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Planting at front of Victorian terrace

I want to reinstate retaining walls at the front of our victorian terrace, by the door and front window, and add plants to them. Questions - when the walls are built do I need to consider drainage? Can I fill the area retained, very small, with soil and plant as per a normal flower bed, with box hedging? Or should I used planter boxes, which would remain hidden behind the wall. Thanks

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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,179

    Hi Kylee - I'm not sure if I've completely understood what you're trying to do, but make sure  the walls aren't going to affect any drains or damp course etc. You'll need to leave some gaps for drainage - holes along the base of the walls - and try to make those so that water will drain away from your house, not towards it. There's no reason why you can't plant directly into the bed, but if the base is solid, rather than straight onto soil,  make sure you have a layer of gravel at the bottom to aid drainage. 

    The medium you put in the bed will depend on what you want to plant. Long term planting will need soil, not just compost, for instance. The house wall will create a bit of  a rain shadow too, so be vigilant with watering. A mulch of gravel will help retain moisture and set off the planting. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Kylee2Kylee2 Posts: 5

    Thank you for the response! This is exactly what I wanted to know. I now just need to research what plants are suitable. The bed won't get much sun, but wanted a hardy hedgelike plant to fill up the bed eventually, and something that climbs up the side of the doorway. Any suggestions on hardy low maintenance climbers? And what else is there besides a box hedge? Thanks again

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,064

    I'd go for sarcococca which is also evergreen and has fragrant flowers in winter/early spring or lonicera nitida which has a golden green form and a variegated form to lighten up the space a bit.

    Box is increasingly prone to a blight which is sweeping the country and for which there is no cure available to amateur gardeners.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,150

    Apologies if I'm reading it wrong. Is the front garden sloping down away from the house wall?   Your saying, "reinstating retaining walls" makes me wonder.

    Building up on a slope is fine, but a wall infilled with soil, directly in front of the exterior house wall which comes above the DPC is asking for trouble.

    You say the planting area will be "very small".  How small is small?  A few inches deep is not enough for shrubs but could work for other plants such as alpines. 

    The aspect is important too. North/South/East or West facing? Your location will make a difference as well, plants that thrive in France for Obelixx may not do as well for Fairygirl in Scotland.

    Sorry if I sound like an old nag image, just want more info in order to best help you with your query.  BTW, Obx & Fairy really know their stuff, and give top notch advice?.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,179

    Blushing here Kitty....very kind of you - not sure about being expert though.....image

    I totally agree though -  small in what way Kaylee? The planting depth is important for your choices, and particularly if you want a climber. That will need a lot more soil depth than many perennials or the alipnes alread mentioned. There will be plenty of planting choices, but more info needed  image

    Can you upload some photos of the area? Start witht the camera icon top right, and if they don't upload, try resizing smaller. Photos up to about 2.5 MB load easily. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Kylee2Kylee2 Posts: 5

    Hi, thanks for the response. It's going to be an area at the front of the terrace. with a short wall built to create a bed for planting. See photo.

    image

  • Personally I would use pots / planters in that situation. You don't want to be piling soil againt the wall of your house as you'll be asking for damp problems. It also looks like you have air bricks in your bay walls which are presumably ventilating a suspended timber floor in the front room - don't block those up!

  • Kylee2Kylee2 Posts: 5

    Good point! I'll definitely flag this with my surveyor & builder before we decide which approach is best. I wonder if there is a way to keep the soil bed away from the house itself, as I have seen the same properties with hedges in the ground and other plants. I'm amazed how some even grow in so little soil! thanks for feedback

  • Kylee2Kylee2 Posts: 5

    image

    Here is an example photo of hedging with a climber I quite like. I was intending on putting a taller wall than this edging though.

    And another photo of how little space these hedges seem to need, as long as they have decent soil and drainage below. 

    image

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