Wednesday, August 5, 2009


In our small home in the chestnut forest there are two little (unfortunately not communicating) gardens, about 35 square meters [377 square feet] each.

The CAD project
One is situated in the front of the house, and it is enough level. Most of it is cultivated with grass , flowers and a few fruit trees, but we also planted some vegetables and herbs.
We grow most of our vegetables in the other garden in the back, which is kind of difficult because since we live in a mountainous area, the ground yields to a steep slope. Therefore we decided to make some works to be able to make better use of it.
We started to fix this piece of land two years ago, cleaning it from monstrous nettle bushes and other weeds, a thing which revealed also the base of a big chestnut tree still sprouting new branches that we had to cut back.
Then we built a little path with steps and a hairpin bend that allows easy access to the whole garden. We planted some fruit trees (a pear, fig, cherry and a mediar). In the lower part, limited by a wall with reinforced concrete, we leveled an area, cleaned it from the stones and filled it in with good fertile dirt. Last year, besides this flat area, we planted a lot of tomatoes and other vegetables also on the slopes. That gave us a good harvest, even if, there, the work was kind of difficult. For this reason we decided to build some terraces (this year we built the first). Terraces, besides making work much easier in the garden, helps to prevent landslides caused by heavy rains.

Me, building the terrace
Given the success of this first terrace, in the fall i will start to build another one, but a little bigger.

The original idea, copied by some solutions i saw in other gardens, was to secure one or two tree trunks in the dirt, perpendicularily to the direction of the slope, obtaining a kind of step were a flat amount of dirt could accumulate. The project has then evolved in building a real "wall" made of trunks laid upon each other, about 50cm [1.6'] tall, 2meters [6.6'] large, bordered by two other sides about 1 meter [3.3'] long. The result looks like a big box in wood 2 m2 [21.5 ft2] wide, clinging to the slope, perfectly flat.

The supporting poles you can see in the photos are four steel pipes 1 meter long, unused material i already had. They stuck out about half a meter from the dirt, so they are buried half a meter. The trunks are sectioned in half. They were obtained from nine pieces two meters long (six for the front part and three, cut in the right sizes, for the sides). Their diameter is 8cm, so the total height is a little less than 50cm. I bought them for 3.50€ each at Leroy Merlin. They were already treated with a chemical protection with a high pressure system, but i preferred to paint them one layer of waterproof paint. The trunks are attached to the poles with some screws. The corners are kept together with some angular metal strap. The total expense was, so, 31.50€ for the wood plus about 10€ for other materials.

The final result, with some veggies already planted and covered with hail-protection netting.


Jonzie said...

I like that! exactly what we need to do in our garden. But first I'll try make it somewhere else next year...

Fern Driscoll said...

What a clever solution to a vexing problem. Your system would work well for simply making raised beds, too, don't you think? I used to have raised beds and loved them, but it's so dry here in Liguria I'm not sure they'd be a good idea. Complimenti!

dario said...

The difficult part of this terracing was that the larger side is hanging on a steep slope, so i had to go very deep with the supports. If you make the same on a flat ground it would be much easier.

The only thing i am not sure is that at the end this terrace is just built in woods that is always in contact with (wet) dirt. So, maybe after a while the wood will eventually get rotten and fall apart... True that it is wood alteady treated for outdoor use, and i also paint a couple of layers of waterproof paint, but....

dario said...

Jonzie, somewhere else?