Retaining walls are an important part of some landscapes, as they help keep slopes in check and level out problem areas. It can also be difficult to landscape near a retaining wall since you don't want to plant anything that can compromise the integrity of the wall. The following are a few strategies that can work well for these challenging areas.
Avoid Extensive Root Systems
Trees and shrubs with far-reaching root systems should not be placed near a retaining wall, particularly on the terrace above the wall. The roots can push out on the wall, causing it to collapse or crack. If you prefer somewhat taller plants along the wall, opt for lower shrubs with more shallow root systems, such as lavender or rosemary bushes.
Plant a Trailing Top Border
Another method that helps soften the top of a retaining wall are trailing plants, like lobelia or ground ivies. These plants are relatively shallow-rooted, so they pose no danger to the wall itself. Instead, they mound softly over the top of the wall and trail down its face. You won't have to do much landscape care of these perennial plants once they are established.
Install Borders and Barriers
Trying mow or trim the grass against a retaining wall can be difficult. Mowing and trimming against the bottom of the wall can lead to mechanical damage to the wall material, whereas mowing along the top edge of the wall may put unnecessary weight on the wall and lead to damage. Instead, install a border against the wall's top and bottom edge. You can opt for flower gardens, such as the trailing top border mentioned before, or you can install a gravel buffer strip between the wall and lawn. Use edging to separate the border from the lawn so grass doesn't encroach in the area.
Stay Mindful of Drainage Systems
Many retaining wall systems also have built-in drains so that water doesn't become trapped behind the wall and lead to its collapse. When landscaping along the bottom of the wall, be mindful of the location of these drains. Avoid planting any tall or dense plants that can block the drains. You want the drains to be clear of debris as well as visually easy to find. This way, you can inspect them throughout the year to ensure there are no blockages.
Contact a landscaping and lawn care service like Rock Solid Services LLC for more help.