Botanica Atlanta | Landscape Design, Construction & Maintenance


Atlanta Garden Design

On Serpentine Garden Walls

Posted by Stuart DiNenno on May 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Even a speck of common sense tells us that the shortest way to get from one point to another always takes the path of a straight line. Following a meandering road that zigs left and zags right is surely less efficient than taking a direct route. We hold these truths to be self-evident.


Images: Goat Mountain and S. Cholewiak


When you encounter a serpentine brick garden wall – also called a “crinkle-crankle” or “ribbon” wall – it is natural to extend this same logic and deduce that the winding curves are as equally inefficient as a meandering path. You may also observe that, despite this apparent structural inefficiency, a curving wall has several aesthetic advantages to a straight brick wall. The wave-like form provides visual interest, lends a soft edge to an outdoor room, and creates a rhythm of pockets that can be used for ornamental planting and sculpture.


However, when you carefully study them, you might realize that these walls are deceptive structures. Contrary to its inefficient appearance, a serpentine wall actually requires fewer bricks than a typical garden wall to withstand toppling. Due to the indirect footprint they follow, serpentine walls are in fact longer, but because they can be built to a thickness of only a single brick they are ultimately more economical. The looping, playful footprint actually serves to reinforce the structure and keep it from tipping.



Engraving by Peter Maverick (1825) from Thomas Jefferson’s plan

Years after he authored the Declaration of Independence, and served as our country’s first Secretary of State, second Vice-President, and third President, Thomas Jefferson incorporated serpentine walls as a dominant feature of his design for the University of Virginia. His historic nineteenth-century plan for the campus indicates rows of buildings fronting onto a rectangular quad, and each of the building’s rear yards is enclosed with garden walls. If you look closely at the plan you can discern the squiggling lines that represent these serpentine walls.

Images: S. Cholewiak and UGArdener

Though the aesthetic of this type of wall is not appropriate in all landscapes, I find that the undulating edge condition created by a serpentine wall can complement some garden spaces much more nicely than the straight lines of a typical wall. A few states south of Jefferson’s garden walls, a beautiful example of serpentine walls can be seen at the University of Georgia’s Founders Garden, which is named for the twelve founders of the Ladies’ Garden Club of Athens, the first garden club in the United States. Only a few steps from the classrooms and studios of the country’s largest landscape architecture program, two vine-covered garden walls snake their way through lush planting beds and lend soft edges to the formal lawn space.

Meandering roads are never the shortest, but they often provide a more pleasant, scenic experience. In the case of the serpentine wall, gardeners can discover a tool that is historic, economical, and offers great aesthetic potential.

Image: Goat Mountain

Author: Sam Valentine, BLA, LEED AP

Categories: Landscape Design, Gardening, Landscape Construction

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In


Reply WayneSadia
1:20 PM on September 20, 2021 
cialis 5 mg price class one drug classification grapefruit seed extract dosage how to order cialis compare cialis viagra and levitra rx pharmacy viagra
Reply Scottjab
4:10 PM on September 22, 2021 
will viagra help women passport pictures locations viagra online canadian pharmacy cialis viagra equivalent dose medical prescription sample
Reply Craigaloky
9:40 PM on September 24, 2021 
how to enhance viagra effects how do you take sildenafil medications that cause impotence where can i buy cialis online sildenafil 20 mg for women viagra good for your health
Reply Juliusgob
4:55 PM on September 25, 2021 
goodrx coupons cialis official site free big mac meal coupon viagra online generic prescription plans without health insurance sildenafil viagra cost at walmart pfizer patient assistance program group a
Reply Bernardlat
3:08 PM on September 26, 2021 
viagra super force 100mg 100mg zytenz at walgreens effects of cialis and marijuana canadian viagra prescription walmart viagra prices without insurance gnc male enhancement product reviews most powerful drug
Reply Samuelgap
12:11 PM on September 27, 2021 
prescriptions from canada without what does viagra cost viagra 100 buy online viagra with prescription what is red pill theory
Reply MichaelUnopy
8:59 PM on October 1, 2021 
how to maximize viagra effects viagra for women pink buy generic cialis online walgreens viagra substitute top generic viagra sites brand name cialis
Reply Larrycrick
8:37 AM on October 3, 2021 
how long is sildenafil effective sildenafil cost walmart viagra generic in december 2017 buy generic viagra online fda approval dates for drugs 100 mg viagra street cost gnc ed medicine
Reply Keithsaf
8:32 AM on October 6, 2021 
cute pink pictures is viagra available over counter women viagra online no prescription sildenafil prescription assistance caremark pharmacy network list
Reply Joshuanig
6:49 AM on October 9, 2021 
viagra with heart condition viagra and heart medications herbs for men's libido cialis 2 mg herbal remedy for female libido gnc female libido booster what male enhancement works
Reply Jorgeskymn
3:38 AM on October 11, 2021 
pfizer patient assistance pink singer pictures body does size matter chart where can i buy over the counter sildenafil free product samples for professionals sildenafil prices kroger pharmacy drug price list
Reply Zacharycaw
2:14 AM on October 13, 2021 
tadalafil 60 mg dosage viagra vs generic viagra comparison can you buy viagra over the counter in argentina drug interactions with sildenafil remedies for libido adhd medications online to order
Reply Billyancek
10:47 PM on October 13, 2021 
how to address more than one person coupon lady printable coupons walgreens male enhancement products best online viagra without a prescription how to talk to doctor about ed ed cures for men over 60
Reply DarrenSal
1:27 AM on October 16, 2021 
viagra 50 mg cost black bull male enhancement pills best libido pills tadalafil goodrx grapefruit benefits and side effects cialis medicare part d viagra super active 100mg
Reply Joshuabrify
1:56 AM on October 19, 2021 
cheap vigora 100 eating before taking viagra where to buy sildenafil can viagra cause heart attack side effects of sildenafil tablets
Reply Jameszvva
4:16 AM on October 21, 2021 
10 mg tadalafil generic does female viagra work female pink viagra 100mg pills viagra online pharmacy cialis and levitra gnc protein shakes for women who should not take viagra
Reply Jamessyvc
6:06 AM on October 30, 2021 
metformin actions in the body how long for sildenafil to take effect cialis trial offer coupon generic viagra online canadian pharmacy free food coupons for walmart side effects viagra and alcohol
Reply Jameswgkn
12:47 PM on November 1, 2021 
beet juice as viagra viagra 100mg pills for men online viagra is viagra safe with high blood pressure how effective is cialis for bph free samples for doctors office
Reply Josephemach
2:01 AM on November 5, 2021 
surgical mesh lawsuit payouts vietnamese viagra viagra for sale without prescription the little red pill for men ed pills that work fast
Reply Philipzomma
5:12 PM on November 8, 2021 
bydureon side effects prescription without a doctor's prescription women take viagra how many sildenafil 20mg can i take cellulitis