planting suggestions for retaining wall

CentricRain(z5 Ohio)November 3, 2003

Hello =)

I just built a 3ft retaining wall to help kill the steep slope that was so hard to mow and to help level it some. I also built in 2 planters that are 1 1/2 high that I am going to plant tulips in. After they come and go, not sure what I'm gonna do there either. But what I really need suggestions on is what to plant behind the wall. The wall is 70 feet long and I built in stairs in the middle and a planter on each side. I also built it to curve gracefully and would like to plant following it. Lots of space to plant. On top of the hill is a willow tree that the stairs lead to, but does not cast any shade where I would be planting. This is Full sun all day. I dont want any more trees in this area but shrubs would be fine. I love hummers and butterflies and would like to plant for them too. Also, I live out in the country If that helps. The wall kinda takes away from that and I would like to make it fit in more. Any Ideas and suggestions would be great!

"Don't be afraid to break all the rules. If it doesn't work - only then do you know you've done something wrong."

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Cornus(z5-6 OH)

The willow will suck moisture from plants so I suggest doing an all sedum, rock garden. Dragons blood will cover the wall. All of my sedums attract butterflies.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2003 at 10:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Going through a blizzard here, so with spare time, I'm perusing other forums at Gardenweb and happened upon your post, and oh, how familiar it sounds!
We have a retaining wall 2.5 feet high, and about 100 feet in lenght at the bottom of a 10 feet tall slope with a 45 degree angle. Above the retaining wall, we created perennial gardens 3 feet deep, and then more retaining walls in stages so it would break up the horizontal line in the visual when looking at the gardens.
Your willow sounds like it might be far enough away to play with a variety of plants, and with full sun, you have a great potential.
What we planted includes everything from Phlox to Rudbeckias to Echinaceas to Lilies to Echinops to butterfly bushes, etc. These are all plants that hummers and butterflies love. On the edge to cascade over the walls are;
Creeping Phlox - Can take part shade, but mine are in full sun doing well. Water deeply once a week during really dry spells in the summer. Hummingbird moths love these! And they are wonderful to watch. Butterflies also enjoy them.
Aubrieta (Rock Cress) - Full sun plant which is drought tolerant. I winter sowed (posting a link below in case you might like to explore this forum) a lot of these last year. Very nice. Will cascade with time.
Creeping Baby's Breath - Beautiful cascader! I have white and pink. Great for butterflies!
Alyssums, both Basket of Gold and Mountain Alyssum. Basket of Gold is more of a clump and Mountain is a trailing plant. Basket of Gold is my favourite with silverish leaves and the brightest yellow flowers early in the season. Tolerates dry hot sun places.
If your soil is rich, you might like to try Lipstick Fragaria or Fragaria Variagata. These are members of the strawberry family, and their foliage looks great at the edge of our rock wall. The lipstick is deep green with hot pink flowers, and the variagata has white and green leaves with a white flower. I remove the spent flowers to keep them blooming all summer. If I forget one... well, the squirrel gets the berries and leaves the REAL strawberry patch alone! LOL!
There are a lot of other plants out there that would be great for your area. Try to pick something which is somewhat drought/heat tolerant as the soil above these walls tends to dry out and get hotter than other ground level gardens, especially at the edge. Having said this, if you like something, try it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing Forum

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 9:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CentricRain(z5 Ohio)

Hi Nicole,
Thank you for responding and thank you for all your input and Ideas. I do so appreciate it! I am sorry about your blizzard =(
I have been looking at this wall all winter! I used to be so proud of it but it is now becoming such a hard area to landscape. Not really because of the situation but because of the ideas I have and HOW I want to landscape it. I have had a plan then I end up not liking it, come up with another, scratch that one, ect. One of the things I worry about is the wind. The wind comes right over and down this hill. Its doesnt seem as bad in the summer as it does in the winter and fall. But taller plants are more likey to bend and break so I'm afraid to try any. I could use bushes or something for a kind of wind break, but I dont know how to incorporate them in and have it look nice.

I have been leaning toward yellows, purples and reds with some white and blues to soften the the hot colors. Like Coreopsis(yellow), veronicas,lavender or speedwell(purple),and for the red I was thinking salvias or/and coral bells. This would follow the curves of the wall with the Coreopsis able to flow over the wall alittle and bushy and then the others would be the upright statements and maybe some lupines that I WS. Oh and where I planted the tulips in the planters I am going to put in morning glories or pansies by seed or seedlings that I Winter Sowed =) to fill in for the rest of the year when the tulips are gone.
What are your thoughts on this? What do ya think?

I wish I hadnt mention the willow tree. It was just ment for a visual of what you would see and come to at the very top of the stairs and hill. It is too far away to matter as far as planting. Its just a beautiful tree and wanted to complement it somehow.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

: ) I think you're doing better than you think you are, actually...

now- I've seen things as fragile as lilac and butterfly bushes growing in what amounted to a wind tunnel before, and while they tend to 'lean' real breakage isn't all THAT much of a problem...

so let's back to design, eh?

Lavander is a favorite landscaping plant of mine- takes a while to establish itself- but it really does live forever, and will like the extra drainage by being near the wall...and if you can get the lupines to take around here, please tell me- I tried a few years back, but they weren't happy.

packing the gaps in the wall with 'stepable' groundcovers like Thyme, short sedums, stonecrops, and other alpine plants is never a bad idea- that's what they like best, and 'living' walls are wonderful things, indeed.

for the first year, definately look at the cascading habits of petunias, and sweet potato vines (which come in a stunning deep purple) as well as woodland and creeping phloxes, which will also take well to stone walls...

I think you have a good mix of verticals , clumps, and ground-huggers...maybe a nice burning bush on either side of the stairs leading to the willow?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 10:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CentricRain(z5 Ohio)


I wanted to do a couple of butterfly bushes and have seeds already started, so I may have to go ahead and try them there just to see. I guess I could transplant them if they dont do well. And would act as a little bit of a wind break for the rest of the plants.

My wall is the commercial type. Windsor stone. And dry stacked. Would planting in the gaps(which there are very few) widen the gaps as the plants grow?

I like the ideas that you have. Anymore? LOL

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 7:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here are just some suggestions--some are probably duplicates of what you've already gotten.

Sedums--there are so many varieties, just go to a nursery and pick out what you like. Golden Acre spreads rapidly, and is very hardy. Sedum oreganum and Sedum spathifolium are 2 others that are doing well for me. Butterflies are attracted to the flowers.

Thyme--many different varieties, many low growing and mat forming. Flowers are attractive to butterflies.

Prostrate Rosemary--just like the upright shrub, but low-growing and spreading.

Wild Strawberry--evergreen, white flowers in spring, followed by tiny red berries that are attractive to birds. I have this growing over my retaining wall.

Lavenders--there are the tall kind (3 ft tall), and dwarf varieties (eg, Hidcote and Munstead Dwarf; Jean Davis is another dwarf, with white to very pale lavender flowers). Tolerant of sun, poor soil and drought. Butterflies and bumblebees like the flowers.

Hen-And-Chicks--Sempervivens, Jovibari, Escheveria (sp?). Good plants to wedge into small spaces. Tolerant of poor, thin soil. These work well to fill in gaps between stones, or between a wall and pavers. Variety of colors and sizes.

Miniature Bulbs--Botanical (species) tulip and miniature daffodils (some only 6 to 8 inches tall), Muscari armeniacum, and miniature iris. I've planted M. armeniacum between the strawberry plants on my retaining wall, and plan to put mini daffodils along the side of my footpath.

Alliums--ornamental garlic and onions. Tolerant of poor soils and heat, flowers attractive to butterflies.

Dwarf conifers--many species are available as dwarfs; Juniper communis, Lawson's cypress (Port Orford Cedar), balsam fir, Hinoki cypress, etc. Will give some very attractive greenery in winter.

Something I've never tried, and honestly don't know how well it works--but I've heard of growing Clematis as a ground cover. Instead of training it to climb a trellis, just let it trail along the ground.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2004 at 8:16PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
I have a north facing bed that gets full bldg shade....
Planting among dense roots
The fruitless mulberry, privets, and Japanese maple...
Plant in tissue??
I'm new in plantings.. I just receive a plant from...
Shrubs Under Black Walnut Trees
Can I plant Serviceberry, Winterberry, and Bayberry...
low plants that like sun, damp feet- that deer do not like
Hi folks, I am gardening near Chapel Hill, NC and have...
Sponsored Products
Forever Green Art 6' AutumnTree
Beyond Stores
Costa Stacking Side Chair - Set of 4 - Fermob
$1,368.00 | HORNE
White 5.5'' Cacti Pot
$9.99 | zulily
Rotoluxe | Rotoluxeâ„¢ Tubbie Planter - Outdoor Use
Mini Green Tree
$24.50 | FRONTGATE
Nearly Natural Blooming Hydrangea Vase Arrangement Decorative Plant
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™