Retaining walls tend to be constructed using wood, blocks or stone and lack any color or visual interest as they are only made to keep the earth behind them from sliding or moving. However, you can decorate the wall with cascading plants that are grown in the soil above. Selecting flowering cascading plants will add color and, combined with thick foliage of the plant, camouflage a plain and boring retaining wall.
Verbena, particularly trailing verbena (Verbena canadensis) is a low maintenance, drought tolerant plant that will spill over a retaining wall with blooming clusters of vividly colored flowers. A perennial in milder climates with no frost, verbena thrives in sunny locations with well draining soil. Pinch the ends of new growth early in the season to encourage the plant to fill in. Grown from seeds, cuttings or bedding plants, verbena has an extended blooming season, from early summer into mid-fall.
Like verbena, petunias thrive in sun, produce an abundance of bright flowers and has a trailing variety, trailing petunia (Calibrachoa x hybrida). Petunias will bloom from late spring into October, tolerating light frost. Classified as a hardy annual, petunias flower so profusely that the plant often slows in flowering during the late summer. Trimming the long branches of the petunia will revive it and it will again produce multiple blooms. Petunias prefer moist, well draining soil, though it can tolerate periods of drought.
Although creeping phlox (P. subulata) has a shorter blooming season than verbena or petunia, it is well worth considering for cascading over your retaining wall. A hardy perennial, creeping phlox blooms in the spring with small, star-shaped flowers that will create a retaining wall of color. After flowering, the dense foliage is attractive. Propagate by cuttings or plant division in the fall or early spring.
Along with blooming a carpet of flowers in early summer, creeping thyme has an added bonus of aromatic foliage. Thriving in full sun and less than desirable growing conditions, creeping thyme varieties are hardy evergreen perennials. Drought tolerant and easy to care for, cover the plant with mulch over the winter for a dense display of colorful flowers in the spring and early summer.
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