DIY terrace garden bed

DIY terrace bed

While it’s possible to plant on slopes without using raised beds, water run-off means the soil and plants dry out quickly. Terrace garden beds are the perfect solution and it means flowers and vegetables can be grown in a space that might otherwise be wasted. 

The contours of your garden will guide your design, but when starting out, restrict your terraces to a manageable size. Large terraces need proper drainage and extra reinforcement; the pressure of water-logged soil behind a wall can be huge and cause large or improperly constructed walls to collapse. A series of small beds is easier to construct and a safer option.

Use sturdy material (plywood won’t cut it) and make sure your beds are securely anchored in place.

2 x lengths 2.2m x 200mm x 50mm rough-sawn tanalised pine
4 x sides 500mm x 200mm x 50mm rough-sawn tanalised pine
6 x wooden pegs (stakes) 600mm x 45mm x 35mm
100mm x 4mm flathead galvanised nails
75mm x 3.15mm flathead galvanised nails
Small stakes for marking out beds

Spade; Tape measure; Level; Electric drill; Hammer; Sledge hammer

Step 1
Measure and mark out the size of your first bed using small stakes. Ours is 2.2m long and 550mm wide. Allow another (at least) 250mm for a small walkway in between beds.

Step 2
Start building your beds. Dig a trench for your first tier, 200mm deep at the back and 80mm wide (includes 250mm for the walkway). Make sure the base of your terrace is level.

diy terrace step1

Step 1 Click to enlarge

diy terrace garden step2

Step 2 Click to enlarge







Step 3
Start digging your next tier, 800mm out from the bottom edge of your first tier.

Step 4
Place the 2.2m lengths on each tier, 500mm from the back walls. Check that each terrace is level.


DIY terrace garden bed step 3

Step 3

diy terrace step4

Step 4








Step 5
Position the side pieces in place. Drill three pilot holes through each bed end, then nail in place with the 100mm galvanised nails.

Step 6
Drive pegs into soil with sledge hammer. Position two of the pegs 30mm in from each end, and one in the centre, driving each peg 20mm below the top of the bed. Drill two pilot holes into each peg and secure with 75mm nails. You can now fill your bed with soil.

diy terrace step5

Step 5

diy terrace step6

step 6










  1. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for posting this. You made it look easy to follow for beginners like me.I was expecting something in the end after step 6, like a final suggestion or something but I think the whole step by step process is enough so I guess I think you thought it wasn’t necessary anymore.

    • Hi Nina
      Just ask away if there is something that’s unclear or needs further explaining. That really is the end of the steps. From then on you just need to fill your bed with soil and compost and plant it up with vegetables or flowers. Jane

  2. Jane,

    We live in an area that can receive heavy rain fall in the spring and fall. Even though these are smaller terraces, could a problem with drainage occur and what would be a simple solution?

  3. Any advice for doing this off of a patio? My slope is slowly washing out so I was thinking this would be a great way use that space but, without the yard behind it, do you think it will fall?

  4. Hi,just wanted to tell you, I liked this post. It was helpful.
    Keep on posting!

  5. My hillside is kinda steep and above a 12 foot retaining wall. Do you have or know of any directions for building on a much steeper slope? The slope is about 25 feet long, and I would like to go down the entire way.

    Thanks a ton,


  6. Thank you for publishing this Jane, it will be very helpful for me. I will be establishing an Australian native garden on a slope similar to what you have pictured, and will use the method you have described.

    Based on the dimensions you have noted, the two terraces cover approximately 1.6 metres horizontally, and account for 40cm fall over that distance. That’s a 25% gradient which is exactly what we have to work with. Another way of calculating what you have shown is that over a 4 metre horizontal distance, exactly 5 terraces will be installed (400cm divided by 80cm for each terrace). Each terrace is 20cm deep, so that’s 100cm of fall over 400cm horizontal distance – a 1:4 slope.

    Before reading your article I was concerned about needing very high retaining walls which would be expensive to construct (beyond my DIY ability) and would likely require drainage. So it’s a great idea to use lots of small terraces instead!

    Thanks again,

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