Landscaping Ideas for Sloping Garden
Building a raised garden bed over sloping ground is simple if you build it ‘in place’. Here’s the easiest way to build a level bed over uneven ground.
Our garden is situated in a large, open south-facing area which provides ideal exposure and growing conditions. The ground is uneven, however, and slopes downhill in a southward direction. The sloping ground provides good drainage for the orchard, but presented some problems for the vegetable beds. We needed to terrace the ground into level ‘steppes’ or build raised beds for the garden vegetable plots in order to keep the valuable soil and amendments in place.
Terracing the ground proved difficult. Each ‘steppe’ was supported by a large mill slab or stacked timbers, and held with stakes. But over the years, we grew tired of replacing rotted stakes and fallen boards each spring. Building raised beds was a better solution because they held together for years and required no maintenance.
Building the raised beds over uneven, sloping ground was another matter. We wanted the beds to be level, to ensure even water distribution (in beds that are not level, plant roots at the high end get less water than those at the low end.) and we like the way it looks when the beds are level. So some of the bed sides need to be tapered to fit the ground contour, which makes the carpentry a bit more complex.
Below is my current favorite system for building a raised garden bed with tapered sides. The project is simplified by building the bed ‘in place’, requiring no measuring of the slope grade, and can be built working alone – you don’t need someone on the other end to hold boards or move the finished bed in place. The technique described here will work on varied grades and even if the slope runs off in two directions.