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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - September 15, 2012

From: Bethesda, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Lists, Vines
Title: Plant to trail down concrete block retaining wall in Maryland
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, Your website is an excellent resource. Thank you very much! My girlfriend recently bought a house that has a concrete block retaining wall in the front yard. We want to improve the appearance of this wall but we don't want to invest in a masonry facade. I can tell the retaining wall was not professionally installed and I have questions about it's durability. The wall holds back a substantial amount of soil. At the top of the wall are excellent Azaleas and a patch of grass. At the bottom is the poured concrete driveway. When I saw your site I realized that a plant native to Maryland that would droop over the side of the wall and grow down towards the driveway would be the ideal low cost visual improvement. We don't want a climber for this location because we are afraid a climber would climb up the Azaleas. Do you have any recommendations for a plant we could place at the top of the wall that would grow over the side of the wall and droop down the side? Thank you very much for your help!!

ANSWER:

First of all, thank you very much for the compliment!

Here are several vines/trailing plants that should work for your wall.  For the ones that are designated as vines you will need to be vigilant in keeping them from climbing up the azaleas.   You may want to construct a string trellis to "train" them to trail down the wall.

Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) is an evergreen vine, but will trail across the ground.  Here is more information from Floridata.

Phlox subulata (Creeping phlox) will trail over the wall for a short distance.   It is a great groundcover.  Here is more information from Views from the Garden.

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper).   Be sure to read the warnings about its invasiveness.  If you train it to trail over the wall, it should be an excellent cover.   Check its tendency to climb up the azalea plants.  It can be trained to trail down the wall.  Here is more information from Linders.

 Clematis virginiana (Devil's darning needles).  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper).  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coral honeysuckle
Lonicera sempervirens

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

Devil's darning needles
Clematis virginiana

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

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