Landscaping with Berms: Your Complete Guide

landscaping with berms
9 min reading time

Welcome to the ultimate guide on landscaping with berms. If you are looking to elevate your garden design and create visually stunning outdoor spaces, you’ve come to the right place. In this complete guide, we will explore everything you need to know about landscaping with berms, from designing to constructing and maintaining them.

Landscaping with berms is a unique way to transform your outdoor space and create dimension. Berms are mounds of soil that add visual interest and height to your landscape, making them perfect for creating focal points or transitioning between different areas of your garden. They can also serve as a solution for drainage issues and provide a home for plants that require well-draining soil.

In this guide, we’ll cover the purpose and advantages of incorporating berms into your landscape design. You’ll learn the key elements and principles of designing berms, discover the best plant species and combinations to use on berms, and follow a step-by-step guide to constructing and maintaining these landscape features.

Designing Berms: Tips for Creating Dynamic Landscapes

Berms are not just mounds of soil; they’re an art form. Designing berms requires careful consideration of various elements and principles to create a visually appealing and dynamic landscape. To create a berm that stands out, consider the following tips:

Plan Your Design

Before you start designing your berm, create a rough plan. Consider the overall look you want to achieve and decide on your berm’s size, shape, and placement. Additionally, consider the surrounding plants and structures and how they’ll complement your berm. Keep in mind that berms can be used as focal points or transition elements in your landscape design.

Use Multiple Levels

Berms can be constructed as a single mound, but using multiple levels adds dimension and visual interest to your landscape. Create terrace-like levels that step up or down, providing a more dynamic view of your garden. This style is especially effective when used to enhance views from different angles.

Consider Texture and Color

Adding texture and color to your berm can create contrast and visual interest. Consider using different materials such as rocks, stones, and mulch to create texture. Choose plants that complement each other in color, or plant species with contrasting foliage to add depth to your berm.

Plant TypeCharacteristics
BulbsLong-lasting flowers in a variety of colors. Ideal for early spring blooms.
GrassesAdds movement and texture. Low maintenance and drought-tolerant.
GroundcoversEasy to care for and dense growth. Perfect for suppressing weeds and soil erosion.

Balance Proportion and Scale

Berms should be proportionate to the size of your garden and surrounding structures. Consider the scale of the plants you choose and ensure they complement the size of your berm. Balance the height and width of your berm with the surrounding landscape to create a harmonious flow.

Blend with the Surrounding Environment

When designing your berm, consider how it will interact with the surroundings. Berms can be used to add privacy or block unwanted views. They can also be used to accentuate existing structures or complement your home’s architecture. Pay attention to how your berm will blend with the surrounding environment, making it look like an integral part of the garden.

“Designing a berm involves a deep understanding of landscape elements and principles. Consider the design of the surrounding garden, and make sure the berm fits harmoniously with the surrounding environment.” – Landscaping expert

Designing berms is an art that requires careful planning and consideration of various elements. Use these tips to create a dynamic and visually appealing landscape that makes use of berms as key design elements.

Choosing the Right Plants for Berms: Best Species and Combinations

When it comes to landscaping with berms, selecting the right plants is crucial. The plants you choose should thrive in the specific soil and sun conditions of your berm, while also complementing the overall aesthetic of your outdoor space. Here are some of the best species and combinations to consider:

Plant SpeciesBest ForCombinations
Juniperus horizontalisLow-maintenance groundcover on sloped bermsPair with Allium for a pop of color
Salvia nemorosaAttracting pollinators to gentle, sunny moundsCombine with Lavandula angustifolia for a fragrant, purple pairing
Achillea millefoliumFull sun, well-drained and dry slopesContrast with Echinacea purpurea for a bold, colorful statement

If you’re looking for a more naturalistic and low-maintenance approach, consider a mix of native grasses and wildflowers. This combination will provide a range of colors and textures while supporting local ecosystems. Popular North American species include little bluestem, purple coneflower, and wild bergamot.

Remember to consider the mature size of the plants you choose, as well as their growth habits. You don’t want to end up with a crowded or messy-looking berm as your plants mature. With careful planning and selection, you can create a berm that’s not only beautiful but also practical and easy to maintain.

Construction and Maintenance of Berms: Step-by-Step Guide

Landscaping with berms is an effective way to add visual appeal and dimension to your outdoor space. Constructing and maintaining berms can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and knowledge, it can be a rewarding experience. This step-by-step guide will take you through the process of constructing and maintaining berms, ensuring a long-lasting and visually appealing landscape.

Construction of Berms

  1. Site Preparation: Choose the location and clear the area of any grass and weeds. Ensure the area is level before starting the construction process.
  2. Shaping the Berm: Use a shovel or a backhoe to shape the berm according to your design preferences. Make sure to create a gradual slope on the sides for stability.
  3. Adding Soil and Amendments: Fill the area inside the berm with quality soil mixed with amendments such as compost or peat moss to improve soil structure and fertility.
  4. Plant Selection and Placement: Choose plants that are suitable for the berm’s location and provide enough water to ensure proper growth. Place taller plants at the center of the berm and shorter ones on the slopes for a balanced and visually appealing look.

Maintenance of Berms

Maintaining berms requires regular care to preserve their appearance and prevent erosion.

  • Watering: Berms require regular watering to ensure proper plant growth and prevent soil erosion. Water deeply and regularly, especially during dry spells.
  • Fertilizing: Use a slow-release fertilizer suitable for the plants on the berm. Apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid over-fertilization.
  • Weeding: Remove any weeds as soon as possible to prevent them from competing with your plants for nutrients and water.
  • Pruning: Regularly prune your plants to encourage healthy growth and maintain their shape and appearance.
  • Erosion Control: Consider adding a retaining wall or using erosion control materials such as jute netting or mulch to prevent soil erosion and maintain the berm’s shape.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can have a beautiful berm that adds appeal and dimension to your landscape design. Remember to choose suitable plants for your berm’s location, water and fertilize regularly, and maintain a clean appearance by removing weeds and pruning your plants.

Berms in Different Styles of Landscaping: From Formal to Natural

One of the most significant advantages of landscaping with berms is its versatility. Berms can be incorporated into a wide array of landscaping styles, making them suitable for any outdoor space, no matter the design aesthetic. Here are some tips and ideas for using berms in different styles of landscaping:

Formal Landscaping

In formal landscapes, the primary focus is on creating clean, symmetrical lines and a sense of orderliness. Berms can be used to add dimension and texture to an otherwise flat and uniform environment. However, it’s essential to ensure that the berms blend seamlessly with the formal landscape design. Here are some tips to achieve this:

  • Keep the size and shape of the berms consistent with the overall design scheme.
  • Incorporate geometric shapes, like squares or circles, into the berm design.
  • Choose plants with a uniform height and shape to create a cohesive look.

Natural Landscaping

In natural landscapes, the goal is to create an environment that mimics the look and feel of nature. Berms can be used to create a sense of movement and add organic shapes to the overall landscape design. Here are some tips to achieve this:

  • Make the berms look like they were formed naturally by incorporating rocks, boulders or other natural elements.
  • Choose plants with an organic shape, like wildflowers, to create a natural look.
  • Incorporate winding paths or streams into the berm design to create a sense of movement and flow.

Combining Formal and Natural Landscaping

For those who prefer a blend of formal and natural elements in their landscape design, berms can be used to bridge the gap between the two styles. Here are some tips to achieve this:

  • Make the berm design asymmetrical, using natural shapes and curves, but keep the plants within the berm uniform to create a sense of orderliness.
  • Incorporate both natural and formal elements, like geometric shapes or straight lines, into the berm design to create a balance between the two styles.
  • Use a combination of wildflowers and manicured plants to create a look that is both natural and polished.

Ultimately, the key to successful landscaping with berms is to choose a design that complements your personal style and the surrounding environment. By using the tips and ideas provided in this guide, you can create a visually stunning outdoor space that incorporates berms as beautiful and functional design elements.


Landscaping with berms is an exciting and creative way of showcasing the beauty of nature. By incorporating berms into your landscape designs, you can create visually stunning outdoor spaces and add depth, dimension, and texture to your garden.

Now that you have a complete guide to mastering landscaping with berms, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Start by understanding the purpose and advantages of incorporating berms into your landscape design and explore the key elements and principles of designing berms.

Once you have a solid foundation, selecting the right plants, constructing and maintaining your berms, and incorporating them into different styles of landscaping will become easy and effortless.

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