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What is a landscape berm?

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Landscaping berms are simply mounds of earth.  Just as sand dunes at the beach provide interest and height to a flat beach scene, a landscape berm provides a focal point that draws the eye upward and provides visual interest in a flat yard or lawn.  Landscape berms are often the centerpiece of a lawn.   A berm can be a base for a “living wall” of gorgeous plants that offer different colors, textures, and heights.

Berms can resolve a variety of problems for homeowners as well as being a focal point in a yard.  Berms can provide privacy, reduce traffic noise from a busy highway, block unwanted lights from traffic or businesses, or solve drainage problems.  Berms can act as barriers to keep children and pets away from obstacles such as storm drains or ponds. Berms can divide a yard so that vegetable gardens, compost piles, and tool sheds are hidden from view.

Berms can be simple grassy hills, or they can be planted with an assortment of plants to provide a feast for the eyes.  Often a small tree (or even several trees) is the focal point in a berm, with different plants of varying heights around the berm.  A low growing plant can be the ground cover, or mulch, straw, or even rocks and pebbles can cover the soil of the berm.  An edging of some sort can keep the mound of soil from eroding down the slope into the yard.

A well designed berm looks like a natural element instead of a man-made one.  Natural elements are much more pleasing to look at than, say, a neighbor’s house or a highway. As noise barriers, berms excel!  Traffic noise can be reduced by as much as 50% if the berm is high enough and covered with trees, shrubs, and grasses.  Berms up to six feet in height can be built for noise barriers.

Generally, berms have a pleasing, curving shape and are not more than a foot or two tall.  The plants that are added will increase the height of the focal point without totally blocking the view as a solid fence or brick or stone wall would.

Places like theme parks use berms to block views of parking lots, service areas, and highways and to maintain the image of their chosen theme. Palm trees and tropical plants can give visitors the illusion that they are in a rainforest or on a Caribbean island.  Berms are visual barriers that guide tourists from one area to another while providing pleasing scenery for people to enjoy and keeping the outside world from intruding on the fantasy.  A well-planned berm can provide years of enjoyment.

Cindy Grigg · answered over a year ago
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Landscape berm construction is easy and done for a variety of reasons. A landscape berm can be used for adding interest and height to a specific area. By using mounded soil, dull, flat areas can be given dimension. Berms can also be used for blocking out unwanted views, redirecting drainage, creating privacy, or emphasizing a focal point. An earth berm is made up of mounded soil; however, many landscape berms often include some type of fill as well. Suitable sources of fill include rubble, asphalt, plant debris, or sand. While there are no specific rules regarding landscape berm design, a typical berm stands no higher than 1 ½ to 2 feet (46 to 61 cm) tall. It is also, on average, about four times as long as it is high. Landscape berms oftentimes take on a curved or crescent shape as well. Just as with garden beds, proper planning beforehand is essential. The design is usually accomplished much the same too. When creating a landscape berm, its shape should be outlined using flour, ... more
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Landscape berm construction is easy and done for a variety of reasons. A landscape berm can be used for adding interest and height to a specific area. By using mounded soil, dull, flat areas can be given dimension. Berms can also be used for blocking out unwanted views, redirecting drainage, creating privacy, or emphasizing a focal point. An earth berm is made up of mounded soil; however, many landscape berms often include some type of fill as well. Suitable sources of fill include rubble, asphalt, plant debris, or sand. While there are no specific rules regarding landscape berm design, a typical berm stands no higher than 1 ½ to 2 feet (46 to 61 cm) tall. It is also, on average, about four times as long as it is high. Landscape berms oftentimes take on a curved or crescent shape as well. more
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