Stepping Terrain for a Terraced Flower Bed

Reference Number: KB-00854
Last Modified: July 16, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite


I want to create a stepped, terrace style of garden or planting bed.  How do I do that?


Using Elevation Regions and Garden Beds, you can model a stepped garden bed, then place plant images to customize its appearance.

For the purposes of this example, we will walk through creating a basic stepped, or terrace style, of flower bed.

To create the regions

  1. If your plan does not already have a Terrain Perimeter, select Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter  to create one and resize it as needed.

  2. If your plan already has a structure in it, select Terrain> Elevation Data> Elevation Region   and draw a rectangular flat region within the Terrain Perimeter around the house, similar to the image shown below.

  3. Once placed, use the Select Objects  tool to select the Flat Region and choose Open Object  to display the Flat Region Specification dialog.

  4. On the Elevation panel, verify that the Elevation is set to 0" and click OK to close the Flat Region Specification dialog.

  5. Repeat this process to create several additional Flat Regions which will become the steps in the garden terrace.

    You may find it easier to work with elevation regions by selecting the Fill Style panel and choosing a Fill Pattern and Fill Color to help differentiate between the various regions in plan view.

  • Set the Elevation of the second Flat Region, represented above in a blue angle cross hatch pattern, to -24" (or -2').

  • Set the Elevation of the third Flat Region, represented above in a green angle cross hatch pattern, to -48"(or -4').

  • Set the Elevation of the fourth Flat Region, represented above in a yellow angle cross hatch pattern, to -72" (or -6').

To create retaining walls

  1. Next, select Terrain> Terrain Walls and Curbs> Straight Retaining Wall  to click and drag out retaining walls in between each of the Flat Regions.

    You may want to place a Straight Curb partway through the lowest Flat region to signify the end of the planting bed in that area.

  2. By default, the Retaining Walls will have a concrete material applied to them.

    To change this, use the Select Objects  tool to select one of the Retaining walls and choose Open Object  to display its specification dialog.

  3. Go to the Materials panel, select Exterior Wall Surface and click the Select Material button.

  4. Go to the Manufacturers section of the library and find a suitable material in the Cultured Stone section.

    If you have not downloaded the bonus manufacturer's content for your Home Designer, you can do so on the Home Designer website in the Content Downloads section of the User Center.

  5. Once you have located the appropriate material, select it and click OK to apply the material and close the Select Library Object dialog and follow the same procedure to change the Interior Wall Surface. 

  6. Once both wall surfaces have the appropriate material applied to them, click OK to apply the material change and close the specification dialog.

  7. Follow the same procedure to change the remaining Retaining Walls then take a Perspective Full Overview  to see the results so far. 

    Close the 3D view and return to the 2D floor plan view. 

Now, you are ready to place your garden beds.

To create a garden bed

  1.  Select Terrain> Garden Bed> Polyline Garden Bed  and place a rectangular garden bed across the Flat Regions. 

    The Garden Bed will follow the terrain each time it lowers, so it is not necessary to place individual beds for each flat region, unless you want to apply a different material to each one. 

    Both terrain regions and gardens beds can be edited in shape and size after they are placed, much like the Terrain Perimeter, using the Change Line/Arc and Break Line edit tools.

  2. Once placed, use the Select Objects  tool to select the Garden Bed, and click the Open Object  edit button.

  3. In the Garden Bed Specification dialog:
  • Go to the Materials panel, select the second Terrain Garden Feature option and click Select Material to display the Select Library Object dialog. Go to Materials> Landscaping to select an appropriate material for the Garden Bed and click OK to apply this material.  

  • For the purposes of this example, Mulch (dark) is the material used.  

  • Click OK again to close the Terrain Feature Specification dialog. 

    Now you are ready to add plants to your design using either the
    Library Browser  or Plant Chooser .