Berms in landscaping

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How to Build a Berm for Landscaping

Berms are raised mounds of earth, usually forming a long ridge. These attractive landscaping features provide more soil depth for planting and help block sound and wind. Mountain bikers build heavy-duty berms to create banked turns. To build a berm for biking, start by removing all topsoil from the area, since topsoil will crumble and make the turn unstable.

Then, cover the area with a 2 to 4 inch layer of dirt, and use a rake to compact it. You'll also need to incorporate a drain at the downhill end of the turn to allow water to run off. Next, build the berm up in 2 to 4 inch layers until the slope reaches your desired height. If the dirt doesn't stick together, rough up the surface to help the new layer of dirt stay in place. Finish by making the surface as smooth as possible, including by removing any stones or rocks.

For tips on how to make a berm for your garden, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No. Log in Facebook Loading Google Loading Civic Loading No account yet? Create an account. We use cookies to make wikiHow great.

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Together, they cited information from 11 references. Learn more Building a Berm for Mountain Biking. Tips and Warnings.A berm can be a useful and an attractive part of your landscape, adding height and visual interest while also providing a wind or noise barrier or even changing and improving drainage.

Looking for some ideas for planting on a berm? Read on to learn more. A berm is essentially just a raised bit of the landscape, which you may choose to add to your yard for any variety of reasons: improved aesthetics, as a focal point, for a wind break, as a privacy screen, or to redirect drainage.

Regardless of the reason, your new berm will be just a hill until you add plantings to it that make practical sense and that add to the beauty of your garden. For instance, trees are an obvious choice if your berm is for privacy or blocking wind or noise. But you can also add any number of other plants to make a beautiful garden structure. Here are some great ideas for plants for berms:. A landscape berm planting is not quite like your other beds.

The ground is raised up and the soil can become too compacted and dry. To plant a successful berm, make sure you use good soil, cultivate it well, and choose plants that will help prevent erosion. Water your plants regularly, as the soil can dry out quickly. You can also use mulch around plants to reduce erosion and help keep moisture in the soil.

Read more articles about Landscape Ideas. Friend's Email Address. Your Name. Your Email Address. Send Email. Landscape Ideas. Image by ozgurcoskun.Landscaping berms provide privacy, break up large areas of flat land and showcase plants. Perfectly flat land might make it easy to mow your lawn, but flat land lacks the visual interest of a rolling landscape. Berms -- small, elongated hills with a gradual slope -- add height so you can showcase plants on a raised platform.

You can use a berm to create a privacy screen with small trees, to divide sections of your yard or simply to add dimension to your outdoor space.

Berms look most natural when they are only 2 to 3 feet tall and should be four to six times as long as they are wide. Sketch the design of the berm to scale on graph paper before committing to the design so you can make sure you have enough room to build a berm that looks natural in your space. Berms to showcase trees should slope out horizontally 5 to 7 feet for every 1 foot of height; berms for small plants can thrive on steeper slopes of about 3 to 4 feet of run for every 1 foot of rise.

The peak of the berm should be positioned closer to one end instead of in the center of the berm and the top of the berm should be flat to prevent water from running off the sides of the slope. Rather than designing a perfect oval, you can have undulating tapered edges, multiple peaks or even a crescent shape. Lay out the design for the berm on the ground with garden hoses; the garden hoses flex easily so you can achieve curves and make design changes before fully committing to a design.

After you are satisfied with the shape of the berm, you can transfer the outline to the turf with landscaping spray paint. Remove the sod layer from inside the marked outline, using a spade or sod cutter to cut through the turf. You can leave the turf in place, if desired, but carving out the grass makes it easier to see your design as you build up the berm.

Add clean fill dirt to the inside of the berm design perimeter to build up the bulk of the berm. Spray the mound with a garden hose to moisten the soil and pack the soil down tightly. Cover the fill dirt with a few inches up to 1 foot of clay soil, depending on the total berm height in your plan.

berms in landscaping

Make any final corrections in the berm shape with the clay layer. Although clay and fill dirt are not required, clay is often used because it sticks well and is less likely to erode after a heavy rain, which can affect the berm's shape. Flatten the topsoil on top of the berm with a shovel so the berm doesn't form a pointed peak. Drag the topsoil with a bow rake down to the outer perimeter of the berm outline to achieve the necessary slope for the berm and smooth the edges.

Pack the topsoil gently to hold it in place on the sides of the hill. Place large flagstones and boulders throughout the berm to give the berm a more natural appearance. Bury one-third to one-half of each stone so the stones appear as natural fixtures on the hill.

Plant your choice of small trees, shrubs, perennial and annual flowers and groundcovers on the berm as soon as possible so the roots can take hold and anchor the soil in place on the sides of the slope. The top of the berm is a great location for showcasing short plants that often get lost when planted on flat ground. You can plant several trees at the top of the berm, but avoid planting in a straight line, which can appear unnatural. Medium-height plants and groundcovers work to fill in space on the sides of the slope and helps to keep soil from washing down the slope.

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around plants on the berm. Mulches with irregular shapes, such as shredded bark, work best because the long pieces tend to lock together to resist washing down the slope.

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt.

She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites. Skip to main content. Home Guides Garden Landscaping. Home Guides Garden Landscaping Landscaping berms provide privacy, break up large areas of flat land and showcase plants.You may not have noticed them before, but many gardeners and landscape designers incorporate berms in the landscape.

What is a berm and what are berms used for? There are a number of berm uses. They feature prominently in the design of golf courses, for instance, but what about for the home gardener?

Read on to learn how to use a berm in your own landscape. A berm is often overlooked because it is specifically designed to blend into a landscape, and because at its essence, a berm is simply a mound of soil. Berms are often linear, always rounded and may vary in height. Berm uses are either practical or aesthetic. Another use for a berm is to slow or direct runoff on steep slopes.

In this case, a berm is often accompanied by a swale. Sometimes, a berm is used in the landscape to create a natural looking raised bed or to highlight a certain area or focal point of the garden. Berms in the landscape are also used to redirect traffic, either foot traffic or, in the case of BMX or mountain bike courses, to steer bicyclists to stay on the course. And berms are commonly used in the aforementioned golf courses.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how to build a berm. Your landscape will help dictate the shape and design of a berm along with your needs and aesthetic preferences. There are, however, a couple of things to keep in mind when building a berm in the landscape. Proportion is everything. The goal is to create a long, sinuous, gently sloping structure.

Read more articles about Garden Spaces. Friend's Email Address. Your Name. Your Email Address. Send Email. Garden Spaces. What is a Berm? What are Berms for? Stick to the following basic guidelines before building a berm: A berm in the landscape should be times longer than it is wide. It should not be any taller than inches cm. Always create wide curves that transition seamlessly into the landscape.

Determine what types of plants you want and where, while keeping microclimates in mind, as this may affect your selections. For example, water drains more quickly at the top, so choose plants for drier conditions here and moisture-loving plants at the bottom.

Also, berms facing south or west are warmer than those facing north or east. Applying mulch, like shredded bark, will help reduce water runoff and erosion in the berm while keeping down weeds. Draw out your intended berm on some graph paper prior to digging and then make an outline of the proposed berm in the landscape.

Step back and see how it looks before continuing to build the berm. This step may seem trivial, but it is a lot easier to map out the project first then to jump in and dig only to start over once again. Did you find this helpful? Share it with your friends!Learn something new every day More Info Landscape berm construction is easy and done for a variety of reasons.

berms in landscaping

A landscape berm can be used for adding interest and height to a specific area. By using mounded soil, dull, flat areas can be given dimension.

Berms can also be used for blocking out unwanted views, redirecting drainage, creating privacy, or emphasizing a focal point. An earth berm is made up of mounded soil; however, many landscape berms often include some type of fill as well.

Suitable sources of fill include rubble, asphalt, plant debris, or sand. It is also, on average, about four times as long as it is high.

Landscape berms oftentimes take on a curved or crescent shape as well. Just as with garden beds, proper planning beforehand is essential. The design is usually accomplished much the same too. When creating a landscape berm, its shape should be outlined using flour, chalk, or spray paint.

Landscaping Earthworks

Once the outline is complete, all present grass should be removed. Soil can then be used to slowly build up a sloping mound, which should be tamped firmly as soil is continually added. This is done to prevent air pockets and possible collapse of the berm, which should be solid. The landscape berm should gradually trail out into the lawn or surrounding area.

berms in landscaping

Since the berm should fit naturally into the landscape, it helps to take not of its appearance as the landscape berm begins to take shape.

Landscape berms may have one or more peaks depending on size. However, the peak, or peaks, should be located near one end rather than in the center. This will help the berm maintain a more natural appearance.Landscaping berms provide privacy, break up large areas of flat land and showcase plants.

Perfectly flat land might make it easy to mow your lawn, but flat land lacks the visual interest of a rolling landscape.

Berms -- small, elongated hills with a gradual slope -- add height so you can showcase plants on a raised platform. You can use a berm to create a privacy screen with small trees, to divide sections of your yard or simply to add dimension to your outdoor space.

Berms look most natural when they are only 2 to 3 feet tall and should be four to six times as long as they are wide. Sketch the design of the berm to scale on graph paper before committing to the design so you can make sure you have enough room to build a berm that looks natural in your space.

Berms to showcase trees should slope out horizontally 5 to 7 feet for every 1 foot of height; berms for small plants can thrive on steeper slopes of about 3 to 4 feet of run for every 1 foot of rise.

The peak of the berm should be positioned closer to one end instead of in the center of the berm and the top of the berm should be flat to prevent water from running off the sides of the slope.

Rather than designing a perfect oval, you can have undulating tapered edges, multiple peaks or even a crescent shape. Lay out the design for the berm on the ground with garden hoses; the garden hoses flex easily so you can achieve curves and make design changes before fully committing to a design.

After you are satisfied with the shape of the berm, you can transfer the outline to the turf with landscaping spray paint. Remove the sod layer from inside the marked outline, using a spade or sod cutter to cut through the turf. You can leave the turf in place, if desired, but carving out the grass makes it easier to see your design as you build up the berm.

Add clean fill dirt to the inside of the berm design perimeter to build up the bulk of the berm. Spray the mound with a garden hose to moisten the soil and pack the soil down tightly. Cover the fill dirt with a few inches up to 1 foot of clay soil, depending on the total berm height in your plan. Make any final corrections in the berm shape with the clay layer.

berms in landscaping

Although clay and fill dirt are not required, clay is often used because it sticks well and is less likely to erode after a heavy rain, which can affect the berm's shape. Flatten the topsoil on top of the berm with a shovel so the berm doesn't form a pointed peak. Drag the topsoil with a bow rake down to the outer perimeter of the berm outline to achieve the necessary slope for the berm and smooth the edges. Pack the topsoil gently to hold it in place on the sides of the hill.

Place large flagstones and boulders throughout the berm to give the berm a more natural appearance. Bury one-third to one-half of each stone so the stones appear as natural fixtures on the hill. Plant your choice of small trees, shrubs, perennial and annual flowers and groundcovers on the berm as soon as possible so the roots can take hold and anchor the soil in place on the sides of the slope.

The top of the berm is a great location for showcasing short plants that often get lost when planted on flat ground. You can plant several trees at the top of the berm, but avoid planting in a straight line, which can appear unnatural.

Medium-height plants and groundcovers work to fill in space on the sides of the slope and helps to keep soil from washing down the slope.A berm is a mound of earth with sloping sides located between two areas of approximately the same elevation, according to the University of Minnesota Sustainable Landscaping Information Series. You can use berms in your yard to direct or contain water, reduce erosion, provide privacy, screen out noise, add interest to a flat landscape, separate different areas or direct foot traffic.

Keeping rainwater on the property to conserve water is one of the most common uses of berms. This is generally achieved with a combination of swales -- wide, shallow depressions -- and low berms. To form a low berm, dig a swale at approximately right angles to the flow of water, and pile the soil removed from the swale on the downhill side of the swale.

Good Plants For Berms: What To Grow On A Berm

Then plant high water-use plants in the swale and lower water-use plants on top of the berm. To make a front or side yard more private, build a waist-high berm with small trees and shrubs on it.

People seated on the inside of the berm will not hear street noise and will not be seen from the street. The berm should gradually feather into the landscape and should not be so steep that soil and mulch washes down from it. The base of the berm can be made with fill or rubble covered with topsoil to reduce expenses.

A rock garden berm should look as natural as possible. Make sure you use all rocks of the same geologic type.

What Are Berms For: Tips For Using Berms In The Landscape

Partially bury them in the soil so they look like they form a substrate. Mounding, clumping and creeping plants spread between the rocks should also be placed in natural-looking formations. Berms can also show off mini mountain meadows or English cottage gardens. The landscaping on the berm should blend with and complement the other landscaping and the style of your house. A berm between an adult sitting area and a play area for children defines the spaces and provides privacy without completely separating them.

Next to a parking area, a berm will encourage people to take a path or walkway rather than trampling the landscaping. Berms can also keep people from cutting across a corner lot or going through a yard to reach a public area such as a park.

Use plants to emphasize the form and purpose of the berm. If your home has a septic system and there is less than 3 feet between the system and saturated soil, the system must be in a mound. The mound can be treated as a berm and landscaped, with some restrictions.

Use plants that will survive on the natural rainfall of the area. Do not plant trees on the mound, and do not fertilize or irrigate it. Inspect the mound regularly. Check soil depth, look for burrowing animals and replace plants that are not thriving. Lynn Doxon has a Ph. Skip to main content.


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