I have just moved into my house in IL and I am planning on making some sort of raised beds in my backyard. The yard slopes quite a bit and I was planning on making raised beds and kind of terracing it while also filling them with wood for hugelkultur. Or would it be possible and more beneficial to make mini swails maybe? just wanting some feedback. Thanks!
Travis, how is your garden going? Hopefully you’re still reading this site. I’m in California but had the exact same thought and went through with it this summer - a terraced / raised bed garden against a pretty steep slope. It was not an easy project, rock hard clay, hit some old concrete post fillings in the ground and had to change my design on the fly, and keeping things level and contoured is easier said than done! Mine’s about 3ft wide (only gardening access from the lower side) and 25 ft. Long, contours to the shape of the land, about 1’ high on the high side, 2.5’ on the low side. Material is all rough hewn Redwood, I applied pure raw linseed oil (from Earthpaints in NC) to help preserve it / and for aesthetics.
Anyway, just thought I’d ask an experienced owner of such a creation what the lessons learned have been? And what’s worked very well according to plan? Given the slope, I put a lot of time into drainage so that it doesn’t become a waterlogged mess. I must say, staying 100% organic was NOT easy - drainage systems are all made from synthetics e.g. landscape cloth, retaining wall barrier material, and PVC pipe. I ended up using gravel wrapped in burlap which isn’t as good, but won’t disintegrate and leach plastics into the soil over time. Also, putting down the 1/4” mesh rodent barrier underneath was something I never want to do again! The slope makes sealing off the corners and posts a geometrical nightmare, like a test in Origami design except in sharp hardware cloth. I could’ve gotten lazy about it and left gaps, but we border open space and the gophers, moles, voles, mice, are abundant everywhere and will find a way in if there’s any way possible! If I ever have to do it again, I’d artificially flatten the bottom instead of following the slope.
Now I’m trying to apply Hugelkultur principles to filling the garden box, so any ideas there would be much appreciated!
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