination did you use for your berries?

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    1. We had no idea how to get started either, we just began shoveling dirt and slowly figuring out what we wanted. It's a bit of a geometry problem based on rise and run. How many terraces would you like? How wide do you want them? How steep is your hillside? We recommend narrow terraces and pathways between them. We amended the soil with compost and peat moss. Don't get discouraged, just get busy! Raspberries aren't fussy. Ours have filled in enthusiastically. It's March and we're still enjoying frozen berries from last summer. Good luck!

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    2. I want to do this on my half acre hillside, but I want to grow avacados and citrus

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  4. I love this! I am sending this to our lawn guy in hopes of having him create this. Have you had any erosion problems when it rains hard? Thank you for sharing this lovely garden!

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