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Earth banks

Has anyone had an experience of making or being involved in making an earth bank?  We need to have a new one built at the end of our property/field to make a boundary between our and our neighbour's land.  Any advice would be of interest.


  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,740
    edited October 2018
    I'm not sure what sort of advice you need - how to build a bank safely? Or what sort of plants to use?

    Taking a guess at what you mean: Soil generally 'rests' at about a 45 degree slope. If you need to make the sides steeper than that you'll have to use some sort of retaining element to make it safe. At 45 degrees, that means it is as high as it is wide ON EACH SIDE, so if it's a free-standing bank in a flat field (say) and you want to make it 2 metres high, as a simple earth mound it will possibly have to be 4 metres wide at the base. If the soil is very sandy, it might 'slump', so could need to be less than 45 degrees slope (i.e. even wider). If it's heavy clay, it might still hold together when the sides are almost vertical, especially if you're compacting it well as you build it and as long as it's not raining.

    Round here the traditional banks have a battered stone face - i.e. like a dry stone wall that is leaning slightly into the bank, with earth in the middle and some big stones that go right through to 'tie' the two faces together. That allows the 'hedgebanks' to be much narrower. They are still usually a good metre wide for a 6 feet high bank to keep the sheep in.

    Grass is not structural. It won't resolve the basic construction problem. It will just hold the surface together until a hard frost or heavy rain, at which point the bank will probably begin to collapse.

    Is that what you were asking? If you want some planting suggestions, it's much easier to answer  :)
    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,293
    We have what I refer to as The Long Barrow which was made at the back end ofour paddock from all the gunge and earth that chappy with the mini digger cleaned out of our pond.   At frist he just dumped it all in piles along the boundary and then cleaned it up and smoothed it out with a level top and carefully angled sides.

    We've done nothing to it and it is now covered in wild plants and weeds which will one day be grazed and it is all holding together despite having 2 years' worth of rain starting just a month after it was made.

    The trick is to get a "man who can" with a digger.  Ours is a magician.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Our "man" suggested either an A or n shaped earth bank - either built using earth and sowing grass seed to help the earth to meld together or using turf to cover the earth bank.  At present the earth bank is in our neighbours garden but because in his wisdom he has decided to turn his garden into a mini housing estate he wants to remove his earth bank and erect a low hedge or perhaps a fence.  There is a huge amount of wildlife in his bank from rodents, hedgehog, birds nesting or roosting and we have two kestrels that appear from time to time to feed here. The bank is also home to butterflies, moths etc. We feel that it would be good to make a replacement bank on our side of the property - it will take a few years to naturalize though. Thanks for your suggestions and as for the planting aspect we will come to that in time, although at present the bank has brambles, some wild daffs and plenty of weeds , which is how I like it.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,293
    I had plans to sow wildflower seeds and plant some shrubs but nature got there before me.   Just go ahead and make a bank and see what comes.  Fill in gaps if you need to and then start to manage it or leave well alone depending on what grows.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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