The Q&A Archives: Building A Natural Burm

Question: What is the best way to build a natural burm, approximately 80 feet long x 3 feet high x 8 feet wide?

Answer: I suppose the best way would be to bring in truckloads of soil and dump them in place. You would however, probably be wise to consult a landscape architect or other person with professional training in both design as well as engineering, drainage and grading work before building such a feature -- at the very least such a project would disturb existing surface drainage patterns and this should be accommodated somehow. You might also need to look into local permitting requirements given the massive amount of soil you will be using. In terms of what type of soil to use, the best would be to use soil dug from nearby on your own property so that it is a "good match" to the existing soil. Alternatively, make sure to work with a reputable supplier and to have the soil tested prior to bringing it on site. "Top soil" is not always a defined term and the soil can vary widely in quality and content. Your local County Extension (526-6293) should be able to help you with the testing and may be able to help you locate a source as well. When it comes time to plant, you may need to amend the soil depending on which kinds of plants you are using. The soil tests will help you with this, too.

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