Hardscape walls (often referred to as retaining walls) can be a gorgeous and extremely functional addition to your landscape. This often overlooked element can offer convenient, safe and practical solutions for several landscaping issues, and we’re here to give you all the information you need about retaining walls.
What is a Hardscape Wall?
The first question you may be asking is ‘what in the world is a hardscape wall’? A strict definition would be any wall that sustains significant lateral soil pressure. In layman’s terms, retaining walls are hardscape walls used to level an uneven area of your lawn, or create “terraces” on deep slopes. Modern landscape designs use high quality materials and stunning styles that not only eliminate soil issues, but create a focal point for your yard.
What does a Hardscape Wall Do?
Hardscape walls are enlisted to perform many functions. If you have a large slope in your yard, retaining walls can be used to create leveled areas for children to play safely or provide a designated area for a pool or patio. Oftentimes steep slopes provide a dangerous environment for mowing. Hardscape walls will create a grade that can be mowed more easily (and safely).
While servicing the main function of changing the slope of your lawn, retaining walls can create seating for guests or offer unique planting opportunities for a new garden.
How Do You Design a Hardscape Wall?
The reason retaining walls are such a great investment is because they are beautiful AND practical. So when considering a design, what’s more important – form or function? First and foremost, retaining walls should always be viewed as load-bearing structures. While some hardscape walls can be designed to be strictly decorative, most are carefully engineered to serve an important purpose – contain soil.
Now this certainly doesn’t mean that these structures can’t be aesthetically pleasing. Wall landscape design options and types of retaining wall products are virtually unlimited. The type of material used is usually based on not only aesthetic preference, there are structural considerations as well. Absolute Landscape & Turf Services can help you choose the materials and method of construction needed to create functional and decorative retaining walls you will love.
There are many, many things to consider when designing a retaining wall – most of which should only be researched by an experienced and knowledgeable professional. As we mentioned before, a retaining wall is a functional structure first, beautiful design second. A 4’ high, 15’ long wall can hold back almost 20 tons of soil. With that amount of pressure, your wall NEEDS to be built correctly in order to meet all environmental, structural and construction demands.
How Do You Build a Hardscape Wall?
Before the design process is even started there are logistics that need to be determined. Building codes need to be followed and HOA regulations should be researched to avoid any costly mistakes. For many larger structures, building permits may be mandatory.
Specific proportions and equations need to be followed or the wall will fail. These factors are beyond the average homeowners’ scope of expertise, which is why it’s always a good idea to call us. Things like grade differential, the mechanical properties of the soil, presence of ground water and lateral earth pressure must be determined. Drainage and reinforcement needs also have to be considered.
If you have a slope issue in your lawn or would like to find out more information about what a retaining wall could bring to your landscape, click here to set up a free consultation.