Brick walls add texture and interest to a garden, providing leafy plants an excellent backdrop and protection from the elements. However, gardening against a brick wall also presents challenges. If you are ready to try a brick wall garden, go for it. But it pays to learn about the joys and issues with landscaping against brick walls before you begin.
Landscaping Against Brick Walls
A brick wall in a garden has a distinct appeal. The structure adds a rough stone texture and a color element that a wooden wall doesn’t have, and makes nearby plants stand out. But brick walls are foundational elements of a home or landscape. The soil near them can be compacted and contain clay, sand, and filler that do not help plants thrive. This makes landscaping against brick walls a challenge.
Before you start gardening against a brick wall, you’ll need to check out the soil. Take samples and determine the acidity level, nutritional content, and composition of the soil. Remember that many ornamental plants will not be able to thrive in compacted or clay soil.
A challenge when you plant around brick-house foundations is that stone or cement can leach limestone and calcium into the surrounding soil, raising the soil pH. The pH test results can make a big difference in your decision about what to plant near brick.
Plants for Brick Homes
So your first task in choosing plants for brick homes is eliminating those that prefer a low soil pH. Acid-loving garden plants include garden favorites like:
After that, make a list of what to plant near brick. Since brick holds heat and warms the soil near it, you’ll want to select plants for brick homes that are heat tolerant. Heat tends to dry out the soil quickly, too. When you are selecting what to plant near brick, opt for drought-tolerant shrubs and be sure to irrigate and mulch, as well.
Consider color, too. Bricks are not all brick-red, but can come in many hues and tones. Select plants that are attractive and dramatic against the wall shade.
Brick Wall Garden Options
If you find it too difficult to prepare the soil near a brick wall for plants, you still have a few options. For example, container plants can look great lined against the brick. Select large pots with colors that work well against the brick.
Another option is to create a wall garden. These are wooden crates or similar structures filled with soil. You position them against the wall and fill the soil with plants. Angle the plants so that they will be secure when the “garden” is hung on the wall.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.