If you stand on your property and find that you have hills, slopes, mountains or just plain bumps in the ground and if you have tried to grow on these areas, you may have realized that Newton’s Law of Gravity was right....all things do go down. Especially the beautiful organic top soil you placed on the hill to grow on. Unless you have perennials growing with a nice root ball holding everything in place, all your good intentioned soil will be found on the bottom of the hill come spring planting time. Here at HMG we too have a little bit of a hill problem. For the past few years we have just dealt with it and once the plantings rooted everything was fine. However the tremendous amount of rain this late winter has once again led to the discovery of a pile of beautiful top soil....at the bottom of the hill. But alas....I will be foiled by this hill no more.
This blog entry will describe a fairly simple terracing system which should allow for hill growing with no erosion of soil. We will utilize raised beds to create steps in the slope with small walkways between each bed.
One can find many formulas on the internet for calculating the slope/rise/run/square root of pi=mc squared.....to calculate how many beds are necessary to make to overcome your slope. I prefer the common sense method. I typically look at the slope, use an old stake....and then try to make it so the front of each bed will be equal to the back of the bed downhill from it.
This job will require the construction of standard cedar raised beds. We have described their construction somewhere else. In summary, you are building a square bed with 2 x 12 inch cedar.
The hardest work in this job will be digging out the back of each bed to sit your raised bed into the earth. The back part of the raised bed may be almost entirely covered with soil depending on the grade of your slope.
What also is important is adding a system to prevent your raised bed from sinking or sliding forward over time. You can either hammer stakes into the ground in front of the front part of the bed or inside the raised bed in front of the back part of the bed. I like to affix the raised bed to the stakes using some outdoor decking screws.
After you have your raised beds set into the ground it is imperative to place a level on the top of it to make sure it is level front to back and side to side. If you skip this step it is almost guaranteed that you will suffer the pained look of your in laws as they question: “Is that crooked?”.
Thats all for now. Good luck with that hill!