Walls add architecture elements to the garden. They create vertical interest and define outdoor rooms. And, they can provide architectural craftsmanship with beauty and character. Walls in the landscape help organize the landscape design. So plant shrubs and perennials around walls to create contrasting textures and beautiful garden aesthetics.
Walls come in two main of varieties and uses. There are freestanding walls used to define space and offer seating at the patio. Or there are retaining walls that resolve grade changes. And the landscape planting around each type response to the walls design purpose.
Freestanding walls define landscape spaces and outdoor rooms. They can be tall walls that create privacy and security. Or you can build low walls for seating and to delineate gardens. Landscape craftsman construct walls with a range of materials. Stone walls are classic in the landscape. But timber walls offer cost effective alternatives. And the availability of exotic woods makes timber an especially good option for modern landscape design.
Planting Design at Walls
Landscape planting designers approach each type of wall with specific design principles. If the wall is tall and built with economical material, the landscape architect may specify larger plantings. Plants like Cotinus (smoke tree) grow large enough to hide a taller wall. And Smoke Bush (Cotinus) also looks fabulous on top of a low wall as in the picture above.
The landscape designer should not hide well crafted walls with high quality natural materials. So not tall shrubs in front of beautiful walls. Single trunk taller trees will accent a wall and allow a viewer to see through. And install low plantings of perennials in front of the wall to create foreground interest. And Polyganatum is a lovely, simple accent in front of the wall (see picture above).
We like to create planting designs with medium size flowering shrubs and perennials behind seating walls. Shrubs like hydrangea or perennials like Echinacea will bloom above the wall. And they provide a sense of grounded stability for the person sitting. However, you want to avoid flowers that will attract a lot of insects such as bees.