I just bought a small farm (25 acres of slope and woods) I am having trouble finding information on terrace building. I don't have equipment, but I am in the processe buying a tractor with a FEL and a backhoe. Any advise would be appreciated
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Howdy David, Having a tractor will be a big help. In my younger days I built a few terraces by hand, no wonder I hurt so much now !
The way I go about it ,with my backhoe, now, is to start at the top of the hill and work down. First thing is to lay out the top terrace along a "key line" or level line, using stakes to mark it out. Then just move across the hillside , digging as you go and dumping the dirt downhill. Your backhoe tires pack the loose soil as you go. Then just keep working the terrace until it is pretty level and move down hill to start the next one. Using the upper "spoils" to define the level of the lower terrace. Any trees that you cut out can be used as walls or Shoring to keep the steeper walls from eroding. If you have a tree covered hillside that you are working with, you can plan ahead to leave a row of live trees between each terrace to help hold the soil and act as a canopy for shade in summer. Really good planning will allow you to use some live , vertical , trees as "posts" to place your horizontal walls up against to keep them from rolling down the hill.
Any stumps can be left in the ground and covered to create a hugel of sorts . Any branches or smaller trees/bushes can be used as hugel also.