Best Plants For Berms And Swales

When it comes to landscaping, capturing rainwater runoff and directing it towards plants is an eco-friendly way of reducing the amount of rainfall that goes directly into the sewer system. This can be accomplished by using berms and swales – two landscaping features that are often incorporated into the design of residential yards. Both are ideal for controlling water flow, providing erosion control and creating a gorgeous aesthetic in your yard. If you’re interested in incorporating berms or swales into your yard, read on to learn more about choosing the right plants for your new landscaping feature:


Trees are one of the most effective plants for berms and swales. Trees help prevent erosion by holding soil in place with their roots, they provide shade which helps keep the soil cool, they provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife, and they can also reduce flooding by absorbing excess rainwater.

Trees can also help reduce pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and converting it into oxygen (O2).


There are many shrub varieties that can be used to create a buffer around your berms and swales. Shrubs provide a thick layer of protection for the plants and animals that depend on them, and they can also help prevent soil erosion with their extensive root systems. The following are some examples of shrubs that you may want to consider planting along your berms and swales:

  • **Witch hazel**: This plant is well-suited for berm and swale plantings because it will thrive in moist soils. It grows up to 6 feet tall, with dark green leaves; red fall color; white flowers in spring; black fruit capsules which contain small seeds that are dispersed by birds while they feed on the fruit capsule pulp.
  • **Honeysuckle**: Honeysuckle has purple foliage during the summer months but turns burgundy red when autumn arrives. This vine produces fragrant flowers from midsummer until frost settles in late autumn or early winter depending on location (in warmer climates).
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Perennials are plants that come back year after year. They’re a great choice for berms and swales: they can be planted once and left alone, since they don’t need any additional water or care. That makes them the perfect choice for gardeners who want to avoid a lot of maintenance work when it comes to their yard.

Perennials also tend to be low-maintenance—they grow slowly over time as opposed to needing frequent pruning or other types of attention—and many perennial varieties are drought tolerant, which means you don’t have to worry about watering them very often.

Native Grasses

Native grasses are beautiful, drought-resistant, and help to prevent erosion. They can also attract pollinators and require less maintenance than non-native species.

However, there are some disadvantages to using native grasses for berm and swale planting. For example, they do not grow as tall or thick as other turfgrass species (e.g., Kentucky bluegrass), so it may be difficult to see the berm from a distance if it’s planted with native grasses instead of ornamental plants like trees or shrubs.

Ground Covers and Vines

Ground covers are plants that spread quickly, so they’re perfect for covering up bare soil and preventing erosion. They also help prevent weeds from growing and soil compaction from occurring by providing a healthy layer of mulch, which can be especially useful when working with heavy machinery in areas with frequent traffic flow.

There are many different types of ground covers available, including fast-spreading plants such as creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum), creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis “Prostratus”), creeping sedum (“Sedum spurium” “Dragon’s Blood” or “Coral Reef”) and vinca vine (Vinca minor).

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Plant a rainbow of color in your berm and swale.

  • Use a variety of plants to add color to the berm.
  • Use native plants that are hardy and can survive in your climate, especially if you are planting on a slope (slopes will get more sun than flat ground).
  • Consider using drought-tolerant species when selecting plants for berms and swales, since they require less water than other lawn species and may help reduce runoff during heavy rains or storms by absorbing water into their roots before it flows into storm drains or pollutes bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and oceans.

We hope this article has given you some insight into how to use these natural features for your home garden. The key is to remember that every landscape design is different, and the plants you choose will depend on your specific situation. However, if things get overwhelming, try starting by asking yourself what kind of plants would be most appropriate based on things like sunlight exposure and soil type. From there, finding out more about berm plant options should be easy!

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