One of my nonnegotiables when it came to searching for our home last year was a fenced yard. Between our dog and our two kids, our yard acts as an extension of our home, giving them a place to run around without worrying that they might run too far.

The problem, however, is that our yard slopes from one end to the other. Our toddler son often loses his footing and takes a tumble when he runs.


Kicking the soccer ball back and forth with the kids also inevitably turns into a game of them watching me running to retrieve the ball from under the hedges.

In brainstorming solutions with my husband, we decided that terracing the yard may be our best bet. Terracing involves building levels of yard that look like wide steps on a slope.

If you have a hillside yard, consider some of these reasons to terrace:



Terracing gives you several level spaces rather than one sloping hill, resulting in an increased amount of usable space. Use it for gardening or playing. You could even add a structure like a playground for the kids or a gazebo for al fresco lounging or dining.


Taking away the hill also takes away the water running down, allowing you to prevent erosion. Plus, terraces can often be built to slightly slope at the sides, allowing you to direct the water toward catchment systems for reuse.


Retaining walls for your terraces can provide a dramatic effect during both day and night — especially if you light them up. You can use wood, stone or even stone veneers. “The veneers are detailed replicas of original Hawaiian natural stones and are available in moss rock, lava and coral veneers,” said Pat Cozzo of Big Rock Fabricators. “This upgrade to your wall adds a beautiful natural look that enhances your home and adds value.”



Not only does terracing give you more gardening space, but it also allows for more delicate plants to take root without the issues that usually accompany planting on a steep slope. Look at the amount of light your terraces will get and remember to plant accordingly. Often, terrace gardens do best with plants that thrive in full sun.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email