If you’re looking for a way to spice in your backyard then a landscape berm may be just what you need. Landscape berms can become your entire yard or they can be added in small areas. It’s all up to the designer, you.
While landscape berms aren’t for everyone, most people can create a dream yard with landscape berms. But in order to do that, you need to know the basics about how to create landscape berms safely.
What Is A Landscape Berm?
A landscape berm is a rounded mound of soil that rises above ground level. Berms can be almost any shape. Common shapes are circles, kidney beans, and ovals. Though you can even create square berms.
Most landscape berms are a few yards wide, but if you only have a small space, you can stick with just a few feet wide. Work with what you have to get a good ratio. After all, you still need a walking path around the berm.
What Is A Natural Berm?
A natural berm is the raised area near a river that has been washed away. While most landscape berms aren’t connected to water, the look is very similar. Some people even like to make the berm looked packed and washed away.
Checking For Utilities
This is a very important step that needs to be done before you even begin digging out your landscape berm. The easiest way to do this is to call the utility company and ask them for directions. They can connect you with someone that can help.
A riskier option includes looking at the blueprints for the home. There is usually a paper that has the utilities planned out. This may or may not include city utilities. This is why it is best to contact the electric and water companies.
If you don’t make sure there aren’t any utilities in your building area, then you may end up cracking a line. This is not only dangerous for you but everyone in the vicinity. So never skip this important step.
How To Build A Landscape Berm
Building a landscape berm can be as simple as piling topsoil on your ground in a pattern. Or without even thinking about a pattern. But a more common way is to dig down, fill it with a filler, add a clay layer, and then finish with topsoil.
This sounds simple, but taking it slow and doing things right is something you’ll never regret. Even when it comes to other things in life. But today, we’re simply talking about building landscape berms.
Step 1: Create A Border
The first thing you want to do is to create a border. This can be done in a variety of ways. You can use a hose, flour, a rope, or a chalk line. It doesn’t matter what you use because it is simply a guideline.
Some people even like to use a hose or rope first so they can easily adjust it. Then, once they have the border in a place they are satisfied with, they add a chalk line or flour around it to mark it better.
Step 2: Dig Out The Berm Area
Now that you have the border laid out, you can begin digging. A few inches will do, but most people prefer around 6-12 inches. This part really doesn’t matter, but digging down at least 3-inches is preferable.
Keep digging until you have the entire thing dug out. It doesn’t have to be completely level as you can level it out later with the filler and clay. At this point, we are just giving a good base to start with.
Step 3: Add Gravel Base
Now you can add gravel. Any type of gravel will do. Pea gravel is a good choice but so is limestone gravel because it is cheaper than most other types. Choose the gravel and add it to the holen that you previously dug.
It doesn’t matter too much how much gravel you put. Just leave at least a few inches for the other layers. For example, if you dug six inches deep, you can add 3-inches of gravel to the hole, leaving room for other layers.
Step 4: Add Clay
This step can be skipped but adding it can make your berm more stable and gives the other two layers something to stick to. So if you had clay-heavy soil then adding an inch or two at this point is ideal.
But if you can’t find any clay soil or you find it’s too expensive in your area, then you can skip it entirely. It won’t have a big enough impact on the final result for it to matter. That said, use it if you have it.
Step 5: Add Topsoil And Water
Now it’s time for the fun part. Add topsoil to the rest of the ditch. You want it to go into the hole at least one inch, otherwise, there isn’t much of a point in digging the ditch in the first place. So add the dirt to the rest of the ditch.
After you fill the rest of the hole, you can add the mound. This is where you focus on the details, shaping the soil. Then, add water and shape some more if you wish. Adding water is important to make sure it can handle rain.
Step 6: Add Plants
Finally, add plants and light rocks if you wish. You can plant as usual because you have dug down and there is plenty of soil for the plants to grow in. It’s quite common for multiple plants to be added.
It is also common to add a stone barrier. Not necessarily a retaining wall, but a single layer of natural-looking rocks that border the landscape berm. This can help keep the soil in place as well as look quite nice.
Why Build A Landscape Berm
The main reason to build a berm is that it adds dimension to your yard that isn’t naturally there. Berms spruce up a place and make it look higher-end. Since landscape berms are cheap to make, people add them with any budget.
A berm is also considered a raised garden bed because you add rich topsoil that plants can grow in. So if you have trouble with your soil then a berm can be just what you need for plants to start flourishing.
Berms also make great sound barriers. You can create a more private area with berms near the outside of your yard. Build a nice cookout area in the middle of them for added privacy and shelter from the wind.
Finally, berms are perfect for small plants because it can be hard to appreciate plants that only grow a few inches tall. But with berms, they can be raised to eye level or close to it, so everyone can enjoy them.
Tips For Building Your Landscape Berm
Though following the simple instructions will get the job done, there are a few things that can really help you make the most of your landscape berms. Here are a few things to consider before you get started.
A weed barrier underneath or directly on top of the gravel is a good way to keep weeds at bay. You want to be able to choose which plants you allow on your landscape berm. To do that, you need to prevent weeds.
Adding a draining system to your berm can prevent a lot of water buildup. Starting with the gravel layer, you can create a French drain that leads from it. Learn how to make a French drain on your own!
Mulch Top Layer
A mulch top layer can add a parking lot or playground vibe to your landscape berm. But if done right, it can also make it look much higher-end as well as protect the topsoil from traffic, which should be discouraged.
Grass seed will ensure you have a nice even layer of grass on your berm. If you don’t want grass, then don’t add the seed. But if you prefer grass mounds instead of dirt mounds, then grass seed is a must.
Don’t do this right away. But after a week or two of letting the dirt settle, you can add furniture to the mound. If it sinks in, then water the topsoil and let it settle again. Just make sure not toa dd furniture unless the top of the mound is flat.
When To Build A Landscape Berm
Building landscape berms is primarily up to you. They can add a lot of depth and personality to your yard as well as make your yard richer. But not everyone is in love with the idea of having piles of dirt in their yard.
There are alternatives to landscape mounds, however. But if you like certain parts about landscape berms then you can take those aspects and apply them to another way of doing it. Make it your own and it will show in the magic of your landscape.