rexmerdinus
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 2:44 pm
Location: Zone 4 Maine

Boulder retaining wall

Home.jpg

Hi all,

Help please!

I'm pretty experienced with vegetable gardening, but when it comes to flowers and designing a garden for its appearance, I've got nothing. I'm looking for some ideas and tips (appropriate for zone 4) for dressing up a retaining wall around the front of my house, preferably with perennials so I don't have to replant every year. It's getting a bit ugly with weeds for the last year or two, but I don't pull them because I like the roots in there to help with erosion through the crannies, which has been a small bit of a problem in the past year or two. I was thinking about some kind of vine or creeping plant, but I don't want something destructive like ivy, and I don't really know what else is out there. The attached photo is what I'm working with. The pic is taken from the south, so the side you're looking at is what gets the most sun. I'm eventually going to build a deck across the top, but in the interim I was thinking about Irish moss or sedum interspersed with stepping stones.

Aaaaaaand GO!

Thanks a bunch for your insight!

Jason

User avatar
pinksand
Greener Thumb
Posts: 870
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:13 am
Location: Columbia, MD

Re: Boulder retaining wall

I LOVE boulders used in a landscape :) I have a much much smaller stone retaining wall that I planted with various sedums throughout the cracks this spring. I've also had great luck with wooly thyme along my garden path, but it looks like it's only hardy to zone 5, although some other varieties of creeping thyme look like they're hardy through your zone 4. But I believe other varieties of creeping thyme would have the same effect .
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

rexmerdinus
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 2:44 pm
Location: Zone 4 Maine

Re: Boulder retaining wall

Thanks, I like the look of those. I'm going to consider rock cress as well, or maybe a combination of a few things.

Jason

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27903
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Boulder retaining wall

Wow that is an eye-catching retaining wall. Don't see much of that around here where everything is flat and no rocks -- You'd see more of it in northern jersey and I always think "ooh, rocks and boulders...." It would cost a fortune around here.

So are you looking for ideas of things to plant in the pockets or on top... Or down below? I like the photo Pinksand linked to but you'd have to choose plants that are hardy in your winter.

I'm recalling moss and lichen clinging to rocky cliff sides and accented by scrubby shrubs -- your wall is big enough for that. You could try the moss and lichen milkshake trick in the shadier areas. For larger plants, you could probably stuff some mud in the pockets and encourage desirable plants to grow like a rock garden.

What about something like Arctostaphylos uva-ursi -- I can't remember the common name ...wait maybe it's Bearberry? How about wintergreen? You could try other low growing berry shrubs like maybe upland cranberry, nanny berry (huh, is nanny berry low growing? There's a species that only grows in the northern zones 2-3 or something... Heh, I think I'm thinking of crowberries....)

You could also plant short/compact spring bulbs -- what are hardy in your area? I was thinking of small ones like grape hyacinth, snowdrops, crocus, mini jonquils....

...I wonder if crested iris (Iris cristata) would work.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

rexmerdinus
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 2:44 pm
Location: Zone 4 Maine

Re: Boulder retaining wall

Thanks! The builder did do a beautiful job with the retaining wall.

To be honest, I'm not sure what my vision is for the wall. I'm thinking about something along the top edge that cascades over, like creeping thyme or rock cress, and I will probably put something similar in the gaps between rocks. Bottom line, I want low maintenance and erosion control. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but the top is a flat area that extends about 15 feet out from the house. I'm not super concerned about that portion--there is grass growing in, and I'm fine with that as it is because I intend to build a deck over it in a few years.

I've read about bearberry fleetingly, but I'll want to find some and see it in person to decide if it's what I want.

Also, as you may or may not be able to tell, around the corner on the left there is a short back side to the wall that is never in direct sunlight. I was thinking about some sempervivum hens and chicks over there, but nothing has been decided yet.

I've found lots of sellers on EBay hawking seeds for things like rock cress and creeping thyme--are these best grown from seeds (direct sow), or should I start them in pots or cells first? Thanks for your ideas!

Jason

Return to “Flower Gardening & Garden Design”