When building a garden wall, you have many options in term of materials. The wall can also be scaled in size to create a beautifully proportioned element in your landscape. It can be a backdrop for your larger shrubs, or a foot-high border for some pretty flower beds. These types of walls add a decorative element to a garden space and can add value to the property as well.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Rachel Klein adds, "Depending on how tall your wall will be, you may need to file for a permit with your city or town municipality. Check all local codes before building your wall."
Rock Garden Wall
Your rock garden wall can be made using purchased or scavenged rocks. Scavenged rocks are an economical choice and a great way to make use of the natural resources in the garden area. Use larger rocks on the bottom and smaller rocks for a decorative flourish at the top of the wall. Round rocks look great but are less stable and harder to place. For beginners, flagstone, sandstone, and shale are relatively flat and easy to work with. For these, the weight should be enough to keep them in place and mortar may not be necessary. Fill the cracks in between with rock bits and chips. However, mortar can be used to set the rocks if they are unstable. A homemade mortar solution is 1 part cement to 6 parts sand and 2 parts lime. Mix, ideally with a cement mixer. Look at different examples of rock garden walls to spark your ideas.
Brick Garden Wall
Your brick garden wall should be made in much the same way as a rock wall, except with the use of bricks. A brick wall gives more options for decoration. For instance, the top of the wall can be made from small rocks. You can also use a line of small rocks along the middle of the wall if desired. Large rocks could be used as a base and bricks could be placed on top of the rocks to build the wall up. The bricks can be purchased or scavenged at demolition sites for free or for a very small fee. Building a brick wall can be challenging for a beginner and in most cases they are only built by experienced masons.
TIP: Rachel suggests, "If you do not like the style of your existing wall, consider buying stone or brick panels that you adhere to the surface of the wall. This way, the wall looks as though it is made of a beautiful material for a fraction of the cost. Kits can be bought at a garden supply store or ordered online."
Garden Wall Sizes
You can size the wall in many ways. Retaining walls are fairly tall and wide. Privacy walls are also large in size and either can make wonderful garden features that enable you to train climbing plants. Smaller walls can be placed around garden areas and short walls can be used around individual flower beds. Make sure you measure before you begin construction and that you plan ahead. You may want your garden wall to be taller to block an unsightly view. However, if there is a view you love, make sure not to cover it up. If you have a bed of sun-loving flowers nearby, make sure a new shadow will not infringe on their sunlight.
Garden Wall Shapes
Choosing the shape of your wall is another decorative element. Garden walls can be straight and rectangular, or rounded and irregular. An interesting garden effect could be created by building a curving wall or even creating a zigzag design. If your garden wall is going to close off a section of your yard, you need to also consider garden gates. The gate you choose should blend with both the style of the wall and your home. Learn more about different styles of garden gates here!
You can add decorative elements to your garden wall, such as lightweight decoration depicting an interest that you may have. Painting the walls can also provide an attractive option. Plain white paint offers a pretty contrast to a colorful flower bed. Dark green helps the wall blend in with the garden plantings, while a bright color or even a mural add a unique focal point for the garden. Pretty ceramic tile can be used to cover a cement wall, or used to create a decorative mosaic. Decorations such as mirrors, artwork, candle holders, clocks, or lanterns give life to a boring wall. If you love the look and color of your wall, consider putting spotlights below the wall to illuminate it at night. You can get fun with your decorations and use your own personal style to make the garden look like you.
When adding window boxes to garden walls, you will need brackets to make sure that the planters are secure. Pretty pots built especially for hanging with a flat side and hook can be bought at most garden supply stores or ordered online. Inside, flowing vines look best. Sweet potato vines, wave petunias, verbena, calibrachoa, and purslane are all vine-like annuals that would look gorgeous against a wall backdrop. If your garden area is short on space, consider using your wall for a veggie garden. Herbs, beans, peppers, and lettuce can all be easily planted in containers. Flowing veggies that would look great hanging down include strawberries, squash, zucchini, cucumber, and many types of melon.
TIP: Rachel advises, "For maximum sturdiness, it is recommended that you instal an anchor in your wall to hang items from. You will need to drill a hole into the wall to instal the anchor. This extra step will ensure that you do not damage the wall or your decoration."
Garden Wall Plantings
Vines along the garden wall can make it more of a decorative feature. This is called a living wall. Most vines need something to cling onto to support them while they climb. Placing a lattice or attaching wires or a screen on your wall may be necessary depending on what type of vine you want and how it grows. Ivy can scale a wall without much outside help. However, it is an invasive species and needs to be watched carefully so it does not invade other beds or tear the wall apart. Other climbers that look great along a wall include climbing roses, climbing hydrangeas, garden clematis, hardy passionflower, and perennial sweet pea. Herbs and flowers will also grow well along the bottom of the wall and are equally at home in planters. If you are not crazy about the appearance of your wall, consider planting bushy bushes in front to cover it somewhat. Barberry, holly, boxwood, and euonymus are all hardy, full, mid-sized bushes.