We all know that retaining walls serve a very useful purpose. They hold back soil to prevent erosion towards structures, divert water, and increase useful space. Often times they are functional but unattractive. Materials have come a long way over the years. Retaining walls are now being used as focal points and being incorporated into landscaping designs. Now they can be built with beauty as well as function.
There are a wide variety of materials available such as, stacked natural stone, stone veneers, interlocking blocks, concrete, brick and block, or wood. Having many options for materials allows for more attractive walls that fit into any surrounding landscape.
Proper installation is paramount. The leading cause of failure in retaining walls is the lack of proper drainage which can cause saturation and in turn create frost heaves in the colder months. Anything over four feet is not for the weekend backyard warrior. Over four foot walls need to be engineered for safety and structural well being and should be left to the professionals.
Retaining walls are not only being used to hold up hillsides or provide proper drainage they are also being used creatively to enhance your curb appeal and your outdoor living spaces. They can be used to define space, add texture, create seating, or lead the eye down a walk way that begs you to explore what’s beyond. Retaining walls can also be used as garden beds, tree rings, seating in entertaining spaces, and they may even be dressed with lighting.
Depending on your environment, retaining walls can also influence the architecture of your home. You can create a dramatic front entrance by creating a gateway to your property. If you have a more traditional setting, straight lines can add to the formality. Brick can also be used to complement more traditional homes and landscapes. They are labor intensive but strong and durable.
In a more casual atmosphere, such as a wooded backyard, curved lines may help to marry the environment with your outdoor living space. Interlocking blocks work well to create curves for walls up to 4 feet tall.
Whether you are looking to increase functional space, add a pool and an entertaining space to a sloping backyard, create curb appeal, add terracing for garden beds, or hold that hillside up, there are many materials and options available to property owners today.