What is a Terrace?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2019
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A terrace is a raised flat area. The word “terrace” is used in a number of different contexts, ranging from a naturally formed geological terrace to a man-made platform outside a building used for recreation. The meaning intended is usually fairly clear from the context in which the word is used. The origins of the word lie in the Latin root for “earth,” reflecting the fact that building a terrace usually requires building up a mound of earth.

Humans have been including terraces in their architecture for a very long time. A terrace creates an extension to a building, usually under the open air, which can expand usable space and create a recreation area for people to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is fair. Some terraces are at ground level, while others are raised, allowing access from other floors. In the simplest design, it may simply be a tiled area, while more ornate versions can include columns, latticework roofs, and other features.


Terraces are often used for grilling and barbecuing in the summer, and they may also have space for a small lap pool, a hot tub, or even a garden. In urban areas, terrace gardens may be used to create a small haven of natural space when one is not otherwise available, and such gardens can also be useful privacy screens which allow people to enjoy the outdoors without being observed. Homes with terraces often have increased value when they are sold, as the terrace may be viewed as a desirable feature.

In landscaping and farming, terraces have also been used for centuries. In this context, a terrace is a flat raised area, and sometimes terraces are built in steps which move up the side of a hill to create more usable space for gardening and farming. Terrace agriculture can be seen in a number of cultures around the world, and in landscaping, it can create more aesthetic interest, isolate plants with different needs, or be used to camouflage an unpleasant sight.

This term is also used in some regions of the world in reference to row housing. This can be seen in some addresses, which may include the word “Terrace.” Another sense of the word can be seen in embankments created near roads or as road separators, which may be known as terraces. In this case, the embankment may be landscaped, or it may be capped for low maintenance. Such terraces are used for safety and noise control along busy roads.


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Post 3

The house we currently live in has a large outdoor terrace. This is almost like an extended living room. Since we live in a part of the country that has mild winters, we use this area all year long.

It is the perfect place to entertain and keep most of the mess outside. Even if we aren't entertaining, we like to sit out on the terrace and relax. If the weather is nice, this is my favorite spot to take a nap or read a book.

Post 2

I live in a house on top of a hill, and a big part of our yard is terraced landscaping. Because this is a shady area, I wanted things that were easy to grow and maintain.

I planted some fast growing ground covers and added several hosta plants. These don't take much maintenance and look good through the whole summer season.

This hill would not be fun to mow, so putting in the terraced landscaping was a good solution. It adds some curb appeal, and is still easy to take care of.

Post 1

Once I lived in a place called the Terrace Apartments. I think they reason they were called this is because each apartment had a small outside space that was connected to their unit.

Since you were in an apartment in the middle of the city, this was a nice place to keep your grill or bicycle if you had one.

They weren't very big, but you could easily fit your grill and a couple of chairs to sit outside and relax.

As far as everything else, there was nothing special about these apartments. The name sounded appealing, but that was about it.

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