Retaining Wall Plantings and Landscape Design

Retaining Wall Plantings

Retaining Wall Plantings

I have a small retaining wall in front of my home with a small grassy area. There is also a side yard with a grass area, but the main issue is the picture I've attached.

Grass does not grow well here, actually there are a lot of weeds. And recently the whole patch of grass died completely so now Im left with dead grass.

I was thinking of completely removing the grass and replacing with rocks but I need some landscape ideas on how to make this look nice, yet have it be affordable. I dont want to simply dump rocks on the lawn, I want it to look nice and have some additional planting areas. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

ANSWER

Instead of thinking of your retaining wall area as being created with rocks with a few plantings, think of it the other way around.

The simplest way for you to handle this would be to create three to five groups of plantings. You did not indicate where you live, so I don't know your planting zone to suggest plants correctly. However, if you go by the following concept, you should be able to have a nice design that will survive too.

First, it appears that your area is hot and sunny. Therefore, for ease of maintenance, consider plants that like sunny and dry conditions. Visit my page Xeriscape Plants This is another name for plants that will do well in drought conditions. Of course you don't only have to have these conditions. They are just plants that are quite carefree in the sun with minimal amounts of water.

Here are some suggestions, but find your plant zone first so. Then you can look up each plant and see if they are in your zone and will survive growing above your retaining wall.

1. Junipers - Blue Rug, Shore, Procumbens
2. Thyme
3. Sedums - Autumn Joy is a taller one that flowers, but you can use some of the charming lower varieties too. You can mix these in a group for an interesting textured look.
4. Catmint - Walker's Low

Regarding the landscape stone in the retaining wall area, this will be a large part of the design. I would suggest getting some large boulders in different shapes and sizes. Here is where you will have to be a bit creative and place them artistically. As a guide...

1. Use one very large boulder alone.
2. Use a large one with two smaller ones grouped very close to it.
3. Use three medium size stones together.
4. Place the above so that they are not in a straight line as they are positioned across the bed.
5. One can even partially hang over the wall.
6. You can place a boulder up against the upper wall. (Your photo was very small, but I think there is a low wall there too.)
7. Consider using a large shrub or small tree towards one of the ends to add some height for interest. This will also create a bit of shade which will help.

You can do these retaining wall plantings slowly over time. Remove the grass first, do what you can afford, and add mulch over the rest of the area so that weeds do not grow. There is nothing wrong with starting with very small plants too. If you like, you can start with the rocks, add the mulch, and then do the plantings as you can afford to do so.

Good luck!
Susan

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Plantings To Replace Lawn and Weeds
by:

I live in Smiths Falls Ontario in a brand new weedy subdivision.Since my lawn is mostly weeds I would like to replace my lawn with some sort of ground cover.I wonder if there is any ground cover that can be walked upon,if not what is the lowest growing options for me. I have one spot 10 feet by10 feet and another spot 10 ft. by 30 ft.We also have winter snow from middle of November to end of March. The area is sunny with no shade.

ANSWER

Much of the above information applies to your situation. Be sure to visit my page on Xeriscape Plants (link above) for some plant ideas.

As far as plants that you can step on, yes, there are plants for that. Various companies have come out with such plants. One to look for is the company "Stepables". Take a look at their site. http://www.stepables.com/ When you go to a nursery, they are usually in a section alone and the containers are pint sized. Many are Sedums but there are others too. For your situation, look for the ones that are for full sun.

You might consider mixing these with other low plants such as Thyme and Junipers. Junipers are evergreen while most of the Stepables are not. Thyme is not really evergreen and I would assume in Canada it is not, although I was surprised to find that it stayed green on my property this past winter. I am in NJ, Zone 6.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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