3 Ways To Liven Up A Boring Retaining Wall

Necessary for holding back earth, retaining walls can be built of stone, brick, or other sturdy material. If you want to soften the look of a retaining wall or you dislike its austere appearance, consider planting some trailing flowers or vines on top. Once established, the plants will grow atop the wall and cascade beautifully down the side. Here are a few ideas to get you started:


There are many types of petunias, but the type most suited for a retaining wall is the Spreading, or Wave petunia.  They usually reach 2 to 4 feet in length by the end of their growing season, which lasts from early spring until frost. Each flower is around 2 inches across, and tolerates heat and drought well. Even better, they do not need deadheading.

The largest Wave petunia, the Tidal Wave, is capable of growing up to 5 feet in length.  Choose colors such as hot pink or purple to create a giant splash of color. If you're more interested in double flowering petunias, try Double Wave, which has several shades of pink and cool white.

Creeping Herbs

If fragrant plants are more your style, try a variety of creeping herbs. Not only do herbs provide flowers in the spring, they attract bees, smell delicious, and may even inspire you to get cooking.

Trailing rosemary thrives in hot, dry conditions, and only need occasional watering once established. Huntington Carpet rosemary quickly reaches 2 feet in height and up to 8 feet in width. Its dainty flowers are deep blue, and the entire plant is deer resistant.

Creeping thyme is slightly shorter in length than rosemary, usually 3–6 inches high, but make up for their stature in color and scent. However, thyme still creeps along and fills in up to 18 inches of horizontal space, often falling over the edge of your wall. Thyme is also deer resistant.  Look for some of these varieties and their unique characteristics:

  • Creeping lemon exudes a lemon scent when crushed
  • Spicy orange tastes and smell citrusy, and has bluish-green leaves
  • Woolly thyme has beautifully soft, silver foliage
  • Caraway thyme displays pink flowers and can be used as a caraway substitute in cooking

Creeping Phlox

If you live in a colder climate and look forward to spring flowers with eagerness, creeping phlox will never let you down. One of the first spring perennials to bloom, this phlox is covered in solid red, pink, purple, or white starry five-pointed flowers. Soft mounds reach 6 inches in height, but spread to two feet in diameter.

Over time, stems become woody with age and should be pruned to encourage more flowers. Better yet, plant those cuttings in other areas of the retaining walls for even more plants next season. Creeping phlox are easy to grow and simply need regular watering in either sun or part shade.

For more information on retaining walls, talk to a professional like Rock Solid Services LLC.