Plants for a boulder retaining wall?

tcp3April 19, 2011

I have a boulder retaining wall about two and a half feet tall and need some plants to put at the bottom of the wall and in between the boulders. It is inbetween two houses and on the north part of the block so it doesn't get a lot of sun. The soil is a little on the sandy side.

Obviously, my foremost concern is plants that can keep the soil from washing out from between the boulders. Creepers, climbers, flowers, whatever. I'm open to anything that does the job

Another problem is that it's currently infested with creeping charlie. I don't have a problem going through and weeding them initially but I'd like to plant something that can crowd them out so that I don't have to weed it every week.

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karinl(BC Z8)

The creeping charlie is an interesting problem. I'm not sure I would plant until I had that somewhat under control because I think it comes back from remaining root bits, or? You could weed and mulch for a while (to avoid new seeds sprouting) until you had a lot of the roots out, so you aren't trying to avoid disturbing delicate new plants. Or maybe in this setting you could smother, steam, or even use Round-up (not my favourite option at all, but I think it could work) and then plant and mulch around the new plants.

I'd hit your local nursery for shade-loving ground cover plants; almost any will do that are hardy in your area. I have a couple in mind but would have to look up if they're hardy for you, plus there's no guarantee you could get them.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 12:27PM
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Thanks for the response.

Eliminating the creeping charlie isn't an option. This is a couple feet away from the property line and the neighbor has it in their yard. This neighbor hasn't shown a propensity for lawn maintenance and is opposed to all herbicides on account of her environmentalist paranoia and young children. If I eliminated it from my yard it would come right back.

I'd like to just weed this area then sew seeds for another plant that can become established before getting choked off by the creeping charlie. I can do some weeding while it grows but by june or july I'd like to just leave it alone and have my plant be able to survive.

The creeping charlie sucks but at this point I'm just trying to keep it from dominating the area.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 3:32PM
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By the way I have some large and well stocked local nurseries. Part of my indecision is due to the wide selection available and my ignorance about all my options. I'll do some research on whatever is suggested anyway so don't worry about having to check that stuff out for me.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 3:53PM
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Sempervivums - hens and chicks - are classics for this type of use. They are extremely hardy and will grow anywhere and in virtually any kind of soil, except for boggy, poorly drained soil. They need minimal soil to grow and can be tucked into any little crevass or space between the boulders and the 'chicks' spread nicely to become large colonies :-) And there are a zillion different cultivars so you can get a lot of variation in form and coloring.

Although they look like succulents and so somewhat xeric or desert-like in appearance, they are hardy to like zone 2 and will grow in quite heavy shade. I have seen them growing well in the dense shade provided by the canopy of large conifers. May not be the best at keeping the creeping Charle out, however.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:44AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Don't feel you have to let your neighbour bully you with her weeds and her environmentalism. Heaven knows I'm no fan of herbicides - but if your neighbour will not help you with mechanical removal, she leaves you no choice. That is the conversation you need to have with her, if you talk to her about it at all. Me, I would just go out there quietly with the roundup type stuff one summer morning or two.

As long as herbicides are still permitted in your area, that is, unlike here, where our moralizing city council has banned them but has unfortunately not yet passed other legislation - like personal responsibility for plants that encroach - to resolve these neighbour problems.

Now, I'm not really sure if creeping charley does grow from roots. It may be amenable to smothering, so you might also consider mulch.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 12:50PM
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