How to Design a Terraced Garden | Ask This Old House

How to Design a Terraced Garden | Ask This Old House

Ask This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada helps a homeowner select, place, and install plants for her terraced garden

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Time: 4-5 hours

Cost: $200

Skill Level: Beginner

Tools List for Designing a Terraced Garden: [YT]
Shovel []
Shopping List: [YT]
Shrubs []
Tall perennials []
Short perennials []
Grasses []
Shade tolerant plants []

1. When working on a garden with varying heights and sun exposure, Jenn follows the following guidelines.
2. Add grasses in the back and on the sides of the garden to act as a backdrop for the garden and to minimize other structures.
3. Anchor stairs with symmetrical plants. She finds shrubs will better define the walking area than other types of plants.
4. Keep taller plants on the lower terraces so that they don’t obstruct the view of the higher terraces.
5. Add perennials with color throughout the garden for visual impact.
6. Add creepers and other plants with texture to the lower terraces so they can grow over the edges of the planter to soften the look.
7. Plant shade tolerant plants in the shady areas. There are shade tolerant plants with varieties of textures and colors that can make the area beautiful.
8. Repeat plants and elements throughout the garden to make the entire garden feel cohesive.

Jenn installed a variety of plants, depending on their location in the garden.

To minimize the fence and add a backdrop to the rest of the garden, Jenn planted maiden grass. To anchor the stairs, Jenn planted two boxwoods and two butterfly bushes. For color, she planted blue hill salvia and orange echinacea. To add texture to the lower planter, Jenn planted hens and chicks and lemon thyme.

Underneath the tree, Jenn planted snake root, Japanese painted ferns, false indigo, and bleeding heart, because they are shade tolerant and will do well under the tree.

All of these plants can be found at nurseries and some of them can be found at home centers.

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Keywords: Ask This Old House, Jenn Nawada, landscaping, gardening, terraced

Watch the full episode:

How to Design a Terraced Garden | Ask This Old House


  1. Patrick on November 25, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    Jen! She makes the world better all the time.

  2. Mr FIXIT on November 25, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    Looks great! now it’s time to put in the irrigation system

  3. Kurt Zimmerman on November 25, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    I could sure use someone to design my backyard. the local landscape companies want a fortune to design and build something like this. thanks for the insight.

  4. Allyson H on November 25, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Music was dreadful LOL but this was beautiful and interesting

  5. amuro996 on November 25, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    Great video!!

  6. Ty Carlson on November 25, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    That is an absolutely amazing back patio/deck. Wow!

  7. Jason Cabrera on November 25, 2021 at 12:27 pm


  8. Joshua Roberts on November 25, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Can you come do that at my house???

  9. Constance Lovejoy on November 25, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    How is she going to water all that? What irrigation solutions could you offer for a terraced landscape? 😊

  10. Weekend Warriors Home Improvement Show on November 25, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Wonderful work! That backyard is gorgeous!

  11. Ian Burnham on November 25, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Jen is excellent!

  12. Dylan Adrian on November 25, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Did she just say salvia?

  13. Shy Shy Schullie on November 25, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Love her!

  14. Gerard Comeau on November 25, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I wonder when this women is going to come out of the closet. She may be married but there is always toys in the attic.

  15. Richard on November 25, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    You have to remove the plants from those black pots and dig a hole in the soil and put the plant in it. Instead of just placing the pot on top of the soil,

  16. Shirley Senkler on November 25, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Gorgeous plant layout.

  17. Kodiak Wild on November 25, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    if they have someone doing their yard, i sure hope they left access for at least a four foot mower 🤔😂

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