BUILDING A TERRACE GARDEN

When Doug was hiking in Nepal years ago, he saw many examples of how the people in that steep land terrace the garden beds they depend on.  We decided to do the same on our own slanty land.

Fortunately, our rock wall builder still had a few more rocks that he salvaged when he redid the retaining wall for a bank in a nearby town.  These  slabs of limestone were quarried nearby and had a former life as a retaining wall for a bank, also dealing with the hilly nature of the Driftless Area.

Doug worked out the details with Bruce Lease, our excavator and Tom Walczak of Landscape Construction, Dodgeville WI, who set the stone.

Doug worked out the details with Bruce Lease, our excavator and Tom Walczak of Landscape Construction, Dodgeville WI, who set the stone.

We had always planned to have a garden in the sunny area down hill and to the west of the house.

We had always planned to have a garden in the sunny area down hill and to the west of the house.

wide-angle

Tom started setting the stone.

Tom started setting the stone.

As the rock wall went up, Bruce would bring in soil.  First he used top soil he had scraped off the building site.   It was o.k. soil.

As the rock wall went up, Bruce would bring in soil. First he used top soil he had scraped off the building site. It was o.k. soil.

Tom builds walls to last.  (Not like the one these stones were used for previously.)  Doug helped him place landscape cloth against the side of the wall that interfaces with dirt.  Then a generous layer of washed gravel called clear stone was places against the stone.  Now when the soil gets saturated with water and then freezes, the water runs right on through the gravel and does not expand as it freezes - gradually pushing the rocks out of place.

Tom builds walls to last. (Not like the one these stones were used for previously.) Doug helped him place landscape cloth against the side of the wall that interfaces with dirt. Then a generous layer of washed gravel called clear stone was places against the stone. Now when the soil gets saturated with water and then freezes, the water in the gravel layer runs right on through and does not expand as it freezes.  If it did it would gradually push the rocks out of place.  All the retaining walls we have are made this way.

after-a-rain

filling-layers

The top 1-2 feet of dirt is very special soil.  It came from the next valley where the Prairie enthusiasts are restoring a stream to its pre-settlement conditions.  That means removing all the dirt that eroded from the top of the hills as soon as settlers started to plow the prairie.  This is the rich stuff that the tall prairie plants flourished in.  It's an honor to have it in our garden!

The top 1-2 feet of dirt is very special soil. It came from the next valley where the Prairie enthusiasts are restoring a stream to its pre-settlement conditions. That means removing all the dirt that eroded from the top of the hills as soon as settlers started to plow the prairie. This is the rich stuff that the tall prairie plants flourished in. It’s an honor to have it in our garden!

This view shows our garden in the distance.  In the foreground is the drive way and the leveled area where we will plant grass for now, and eventually hope to build a garage.

This view shows our garden in the distance. In the foreground is the drive way and the leveled area where we will plant grass for now, and eventually hope to build a garage.

I can't imagine a better view from one's front porch than the garden where one's food is growing.  We are going to cover crop it this fall, and then start planting in part of it next spring.  It's big enough that we can always have part of it in cover crop. As I heard in a song once:  Only two things that money can't buy -- true love and home-grown tomatoes.

I can’t imagine a better view from one’s front porch than the garden where one’s food is growing. We are going to cover crop it this fall, and then start planting in part of it next spring. It’s big enough that we can always have part of it in cover crop.
As I heard in a song once: Only two things that money can’t buy — true love and home-grown tomatoes.

How close do you like to have your garden to your house? 

Did you place it or inherit it?

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Categories: Uncategorized

1 reply

  1. They are some mighty fine looking rocks there. I can imagine you do not want those shifting in the winter. I would like to terrace an area on our land, but that would mean rearranging some bushes we have already planted. We’ll see! One day maybe.

    Living in an apartment in Latvia means our allotment plots are close but not right outside the door. That will change when we eventually build our own place. It is fantastic to see the allotment plots though right outside the apartment blocks in the countryside. The apartments were built during the Soviet era, when land was collectivised but the folks still found room to grow fruit, veg and flowers.

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