Garden Retaining Wall Construction

Garden retaining wall construction can turn a dull hot and sunny yard into a invitive oasis.

Are you thinking of adding a wall garden? Let me give you some information before you start this wall garden. The wall garden is a very useful and unusual form of rock gardening, in effect it is an artifical rock cliff laid rather regularly. Usually it is made of a retaining wall a few feet high, laid with earth instead of cement, often called a dry wall. Such rock walls can be used in both formal and informal areas. Much of the construction of the wall garden is the same for general rock planning.

Remember that the soil must be inserted in the same manner as in rock planning and at the back of the wall as well. The drainage for the wall garden is provided by special holes, or by a porous tile laid along the back of the wall near its base to collect all free water and carry it away. The same tile can be used in dry seasons to water the roots of the plants by sub-irrigation. If your wall is more than three feet high these drainage pipes much be laid or winter frost will throw them down sections of the wall. The soil mixture for a wall garden should contain a lot of sand (especially at the back of the wall base) and very little clay, with compost, and for the most part, near the wall face, because as you might well already know compost shrinks in bulk as it decays and swells when it is given water.

You could face the wall in any compass direction.

If you face it south there is a lot of winter heat on sunny days but then in the summer the rocks would be too hot to touch. Also plants would need to be considered that can stand the heat in the summer. A wall facing north (but still open to the light of the day) or in full sun just a few hours each day, can grow such alpine treasures as Primula or Saxifrage, and rock plants considered difficult. If some of the wall is facing the perpetual shade of your trees, or the shadow of a building, then you can plant small ferns and tiny wildflowers from woodland origins. Any exposure of the wall can be planted succesfully, but then your plants that will grow need to be considered for each exposure before starting to construct your wall garden.



I like to gather rocks from my local region, facturing in cost also, but remember that round boulders are not safe to use in quanity and wholly flat slabs, while they make a stable wall, have those crevices that are far too horizontal for the roots of plants. Mossy faces would be turned carefully to view, and freshly broken faces would give immediate effect of age. A good wall just requires a lot of planning and also individual ingenuity. Don't use any soft stones as these will break down and weather especially in the lowest part of the wall garden.

Remember the three requirements of rock laying (V-shaped crevices, flat chinkers between piled up rocks and an uptilk and backward slope to each rock) are very important. Without taking care on these, the wall will actually fall down and the plants will fall out onto the ground and perhaps be injured or destroyed. The entire wall garden must have some definite back slant from the base to the top (batter), at least one foot for each ten feet of hight. It must never be as vertical as a cemented wall. When the backward slope equals the height (a 45 degree wall) the result is a steep slope rather than a wall. In very informal conditions I would suggest that the profile of the wall garden vary in slope and the jutting forth of large stones but now if you really want a formal wall garden you would lay them to a definite line.

I would recommend planting creeping plants as they will make a film between stones and do not hide much of the rock area. I do hope this will help in your decision to build and have a wall garden.

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