Design Trends, Ideas + Inspiration

Terracing: Taking Backyard Design to a Whole New Level

Not all backyards are made equal. While having a spacious and flat outdoor space is ideal, having a small and hilly backyard isn’t the end of the world. It’s all about perspective and working with what you’ve got. Terracing the uneven terrain is a great opportunity to re-landscape your outdoor space and update it with modern flare.

Check out a few of our favorite backyard terracing ideas that’ll make you want to scrap your yard and start over fresh.

A Yard with a View

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When a yard is limited on space and a majority of the landscape reaches upwards at a steep incline, it may seem like not much can be done with the hill. On the contrary, this is when terracing creativity really comes into play. Utilizing the slope to create a private hideaway on the topmost terrace landing adds a fun extra feature to the yard’s design…and a great view.

This high, secluded spot overlooking the patio below, with plenty of assorted terraced greenery between them, helps to take advantage of the various narrow flat areas that the limited yard space has to offer.

Bi-Level Backyard

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Typically, a terraced backyard takes the shape of a series of planter box landings that occupy the face of the hill. However, the entire hillside doesn’t need to be carved into in order for it to be a terraced backyard. Simply having two large landings is technically enough to make it a terraced yard.

Separating the large landings and allowing vines to cascade down the hillside is a great way to keep the flow between the top and bottom terrace levels. At the same time, the hillside vines make for a great natural backdrop against the outdoor lounging space.

Modern Water Feature

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Between the upper terrace landing and the ground floor, using gravity to help guild water’s path makes for an easy opportunity to incorporate a fountain into the retaining wall structure. This eliminates the need to build a fountain from the ground up. Merely extending a portion of the retaining wall will make the upper terrace feel larger, with water acting as part of the terrace boundary. A built-in water feature also adds a natural feature that’s not only nice to look at, but relaxing to hear while enjoying time out in the backyard.

Hot Backyard Design

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Accessorizing the yard helps to fill empty voids and add a little character. Incorporating a fire pit into the terrace structure is one of a few ways to spice up the terrace design scheme. As a decorative component to the terrace construction, elongating a portion of the wall is a simple way to accommodate a built-in fire pit. Depending on the length, the extension can also provide extra surface area for low seating, a table top or for ornamental planters to line the terrace wall.

Contemporary Amphitheater

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Not all of us have a green thumb. Nor do all of us want to invest the time and money necessary to maintain a Hanging Gardens of Babylon terraced yard. Terracing a backyard to fit an amphitheater concept is a great alternative as it reduces the overall maintenance need. With the hill face consisting primarily of cement stairs and benches, not only does it make a hilly space more inviting and easy to care for, it also reduces the need to buy a full outdoor lounging arrangement set.

Just because your backyard doesn’t fit the idea of a typical wide, open and flat space doesn’t mean it can’t meet your vision of a modern backyard. Getting creative with what the space has to offer is a great opportunity to tap into your inner landscape architect and turn your hillside backyard into an amazing space. Our favorite backyard terrace design ideas here are just the tip of the iceberg. How would you design your terraced backyard?

Yvette C.

Yvette C.

Yvette is a Site Merchandiser for YLiving. Her deep appreciation for design stems from a background in art history and interior design. During her off hours, she enjoys ogling cute animals, reading, catching up on TV series, following blogs, and enjoying the quirks of California's Bay Area.

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