Garden includes a Terraform provider that you can use to automatically validate and provision infrastructure as part of your project. This guide walks through how to configure and use the provider.

It's strongly recommended that you learn about Terraform (if you haven't already) before using it with Garden.

How it works

Under the hood, Garden simply wraps Terraform, so there's no magic involved. Garden just automates its execution and makes stack outputs available to your Garden providers and actions.

Terraform resources can be provisioned through the terraform provider when initializing Garden, or via terraform actions that are utilized like other actions in your stack.

The former, having a single Terraform stack for your whole project, is most helpful if other provider configurations need to reference the outputs from your Terraform stack, or if most/all of your services depend on the infrastructure provisioned in your Terraform stack. A good example of this is the terraform-gke example project, which provisions a GKE cluster that the kubernetes provider then runs on, along with the services in the project. The drawback is that Garden doesn't currently watch for changes in those Terraform files, and you need to restart to apply new changes, or apply them manually.

Using terraform Deploy actions, can be better if your other providers don't need to reference the stack outputs but other Deploy, Run and Test actions do. In this style, you can basically create small Terraform stacks that are part of your Stack Graph much like other services. A good example would be deploying a database instance, that other services in your project can then connect to.

You can also use a combination of the two if you'd like. Below we'll walk through how each of these work.

Planning and applying

Garden will not automatically apply the Terraform stack, unless you explicitly set the autoApply flag on the config for the stack. Instead, Garden will warn you if the stack is out of date.

We only recommend using autoApply for private development environments, since otherwise you may accidentally apply hazardous changes, or conflict with other users of an environment.

To manually plan and apply stacks, we provide the following commands:

garden --env=<env-name> plugins terraform apply-root                     # Runs `terraform apply` for the provider root stack.
garden --env=<env-name> plugins terraform apply-action -- <action-name>  # Runs `terraform apply` for the specified terraform Deploy action.
garden --env=<env-name> plugins terraform plan-root                      # Runs `terraform plan` for the provider root stack.
garden --env=<env-name> plugins terraform plan-action -- <action-name>   # Runs `terraform plan` for the specified terraform Deploy action.

Each command automatically applies any variables configured on the provider or action in question. Any additional arguments you specify for the command are passed directly to the terraform CLI command, but you need to place them after a -- so that they aren't parsed as Garden options. For example, to apply the root stack with -auto-approve:

garden --env=<env-name> plugins terraform apply-root -- -auto-approve

Injecting Environment Variables Into Backend Manifests

Terraform does not interpolate named values in backend manifests. Below is a solution using an exec provider.

Exec Provider

One way to inject variables into new terraform manifests is to add an exec provider that calls an initScript in the project.garden.yaml file. Exec providers allow us to run scripts while initiating other providers. An initScript runs in the project root when initializing those providers.

In this sample terraform/backend.tf manifest, we need to replace the key based on which environment we are building.

terraform {
  backend "s3" {
    bucket  = "state-bucket"
    key     = "projects/my-project/terraform.tfstate"
    region  = "us-west-2"
  required_providers {
    aws = {
      source  = "hashicorp/aws"
      version = "~> 3.0"

In the project.garden.yaml file for this sample, the exec provider calls an initScript that replaces in-place the pre-existing state file with a copy that substitutes the s3 bucket name with the environment name in the backend.tf file.

  - name: exec
    initScript: rm -rf terraform/.terraform* && sed -i .bak 's;key *= *"projects/[a-zA-Z0-9]*/terraform.tfstate";key = "projects/${environment.name}/terraform.tfstate";g' terraform/backend.tf
  - name: terraform
    initRoot: "./terraform"
      project: ${environment.name}
    dependencies: [exec]

Now when you deploy a new Terraformed environment, the new backend statefile will know where to go.

Next steps

Check out the terraform-gke example project. Also take a look at the Terraform provider reference and the Terraform Deploy action type reference for details on all the configuration parameters.

If you're having issues with Terraform itself, please refer to the official docs.

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