My garden makeover: Terracing the slope with retaining timber planters

How to landscape a sloped garden into terraces with retaining wall planters in pressure-treated timber to create a patio, lawn and flower borders.

It’s been a month since I last blogged about my garden, so I thought I’d share with you some of the changes we’ve made and what’s next on the DIY to-do list…

I mentioned previously that 2019 will be the year that we complete our garden makeover. After two years of living with what was, let’s be honest, a wasteland of a garden, I decided that I couldn’t put up with it anymore. I wanted the kind of garden where I could take a cup of tea outside to sit amongst the flowers on a sunny day. I wanted to eat my breakfast outside on a fresh summer morning. And I wanted my friends’ children to have space to play on a tidy lawn.

However, none of that can happen if I don’t have any borders for the flowers to grow in, or a patio for a garden table to sit on, or any grass for the kids to run around on. So that made my to-do list pretty easy to make: 1. Borders, 2. Patio, 3. Lawn. Can it really be as easy as that?

Well, so far, it hasn’t been all that easy, and I’ll tell you why: our garden is on a rather substantial slope. I didn’t really notice it at first when we moved in and, seeing as we haven’t stepped foot into the garden for more than a couple of minutes at a time over the past two years, we simply didn’t realise how much of this slope would need to be ‘moved’ in order to get a flat area where a patio could be laid.

We considered building decking and raising up the deck rather than landscaping the slope of the garden, but that wouldn’t really solve the problem further down the garden. In fact, it would probably make it a little more obvious, as you’d be able to see under the deck from the bottom of the garden! So, after a lot of thinking, we decided that a patio was the only way to go.

You may remember that I moved my caravan up the garden to it’s ‘final resting place’ last year. Just creating a flat area on which the caravan could be parked was an effort. We had to dig out about 2 foot at the top end of the slope and smooth it out down to the existing earth at the bottom end. With the help of my brother (and his sturdy off-road vehicle) we towed the caravan up the garden and into its parking ‘hole’ and that’s where it will stay.

Knowing just how much earth we had to move for that project meant that we were prepared when we started to landscape the rest of the garden last month. We decided to build some retaining walls to terrace the slope into three flat areas. And my husband had the clever idea of turning each retaining wall into a sturdy wooden planter. That way, we had a space to pile in all the soil we were digging out to make the 3 areas flat.

Having read up on the different types of timber and how it can be used in DIY projects, we ordered a batch of pressure-treated timber from the local timber merchant in order to build the planters. It was an exciting day when a lorry arrived and hoisted a load of wood into our garden. We were finally ready to get started!

The sawing and constructing began in earnest and the retaining wall/planters we’re completed within in a day. We then piled in the earth that we were digging out from the bottom of the slope and filled them to the very top. We’re almost ready to start planting them up, really!

The three large planters enclose the space at the top of the garden where the patio will eventually be laid. We want to be able to step down from the patio onto the next terrace (a lawned area) so there’s a gap in the centre of the planters, which will eventually have a 2 steps down from the patio.

We’re planning to add a privacy screen to each of the planters so that we can enjoy breakfast on our patio without being overlooked. This will also give us a trellis-like support that we can grow climbers up, to add even more privacy.

The next phase is levelling off the top part of the garden before laying a patio. Choosing which paving to use has been a bit of a headache so far; I want it to look lovely but I really can’t justify spending a huge amount of money on it. And it seems like every style of paving that I like will cost a small fortune to cover the area we’ve set aside for the patio.

I’ll let you know how I get on with the patio in my next garden blog post and please let me know if you come across any paving bargains as I’d love to cut the cost of my garden makeover, otherwise it simply won’t get finished haha!

This article is a sponsored collaboration. The pink links in the content indicate a sponsored link or information source. The blog post reflects my own experience and the sponsor hasn’t had any control over my content 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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