What is a retaining wall? A retaining wall is used in landscaping to hold or “retain” dirt or soil. Retaining walls can be made of many different kinds of materials, all with their own pros and cons of use. The different materials and ways of building retaining walls all contribute to different landscape and garden design aesthetics.
Retaining walls can be simply practical to solve landscape issues, or they can be multi-purpose. The main uses of a retaining wall are to fix grading and slope issues, add usable land, and add structural stability to surrounding landscape features. Most retaining walls are multi-purpose and depending on your existing or future landscape design plan, can be beautiful and functional additions to your space.
A professional landscape designer can help bring to life many of your retaining wall ideas as well as give advice on the best materials for each of their uses. Whether you are building a pool retaining wall or researching garden wall ideas, contact a retaining wall contractor to discuss complex to simple retaining wall ideas.
Most retaining walls can be categorized into two main subsets: gravity retaining walls and reinforced retaining walls. Gravity retaining walls depend on the materials it is built of to provide the support necessary to retain the soil. Reinforced retaining walls use additional materials like netting or wire fencing in addition to the wall’s main structural material to provide extra support.
It’s important to ask yourself the following questions when building deciding between retainer wall ideas.
Or, more simply, what is the wall itself retaining? Is it a driveway? A pool? Or does it require less support, and is there a tree or yard above the wall? Determining how much weight and what material the wall needs to retain is your first step.
Will the retaining wall be met with a steep incline, like at the bottom of a hill meeting a sidewalk? Or will there be a flat surface, like a patio above the retaining wall? This may be difficult for you to picture when starting from scratch, so consulting a professional will help you save time and get it right the first time around.
Figuring out the height necessary for the retaining wall can be as simple as how high your materials are for a natural highlighting retainer wall or as difficult as measuring the weight of a gazebo or pool.
Concrete blocks are one of the simplest ways to build a retaining wall. Many DIY enthusiasts choose this option for its simplicity and ease of construction. Concrete blocks are fairly easy to lift and maneuver, making this a doable one-person job. Retaining wall blocks provide decently strong structural security, especially when building a shorter, longer retainer wall.
A concrete retaining wall is a simple idea that is useful in preventing erosion. A poured concrete raining wall is best used in drier climates, as it provides less natural drainage. A concrete retaining wall adds to a modern design with its smooth lines and consistent texture. Pool retaining walls are often made of poured concrete, as concrete is strong enough to hold the pressure of the water volume within.
Keeping it simple when deciding between retaining wall ideas is one sure way to maintain a contemporary and formal look. Minimalism aesthetic is enhanced by painted concrete, and concrete retaining walls can even provide seating options that blend seamlessly into retaining walls and walkways.
When deciding how to build a retaining wall, price is usually high on the list of considerations. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where gathering natural stones and boulders is an accessible option, you can DIY a natural, strong, yet very cheap retaining wall. Mixing colors, sizes, and types of stones are one of the key ways to add complexity to your landscape design.
Maintain balance by including these stones in other areas of your outdoor space, whether they are highlighting trees or shrubbery or used in the creation of a water feature. However, it is important to make sure you have plenty of help and the right tools when choosing this retaining wall idea. Avoid injury and expensive mistakes by reaching out to a professional.
Railroad tie retaining walls are a common and inexpensive retaining wall idea that is popular in many climates. This adds to the natural landscape and mimics the trendy industrial design with the incorporation of metal.
Building a retaining wall can highlight your existing features as well as define the different uses of your outdoor space. From defining walkways to building living garden walls, here are some of the most creative retaining wall ideas to enhance your landscape.
Add usable land to your sloping lawn with a railroad tie retaining wall. This option is great for those who are looking for an eco-friendly retaining wall idea made of recycled materials. Build deep or shallow levels of retaining walls based on whether you will use the space for flowers, shrubs, or additional seating. Building deeper levels can provide additional patio space, which can be defined and structurally supported by a retainer wall. Add a bench or two and enjoy birdwatching or simply take in the natural beauty surrounding you.
Outline and define walkways, sidewalks, and driveways with any of these retaining wall ideas. A simple brick structure a few feet high adds instant clarity to non-paved walking areas. Many homeowners use a stone retaining wall or wood retainer wall to build stairwells into sloping lawns, adding accessibility to otherwise rolling landscapes. Loose gravel driveways and walkways beg for a retaining wall to prevent the spread of small rocks into the lawn.
Highlight your favorite trees by encircling them with retaining wall blocks. Incorporating lighting into landscape designs like these can provide a polished look with little to no maintenance needed. Choose a stone retaining wall instead of a metal enclosure to brighten up egress windows.
Updating your outdoor kitchen? Be sure to discuss retaining wall ideas with your contractor. Not only will a stone retaining wall be a useful and safe design feature when updating an outdoor kitchen, but you can add permanent seating by designing the right height retaining wall. Add comfort with removable and washable cushions and pillows.
Invoke the trendy Cottagecore aesthetic by mixing natural elements into your landscape design. Gone are the manicured restraints of the modern concrete retaining walls, and enter the freeform and colorful delight of the less-maintained and casual rustic design of naturally shaped stone and textured wood.
Living retainer walls with built-in garden boxes and shelf planters are just a few multi-purpose retaining wall ideas. Recycled and treated wood planks are perfect for a raised vegetable garden and provide easy separation of species. Take on a simple family-fun activity for the weekend and build your own vegetable garden with just a few planks of wood and some soil for a simple retaining wall garden. Or, for the more adventurous, bring your elaborate visions to life by a quick search of retaining wall contractors near me.
Smaller patios can utilize simple garden wall ideas, making even balcony patios come alive with retaining wall landscaping. Vines and other traveling plants are a low-maintenance way to bring color to a concrete area.
Use retaining walls to add levels of shrubbery, flowers, or greenery. Enhance your chosen landscape design by using retaining wall ideas to bring symmetry and unity to the overall vision, or mix up the rhythm with varying proportions in stone and wood. Whether you are building a retaining wall to add structural support or you are incorporating retaining wall landscaping into your visual design, the options are endless.
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