In places in which the natural slope is very perceptible, there is a tendency to terrace the lawn for the purpose of making the various parts or sections of it more or less level and plane. In nearly all cases, however, a terrace in a main lawn is objectionable. It cuts the lawn into two or more portions, and thereby makes it look smaller and spoils the effect of the picture. A terrace always obtrudes a hard and rigid line, and fastens the attention upon itself rather than upon the landscape. Terraces are also expensive to make and to keep in order; and a shabby terrace is always distracting.
When formal effects are desired, their success depends, however, very largely on the rigidity of the lines and the care with which they are maintained. If a terrace is necessary, it should be in the form of a retaining wall next the street, or else it should lie next the building, giving as broad and continuous a lawn as possible. It should be remembered, however, that a terrace next a building should not be a part of the landscape, but a part of the architecture; that is, it should serve as a base to the building. It will at once be seen, therefore, that terraces are most in place against those buildings that have strong horizontal lines, and they are little suitable against buildings with very broken lines and mixed or gothic features. In order to join the terrace to the building, it is usually advisable to place some architectural feature upon its crown, as a balustrade, and to ascend it by means of architectural steps. The terrace elevation, therefore, becomes a part of the base of the building, and the top of it is an esplanade.
[Illustration: Fig. 59. A terrace in the distance; in the foreground an ideal "running out" of the bank.]
A simple and gradually sloping bank can nearly always be made to take the place of a terrace. For example, let the operator make a terrace, with sharp angles above and below, in the fall of the year; in the spring, he will find (if he has not sodded it heavily) that nature has taken the matter in hand and the upper angle of the terrace has been washed away and deposited in the lower angle, and the result is the beginning of a good series of curves. Figure 59 shows an ideal slope, with its double curve, comprising a convex curve on the top of the bank, and a concave curve at the lower part. This is a slope that would ordinarily be terraced, but in its present condition it is a part of the landscape picture. It may be mown as readily as any other part of the lawn, and it takes care of itself.
The diagrams in Fig. 60 indicate poor and good treatment of a lawn. The terraces are not needed in this case; or if they are, they should never be made as at 1. The same dip could be taken up in a single curved bank, as at 3, but the better way, in general, is to give the treatment shown in 2. Figure 61 shows how a very high terrace, 4, can be supplaced by a sloping bank 5. Figure 62 shows a terrace that falls away too suddenly from the house.