Retaining walls are both beautiful and functional, and can be an important component of your outdoor space. While their main function is to prevent the erosion of soil, they can also add charm and splendor to an otherwise plain yard. A distinct advantage of retaining walls is their style variety. They can be designed in an endless array of styles, from gentle curves, to elegant fortress-like structures.
One of the main purposes of building a retaining wall is to prevent erosion. Over time, age, weather, and improper drainage systems can cause soil to erode. If your property is steep, or has uneven areas, soil can easily slide from its intended position. The more soil is exposed, the more damage is triggered by fast moving water. This can cause:
Retaining walls prevent erosion from occurring by shortening a long slope into a series of more level steps. This protects the soil from running water by, allowing moisture to soak into the surface, rather than pulling soil with it during run off.
A deeply sloped yard can be a major headache for homeowners. Issues such as: pooling water, difficulty mowing, and inability to use as a ‘family friendly’ space can create long-term problems. Tiers are the perfect solution to tackle drainage problems, and provide level, usable spaces. Tiers (or terraces) are level spaces cut into sloping yards. Spacing between tiers is determined by the degree of slope. Levels are graded to have an imperceptible incline to further assist with drainage. Height and space of tiers depends on the slope incline, and what you intend to use the space for.
Related: Creating your Dream Backyard
A solid retaining wall will keep the soil in place, as well as any structures that depend on ground stability. Many times, homes are built on hills and require a retaining wall to retain its structural integrity. If your retaining wall fails, then the soil beneath your home will erode, causing your home to lean or falter. This can cause unwanted cracks in your foundation. Piers can be added to correct this issue; however, they are extremely expensive and time consuming. A better option, is to properly maintain your retaining wall, and repair or replace it as soon as it shows signs of wear.
Very often, steep or sloped yards provide little, actual livable yard space. This can be frustrating for homeowners who like to spend time outdoors. Retaining walls are the best solution to break your sloped yard into tiers and allow your yard to be more user-friendly. Layering your yard requires a well thought out design that will not only make the slope usable, but also give a beautiful aesthetic. Even steeply sloped yards can be leveled into several tiers, with a walkway to each.
Retaining walls also provide the perfect surround for flowerbeds, and shape to landscaped areas. Most flowerbeds need to be edged in some fashion, and brick, stones or blocks are a stunning way to accomplish this. Border walls keeps the mulch and soil in place, as well as allowing retention of moisture around plants. Short walls are perfect around your homes perimeter, while taller walls can work for your steeper terrain. This not only helps with erosion, but allows you to have flowerbeds in challenging areas. Beds can also be built on top of larger, functional retaining walls.
Your choice of materials directly determines the ability of a retaining wall to bear weight. It must be strong enough to provide long-term support for soil or structures, as well as allow for adequate drainage. Materials used for constructing residential retaining walls are generally decorative and designed for function and appeal. Typical materials used are:
Your choice of materials should depend on your climate, and intended use. Our outdoor experts will be happy to discuss the pros and cons of each material, with you.
If you currently have retaining walls and have noticed crumbling, cracking, buckling or leaning – it is time to address the issue. Retaining walls are supposed to last many years, but several unfortunate factors can take its toll on your wall, such as:
Our home improvement experts will examine and assess your current wall’s capabilities. If they feel that it has a continued lifespan, then instead of a full replacement, repairs can be made. Sometimes, if certain parts of the wall have deteriorated, then that specific section can be replaced. Other times, specific boards can be replaced. The ability to return the wall to its original position and maintain structural integrity is crucial. If the wall cannot fulfill its main function, then it may need to be replaced.