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Berms are useful in landscaping

Egg candling

Posted: April 27, 2013 - 11:08pm

Berms, or raised beds, can be used to add visual interest to flat or dull areas in the landscape. Berms are simply mounded hills of soil that are constructed to serve a purpose in a landscaped area. They can be used for aesthetics, excess rainwater drainage, separating different areas of the garden, accent walkways, and as foundations for privacy screens.

The height and width of a berm depends on the purpose and the size of the surrounding landscape. In a typical residential lot, a berm with a height of 1 to 3 feet and a length of 10 to 20 feet is the norm. Berms should be constructed with gradually sloping sides that disappear naturally into the surrounding landscape.

Many gardeners will use berms as a way to separate more formal garden areas from other parts of the landscape.

Berms are often used toward the outside perimeter of the landscape to separate the lawn from the surrounding woodland areas. The raised areas also provide an elevated area to more easily view and appreciate ornamental plantings.

Raised flower beds can be a great way to make any showy blooming shrub really stand out. Berms can also be used to break up larger areas of turf.

Even small changes in elevation can be pleasing to the eye. Small, elevated beds can be used to frame landscape features such as walkways and driveways. Using berms to flank walkways can help create a feeling that these passageways were “carved” into the landscape. Be sure to keep walkway berms simple and don’t overplant. Select two to three colors that complement each other.

Berms can also serve a functional role. Installing berms in low-lying areas is a good way to prevent water from pooling. Drainage problems that occur on flat lots can often be corrected by adding berms.

They are also more attractive than French drains or surface drains. Additionally, berms are also cheaper to install. Another advantage of berms is that they allow the creation of an optimal soil. Planting on a berm full of topsoil can be more productive than the hard clay soils that are prevalent in the Augusta area.

Berms can be used in combination with screening plants to create a barrier between neighboring houses. Many neighborhoods in the Columbia County area have codes that regulate the use of fences. Planting screens may be the only option for people in this situation. A 3-foot berm planted with evergreen shrubs can make a great privacy barrier.

Construction materials for a berm depend on its size and purpose. Most berms are created by using triple-screened topsoil. The topsoil will support the roots of plants and also provide a well-drained soil. Of course, berms planted with annual flowers will require less topsoil than those supporting shrubs and trees. Be sure to incorporate a premium planting mix, no more than a third by volume, into the topsoil where annuals will be planted.

Always remember the soil sample. Even in a berm, the importance of the soil sample cannot be overlooked. Soil samples are required to ensure proper pH and fertilization requirements. This will guarantee the health and vigor of the shrubs planted and will showcase the accomplishment of creating the berm.

Egg candling

The Georgia Department of Agriculture will present an egg candling Wednesday, May 1, at the Columbia County Extension office, 6420 Pollards Pond Road, Appling. Participants need to sign up for a two-hour block of time starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m., with each block limited to 12 people. Call (770) 535-5955 and ask for Bradley or Deborah to sign up.

Tripp Williams, Columbia County’s agriculture and natural resource extension agent, can be reached at (706) 541-4011, or trippj@uga.edu.

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