This has been a very long term project that has had to fit itself around my very small children. I've been building these things for almost 6 months, sometimes with help, mostly not.
The slope you see in the before photos was created after we had our new driveway installed. It's on a significant slope so a fair bit of excavating was done. This is the downslope of the hill and the bottom of the driveway.
OBSERVATIONS -sits under a huge pine tree so receives significant pine needle drop. Creates a slightly acidic soil. -North facing. Get's about 6 hours sun a day, as it's blocked to the east and west by ours' and neighbours' houses. -poor soil through disturbance and compaction from machinery, concrete dust -minimal foot traffic -receives rain run off from big driveway
DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS -need to get through with wheelbarrow -close to house so need to be careful of termites
THE PROBLEMS ARE THE SOLUTIONS
Termite risk: A 1m clearance of large wood pieces has been allowed to help control that. This has become the pathway. I will also cycle chickens through here periodically to allow them to eat up any nasty bugs. Bonus for the chooks!
Minimal Foot Traffic: This will affect how much this area gets interacted with. Low maintenance crops will go here. I'm thinking of perennial herbs and medicinal herbs. And of course, blueberries!
Put plants where they're happy. You know what loves acidic soil? Blueberries! You know who loves blueberries? My children!
Compacted soil: I created these beds through the no-dig method. Once the walls were constructed, I put down a layer of compost, then cardboard, then filled it with mulch. Seedlings were then planted in a pocket of compost. The top layer has been in for about 5 months and I found worms in there the other day :D One happy gardener right here.
The first terrace was done on a 'permablitz' - a day when like-minded people volunteer to install permaculture designs. It was a great day and we got a lot done. The bottom 2 levels were just me, plodding away when I could.
Eventually these will be redone in stone. Keeping this in mind I wanted to build these temporary ones cheaply and out of material that will break down into soil. All the wood was found or reclaimed from building sites, pruned trees etc. I'm hoping that the walls can just be faced with stone to protect the soil that has built up by then.
Most of the plants were cuttings that I got for free such as rosemary, sage, and lavender. They are thriving. You can read how to establish woody perennials from cuttings here. It's not totally planted out yet, but I've got high hopes for my new front terraces :)