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5 Things to Consider When Designing a Retaining Wall

When it comes to retaining walls, you no longer have to choose between function and aesthetics. The purpose of a retaining wall is to hold back soil where there is a steep change in a property’s elevation, and erosion is a concern. But with the variety of methods and materials available, retaining walls can stylishly maximize usable space in your yard and control erosion while they’re at it. Once you know the basics, you can customize a wall that meets your needs, and increases the value of your property! Here are some things to consider when designing a retaining wall…


1.   Material matters

Consider your purpose for the retaining wall, along with your style and budget, when deciding the best material to use.

  • Available in a wide variety of attractive shapes and colors, stone walls complement any style of yard, and are a popular solution to elevation changes.
  • Although special drainage accommodations must be considered, brick walls are strong, durable and & a solid choice for traditional homes and landscapes.
  • Timber walls are ideal for rustic-style homes and blend naturally into a landscape.
  • Once regarded as cold and industrial-looking, concrete walls now boast a wide variety of shapes, styles and color options. Designed for strength, concrete can blend well with your yard, garden and home’s exterior.


2.   Consider codes

Retaining walls need to be built on a good base that is dug out below ground level. The taller the wall is, the deeper the base needs to be dug. In many areas, codes mandate that retaining walls taller than four feet must be designed by a qualified engineer and built by a professional. In some jurisdictions, fencing is required above walls reaching three or four feet. Before construction, it is essential that you be familiar with and follow local building codes, even for shorter walls. 


3.   Install drains

Efficient drainage is necessary for preventing water and soil from penetrating the structure of the retaining wall. A retaining wall with little or no drainage is a wall that is not structurally sound!


4.   Enhance the style

More than a structure that holds back soil, a retaining wall can be used to transform your outdoor living area. Shorter retaining walls bring texture to a flat landscape, and make appealing flower beds. Get creative by adding a seating wall around your patio, or bench seating built right into your retaining wall. Lend some excitement to your landscape by adding a curve to the wall!


5.   Add finishing touches

Show off the charming side of your retaining wall by incorporating an outdoor fire pit or water feature into the design. Consider creating steps to access the area above the wall, and expand the outdoor living space. Add landscape lighting in your retaining wall to provide contrast and ambiance, and install wall caps to complete the look.


Whether you want to terrace a flower bed or prevent erosion, it is important to know the codes and materials necessary for your retaining wall. Our experts can help you design and install a wall that is structurally sound and sturdy without compromising your style, just contact us here! With a little preparation and research, you’ll enjoy a valuable landscape improvement to your property for years to come!