Terraced garden ideas for a multi-dimensional outdoor space

A terraced garden can turn a delicate, rambling garden into a lively, multi-dimensional outdoor living space that’s so much easier to use and enjoy. Terracing is the perfect way to deal with sloping terrain, as it breaks it up into manageable flat areas.

When thinking about your terraced garden ideas, give each area a specific purpose; for example, relaxing, socializing, eating, storing, playing, even adding a water feature or wildlife pond.

Terracing is also a great way to tackle an existing arrangement of messy different levels, bringing together flat areas, retaining walls and steps into an attractive, cohesive whole that will have the “wow factor”.

terrace garden ideas

Once you decide to take the plunge, you will be overflowing with garden ideas for your new terraced garden because you manage space in a multidimensional way. Don’t just think up and down the slope, but also forward into the potential space above ground level, and on either side as well. As a result, you will have so much space to play!

Here are some amazing terraced garden tips to inspire you.

1. Work with existing walls

Terraced garden with seating area and steps

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Some terraced gardens will have at least one existing wall to remove. This could be the back or the front of the house, a back garden wall or a fence. Others will be self-contained and exist only on their own as a means of creating movement from one level of one garden to another.

If you’re working on existing walls, a good tip is to keep the materials you choose for the decking similar to those the house is built from or create a confident design-focused contrast – for example, gray slate anthracite, against the white coated house of the walls.

2. Use a deck to put it all together

Fully landscaped terraced garden

(Image credit: Trex)

If you’re dealing with multiple levels, awkward corners, and a bit of a messy environment, the patio provides a seamless visual backdrop. It brings together every aspect of a terraced garden, including the steps. The decking also provides an easy to maintain finish and if installed correctly should be very strong and secure.

Pay particular attention to the neat finish of the edges of each terrace element as they will be exposed from all angles of the terraced garden.

3. Use tiles for a contemporary style

gray tiled garden terraces

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re not a fan of patios, tiles can help give your landscaping ideas a modern edge. “If you prefer the modern vibe and want to achieve a contemporary look in your patio garden, large neutral colored stone tiles can do just that,” says Harry Patte-Dobbs, exterior design expert at GardenBuildingsDirect. (opens in a new tab).

“Make sure you opt for tiles that have a strong and durable surface, are resistant to cracking, resistant to weeds and are made of a permeable material to prevent puddles and provide drainage.”

4. Introduce elements of shade and shelter

Lounge area under black pergola

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your terraced garden faces south, the upper levels will be exposed and can become uncomfortable to sit on in hot, sunny weather. You should therefore look to include garden shade ideas such as pergolas planted with vigorous climbing plants such as vines – they will love the sun – clematis and honeysuckle. Or if there is a convenient wall to attach it to and the place is not too windy, attach a simple sail.

5. Include raised beds

Patio with seating area and raised garden beds

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Some terraced gardens don’t have seating or lounging areas, but are filled with plants in raised beds, usually constructed from rails or stone blocks for a natural look. This is a great use of space and will expand the planting area of ​​your garden leaving room to grow flowers and vegetables.

Bed planning requires care. Consider draining, as too much retained water could make the earthwork unstable. If you are planting in a terraced garden, consider placing plants that require more shade and watering towards the bottom of the terrace as rainwater will run down and collect.

6. Bring a living wall

Vertical garden on fence

(Image credit: Growing Revolution)

Once you have the landscaping in place, there are plenty of easy garden ideas to bring it to life. “I love using rails to create steps, but even better, to create a green oasis, use the vertical sides of the rails as a surface for a living wall,” says Tom Luck, a gardening expert at growing revolution (opens in a new tab).

“You can fill your living wall tubs with textured, colorful flowers and foliage to add depth and life to your patio garden.”

7. Consider the view from all angles

Terraced garden with outdoor wooden dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When thinking about how to plan the planning of a garden, it is important to imagine how it will look from all angles. This is very important with a terrace garden as its shape and form will dominate your outdoor space.

If you’re starting from your living room, for example, coordinate the color palette and style of outdoor furniture. If you’re looking for front patio garden ideas, consider lowering planters on either side of the center steps, to create an entrance to your home with impact, color and fragrance.

8. Include a slope to connect levels

Terrace at the edge of a pond with ramp

(Image credit: The Swimming Pond Company)

Usually the different levels of a terraced garden are connected by the addition of steps. However, if you or a family member have mobility issues, or if young children will enjoy the terraced garden, another idea is to design a sloping path and/or ramps instead.

You can include multiple access routes at different levels if you have the space. However, do not overload the area with too many steps and slopes as this will reduce the usable space, and it can be quite expensive to dig and build.

9. Give each terrace a goal

Blue shed in a terraced garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

This is the fun part. Sketch out how you see your ideal terraced garden functioning before you even start thinking about the precise sizing of specific areas. Some themes are quite consistent; a place to sit, positioned to maximize the sun at certain times of the day or an unobstructed view, should be part of every terraced garden.

However, remember that each terrace garden is unique. You can include cabana ideas or even turn part of the patio into a dedicated hot tub space.

10. Source of natural materials for patio walls

White shed in the garden with lawn and terrace

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A terraced garden sits squarely in the landscape, so as a general rule, it’s best to use natural or natural-looking materials to bring your ideas to life. These can be wooden rails (new or reclaimed, depending on whether you’re looking for a modern or rustic style), treated wood or a realistic and resistant composite for the terraces, or stone or slate for the walls. and other supporting elements.

Gardener Robert Hughes takes a hands-on approach to materials. “The most structurally sound material would be my suggestion for a terraced garden. Who wants to spend all that money only to fail after several years? He favors walls constructed of concrete blocks which can then be clad with natural materials.

“They can be faced with all kinds of beautiful materials, from cedar to porcelain or natural stone walls/cladding.”

How to arrange my garden terrace?

In most gardens, you can choose where you want to plant certain flowers and arrange the seating as you wish. But with a terraced garden you have less choice as you have to go with the position of the slope or inclination. So that may mean you’re looking for inspiring north-facing garden ideas, as part of your terraced garden may be in the shade for much of the day.

How can I improve the slope of my garden?

If you are looking for sloping garden ideas, terracing is the ideal solution. This will make the garden much easier to use and enjoy. But sometimes the slope can be too steep or too gentle and you will have to step in to get it just right.

With a very steep slope you may need to include retaining walls or gambion baskets (wire cages filled with pebbles) to avoid having to dig up too much earth, or you may want to bring up spare earth on either side to help around the slope; you will need the advice of a structural engineer.

If you want a terraced garden and your slope is not steep enough, depending on the site, it is possible to dig a new bottom terrace layer at a lower level. This type of digging is less disruptive and cheaper than digging on a steep slope. The stockpile soil can be reused elsewhere in the garden, including – mixed with good quality compost – raised beds as part of your terracing program.

How to terrace a garden?

If your slope is fairly gentle, the easiest way to terracing a garden in the UK is to set wooden sleepers into the ground at regular distances to create the ‘rooms’ you want, explains the garden designer . Robert Hughes (opens in a new tab). Then you can decide to keep the flat surfaces grassed or have them terraced, paved or gravelled.

Earthworks on a steeper slope will require the intervention of a professional; you may want to consider how much a garden designer costs to plan the job properly. Alternatively, you can also consult the cost of landscaping the garden to ensure that the work is carried out professionally and safely.