While a terrace isn’t something that comes up in everyday conversation, it might if you have an eye for home design or landscaping. Most people know a terrace as part of landscaping design, but others recognize it as an exterior feature that’s similar to a balcony or patio.

We’ll discuss both types of terraces so you can decide which one (if not both) would add curb appeal to your home.


A Tale Of Two Types Of Terraces

If you live in the United States, you’re well aware that many words have double meanings in other parts of the world. The confusion in a conversation can be frustrating or comical, depending on how you choose to look at it. Take a look at the terrace definition, and you’ll realize that it’s just one of the many words with more than one meaning.

To residents of the U.S., you’re probably most likely to define a terrace as an embankment of horizontal ridges in a hillside and are designed to soil erosion (you may not use those exact words, but something like it).

If you live in the U.K. or have visited, a terrace is a level paved or planted area that adjoins to a building (similar to a yard or patio).

While both definitions are quite different, they can improve the aesthetics of the exterior of a home and even a neighborhood. Let’s talk a closer look at each type of terrace.


A Terrace As A Landscaping and Conservation Project

Terracing, when built on a slope, can prevent runoff water collecting and helps to reduce soil erosion. Depending on the slope of the embankment, there may be multiple terraces built and are parallel, which allows water to channel downwards and into the waterways, a drainage tile, or other outlets.

Depending on where you live, terraces can be used to prevent soil erosion in fields or even at homes where there are steep hills in the yard.

From a farming or even gardening standpoint, building a terrace may be beneficial because it can:

  • Help protect water quality from runoff
  • Improve soil quality by boosting moisture retention and eliminating the damage of eroding soil.
  • Makes difficult land more usable


Consider the steep slope in a front yard. It’s nearly impossible to mow, and it’s an overall hassle. By building a terrace into the hillside, it becomes a usable space for flowers and other plants, and the maintenance is relatively minimal.

Not only can a terrace-style garden give your home some curb appeal but if you ever decide to put your property on the market, landscaping usually adds value to the home.


How To Build Terrace Garden In Your Yard

Before you decide to dig into the hillside in your yard, you need to think about the types of plants you want as well as the materials; drawing out a plan is always a good idea, too. If you want a low-maintenance terrace garden, you’ll want to look for plants and flowers that can thrive on their own with minimal water and care.

If you want to be able to grow some vegetables or herbs, you will want to make sure that you can access the terrace easily without compromising the structure of the garden. Have a friend who is a landscaping expert or know someone with a degree in Horticulture? This would be a great time to sit down with them and get some advice before you get started.

You can use treated wood, rocks, concrete blocks, and even brick to construct the garden. If you’re planting vegetables and herbs, you want to make sure your building materials are free of chemicals.


Pay Attention To The Rise and Run

If you browse around online looking at different terrace garden designs, you may notice that they talk about the rise and run of the slope. Don’t know what they are talking about? It’s essential to figure that out first.

The run is the measurement of the hill from top to bottom, and the rise is the vertical distance from the bottom of the slope to the top. By using your rise and run measurements, you can figure out the dimensions of each garden bed; this is especially important if you plan to make more than one bed for planting.


Starting At The Bottom

After you have your terrace garden all planned out, you can begin by digging your first trench (for the first tier) at the bottom of the slope. Your building materials, such as wood or stone, should fit into your trench.

You will also dig trenches into the side of the terrace; make sure all trenches are level with one another and that your building materials are securely anchored before moving on to the next tier. You can use the soil that you dig up for planting, but you may need to supplement more.

It’s best to study various terrace garden designs and talk to landscaping professionals (if they are willing to give you a free consultation) so that you can make sure that you’re doing the right steps. Taking your time and making sure everything is secure and level are key to the success of building a terrace garden.


A Terrace As An Outside Space For Relaxing

In the U.S. many of us aren’t familiar with a terrace house, but in the U.K. these types of homes are quite popular and are kind of the equivalent of rowing housing (or think of brownstones in NYC and other larger cities).

A terraced home typically doesn’t have a large backyard but often has a communal space or a small space for a terrace. A terrace, in this type of scenario, is more or less another word for a patio.

Similar to a terrace garden, building a terrace on the front or back of your home can improve the curb appeal (especially if you have it decorated nicely) and may even boost the value of your home.

Do you need to live in the U.K. to enjoy a terrace? No, just keep in mind that most visitors will call it a “patio.” Want to know how to make your terrace a place of relaxation and privacy, regardless if it’s large or small?

Here are a few tips to consider when making your terrace a relaxing and private extension of your front or backyard.


Create Privacy If Your Terrace Feels Out In The Open

While some terraces are surrounded by a wall of some kind, others may feel like they are out in the open and part of everyone else’s backyard. If you want to have a little more privacy, consider adding some planters of bushes or other plants around the perimeter of the terrace. It won’t make you feel blocked in, but it will make it feel a little more private.


Don’t Go Overboard With Seating

Terraces can be a great place to entertain, especially during the summer months. While it can be tempting to load up your terrace with tables and chairs, to provide enough seating for guests, it can easily become overcrowded.

Rather than a massive table that takes up floor space, consider some end tables, bench seating, and a few lounge chairs if space permits. You may even want to find beautiful chairs that fold up, and that can be easily stowed away when you don’t need them.

If you’re limited on space, you may want to consider bench seating that doubles as a storage space that’s perfect for kid toys, outdoor pillows, or other things to use on the terrace.


Light Up Your Space

When the weather is perfect in the summertime, you want to spend as much time as you can outside, even when the sun goes down. Lanterns, a small fire pit (if allowed), and even a string of sophisticated and straightforward lights can provide a soft and welcoming light. Don’t want to mess with outlets? Look for solar or battery-powered options.


Consider Making Your Terrace An All-Weather Space

You’re not likely to want to spend a lot of time on your terrace when it’s raining or once the snow starts to fly, but you can extend your time on the terrace by making sure that your seating is weather-proof and will last a lot longer than one season of summer.

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