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A Berm Adds A Nice Touch To A Landscape Area

What is a berm? It is a natural or man made elevated strip of land in a yard. It is different from a bank or slope as it can be anywhere from two to five or six feet wide and the length will vary. The top is level and a great solution for planting a variety of trees, shrubs or flowers.

Many of my clients have natural berms on their property due to the fact we live in the foothills of the mountains. Some people have also decided that this would be a nice added outdoor feature, and make their own. This landscape project is simple to create from scratch, or develop from an existing area.

I have designed and landscaped an entire backyard. Herbee thought it might be useful for you to get some suggestions on what to do in a natural berm area. Take a look at the two pictures below. This is of the same house. As you can see in these photos, there is some prep work to be done. The berm is located right in front of existing trees.

View Of Right Side Berm
View Across Berm

The first step is to remove the grass and any weeds from the area. Apply a grass and weed killer and wait one week for it to take affect.

Man made berms aren't difficult to install. You will have the advantage over a natural incline as you can build this area as wide and long as you want, and you probably won't need to spray for weeds. Prepare the ground like you would any other bed. A tiller can be used to work the soil, but keep in mind to try not to level the area. Rake out any debris.

The main goal is to get good quality top soil. Work the top soil in from one end to the other, working up the incline. Add any natural compost material with the soil, including bags of mushroom compost to enrich the soil.

Tamp the soil throughout the process of building the incline and landing. If you don't own a tamper, most rental places carry them. The tamper helps secure the soil in place. Once the incline and landing are built, you're ready to plant.

A Simple Berm Design



  1. Leyland Cypress
  2. Chinese Pizazz - Loropetalum
  3. Osmanthus -Tea Olive
  4. Mardi Gras Abelia
  5. Lemon Thread Cypress
  6. Blue Pacific Juniper
  7. Gardenia
  8. Globosa Nana


Evergreen Bank Design

You can plant across the entire landing and also on the incline. When planting across the landing, think about why you're landscaping a berm. What's your goal? Do you want privacy, or are you looking for a unique and special garden look?

Pine straw or mulch both work well as the final step. Some people even opt to install some lighting in this area. It's a wonderful accent to show off your plant specimens.

In this example, behind the clients property is a view of the mountains. They wanted some privacy, but also wanted to see the view. For other height options, use a few Emerald Green Arborvitaes along with some False Cypress. These two species could take the place of the Leyland Cypress.

Here are a few more ideas from Herbee for you to incorporate.

Emerald Green Arborvitae, False Cypress, Black Fountain Grass

Emerald Green Arborvitae False Cypress Black Fountain Grass

Both the Emerald Green Arborvitae and False Cypress will provide great privacy. They can be placed across the landing but not in the view of the mountains.

Another couple of plants to incorporate around the trees are Ruby Chinese Pizazz (Loropetalum) or Plum Delight Loropetalum. Include some ornamental grass such as black fountain. The Loropetalum and Ornamental Grass balance out the landing and also allows the clients their view. There are a variety of other plants that will work great along a landing.


Herbee's Hot Buzzing Loropetalum Shrubs


Ruby Loropetalum

The incline area can be planted with small junipers, perennials, mop cypress, and other smaller shrubs. I have seen the entire inclines planted in gorgeous colorful annuals and perennials. We like to see a few evergreens within these flowers to avoid dead spaces in the winter.

Many people love the idea of a bench on the landing. A possible addition would be putting a trellis behind the bench with a climbing vine. Creating your own or planting on a established berm is truly a simple landscape solution. Go ahead, get creative and add some wonderful plant specimens and color for you to enjoy!

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In.

Evergreen Plants --- Perennial Flowers

Plants That Come Back Each Year --- More Landscape Articles In Addition To Berm



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