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Flower Bed Against A Brick Wall

Hi there,

I posted this in another forum category, which in hindsight was probably a bit unrelated so I didn't get any replies, so I thought I'd try here.

We have a relatively small and bare garden with just lawn (sloping down at an angle from the house). I'd like to dig a flower bed trench against a boundary wall, so that I can plant climbers up it etc. I've attached photos of the wall.

Is this generally an OK idea? If so, I have some questions:
  • I've read on other forums that growing flowers along a brick wall can be tricky, since the brick can dry out the moisture in the bed. Would I be able to mitigate this, by lining the trench with some lining? I'm unaware of what the size of the 'footing' is.
  • I imagine I wouldn't need to worry about moisture damage to the wall, as I assume it's been 'treated' before the grass and soil went down.
  • What sort of depth should the trench be?
Thanks very much in advance

James
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  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,114

    I can't see any reason why you shouldn't have climbers but, as a word of caution, you'd need to a) consider what root structure will result from the plant(s) you choose, as you don't want to undermine the wall itself, or b) the trench depth will be adequate for, again, your choice of plants as to what they need.  If you feel the need to insert a barrier between soil and wall, which may be a good idea, as long as you always remember it's there so that you don't damage it, a good coat of mastic on the exposed brickwork once the trench is dug, will be the simplest method for £5 or £10 for a tin.

    I'd hang on for some expert opinion which may suggest no trench is necessary.  Just make a hole in the lawn and let the climber spread at will.  Choose a bushy type if you want birds to nest in it?

  • seacrowsseacrows Posts: 211
    Have you tried digging a small exploratory hole? It should show you what the wall footing is, and whether it can take a lack of support from soil in your trench. Also, it looks a bit like a new build, and new builds are notorious for having very little top soil put back. You might find you have a couple of inches, then it's rubble all the way down.

    I'd probably go with an open bottomed wooden box. It gives you some good soil to plant in, and can be painted any colour for extra interest.
  • Thanks both for your advice.
    If you feel the need to insert a barrier between soil and wall, which may be a good idea
    Yeah, I'm thinking of putting a couple of rows of bricks between the two. That also might help in terms of avoiding the wall footing.
    Also, it looks a bit like a new build, and new builds are notorious for having very little top soil put back
    I'd be happy to purchase top soil to fill in the trench, so as to replace all the rubble that's inevitably under there.
    I'd probably go with an open bottomed wooden box. It gives you some good soil to plant in, and can be painted any colour for extra interest.

    My idea with digging a flower bed, was so that it looks more 'integrated' than having a pot or similar sitting above soil level.

  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,907
    You can dig a trench edge, to give a neat line.. then pile up top soil in the location higher than the surrounding soil.  With the trench line, it still looks nice and tidy, and visually it won't look like it's that much higher.. even if there is six inches difference.  Climbers can be planted at a diagonal and tied to a cane to lead them up to whatever wall attachments you create to help them climb.  That way the roots are further from the footing and rain shadow.  
    Utah, USA.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,674
    There's no need to damp proof the wall at all as long as it doesn't form part of another building. Just dig a hole as the others say, about 0.75 m away from the wall so you can see what the soil is like underneath. If it's okay (which will be surprising!), just strip off the turf (but save this in a heap, upside down, as it makes good topsoil when completely rotted) and dig over your new border which needs to be at least a metre wide if possible. Get some bags of manure and dig this in as well, wait a couple of weeks to let the soil settle then plant it up. If you want climbers, then screw vine eyes into the brick and wires between them to enable you to tie in the climbers as they grow. 
  • jameshopkins0709jameshopkins0709 Posts: 38
    edited June 2020
    ...dig over your new border which needs to be at least a metre wide if possible

    To clarify, are you referring to the depth of the bed (from the wall outwards towards the grass) or the width (the length along the wall)?

    Thanks for everyone's help!

  • I've started the digging! I'm quite excited! Seems as though the footing depth is 20cm but I don't think I need to dig any deeper than that
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,674
    edited June 2020
    @jameshopkins0709, sorry James, I meant the depth of the bed from the wall outwards to meet the lawn. If you want a good looking border with perennials, shrubs or roses, then a metre is the minimum width, more is better if you have the room. If you haven't, then the minimum would be 0.75 metre. You need this depth so you can plant at least 30/40 cms  away from the wall, which gives the plants the best chance of growing well.

    The wall and its footings sucks up a lot of moisture so the plants suffer if planted too close.
  • jameshopkins0709jameshopkins0709 Posts: 38
    edited June 2020
    The wall and its footings sucks up a lot of moisture so the plants suffer if planted too close

    @Lizzie27 thanks for the advice. It'll need to be as near as 0.75m as possible given that my garden is really quite small.

    To mitigate the issue of the dryness, could I maybe line the beds with some porous membrane, or wouldnt that work?

    On a separate subject, the soil seems surprisingly rubble free. Since I want to do this work properly, is it better that I discard it and import some topsoil, or will some manure mixed in with it be enough?

    Thanks again for the advice

    James

  • Digging and edging going well 👍 Not coming up against footing at a depth of around 25cm.

    Getting in some quality top soil to fill it. I'm wondering whether there's any benefit in lining the beds with a porous membrane before putting down the soil, with the aim of mitigating potential moisture absorption by the wall?

    Excited about all the plants I can plant!
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