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Berm it: give your garden a lift with a landscaped mound.

It's only a low hill of earth, but a berm can turn a flat, boring lot into a more dynamic three-dimensional landscape. It also elevates plants so that even young trees and shrubs can screen out unwanted views and enhance privacy. Nobody does berms better than Craig Prunty and Mario Navarro at All Oregon Landscaping. They built the simple berm shown here for Eric and Terry Nelson of Beaverton, Oregon, and planted fast-growing incense cedars on it to conceal a large RV parked beyond the fence.


When locating a berm, consider how it will affect drainage patterns. On a slope, water can accumulate on the uphill side of the berm, so don't put one where it will interfere with runoff ("You want a berm, not a dam," says Prunty). On any lot--flat or sloping--a dry creek bed built into a berm can channel water in the right direction.

If you plan to install boulders or large trees, you'll need special equipment to move them. Prunty used a small tractor to place four boulders (about 750 pounds apiece) and a hand truck to move the cedars (balled-and-burlapped specimens 10 to 12 feet tall). In addition to these, a laceleaf Japanese maple, a vine maple, blue oat grass, and other ornamentals cover the berm. This project cost roughly $1,900, including materials and labor.

DESIGN: Mario Navarro and Craig Prunty, All Oregon Landscaping, Sherwood, OR ( or 503/646-6426)


* 8 cubic yards of sandy loam (to cover about 200 square feet)

* 4 boulders

* Washed 4- to 6-in. river rock for dry creek bed



1. Pile soil for the berm, then spread it into a mound about 2 ft. tall. Firm the soil with a manual tamper. Dig out a 6-in.-deep depression in the berm for a dry creek bed.



2. Set boulders on the berm, anchoring their bases about 8 in. deep into the soil. You can lay river rocks for a creek bed at this point, or wait until after planting.

3. Plant the berm, mixing an all-purpose fertilizer (such as a 15-15-15 formula) into the backfill. Cover the soil with a layer of bark chips or other mulch.
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Title Annotation:Step-By-Step
Author:McCausland, Jim
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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