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Wednesday - January 27, 2010

From: Harker Heights (Bell County), TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Vines
Title: Need plants to cover a fence and retaining wall combination
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Recently we replaced our fence and I need help with plants to mask an 18 foot section of fence/retaining wall. The fence guy set the fence back about 10 inches from the top of the retaining wall which is made of railway ties and is 18 feet long by 12 inches high. Our neighbor’s property is higher than ours so his self made retaining wall of treated 4x4s is now exposed on my side of the fence. In between the 4x4s and the railway ties is a narrow strip of soil 4 inches wide. So if you can imagine a 12 inch high retaining wall made of railway ties with 4 inches of soil at the top, then 4x4s treated wood, and then a 6 foot wood fence with metal stakes………too much wood. We get full sun in the afternoon but our house provides natural shade for that section of the yard. Are there any native plants that can be planted that close to the top of the retaining wall?


Mr. Smarty Plants is having some trouble visualizing the situation; eg. how is your neighbor's retaining wall exposed on your side of the fence? Perhaps you could send us a couple of pictures. Go to our Plant Identification page and follow the directions for sending in photos. Refer to question # 5099 in your e-mail.

Since you seem to have a very narrow space for planting and for plant growth, I am going to suggest that you  plant vines which can grow to the top of the fence and then fall back covering the face of the fence.

Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) a popular flowering evergreen, but quite a vigorous climber and extender.

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) high climbing, aggressively colonizing woody vine.

Gelsemium sempervirens (evening trumpetflower)   also known as Carolina Jessamine. Has fragrant blossoms early in the season.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) also known as Coral Honeysuckle. Has attractive red flowers,

Maurandella antirrhiniflora (roving sailor)  a small Texas vine. It can be used as a secondary vine along with Carolina Jasmine or Coral Honeysuckle and allowed to trail down the retaining wall. 

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) inconspicuous flowers, but leaves provide early fall color. Berries are toxic to humans.

Wisteria frutescens (American wisteria) a high-climbing woody, deciduous vine,with flowers  in large, drooping clusters 6–9 inches long. Less aggressive than the Asian species.

Bignonia capreolata

Campsis radicans

Gelsemium sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens

Maurandella antirrhiniflora







Wisteria frutescens

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