When we talk about gardens and general landscaping you might hear the word ‘retaining walls’ bandied about a bit – yet many people do not understand their fundamental purpose. What are they? When would you need one? What materials? How to build one yourself? We cover all in this handy, quick-fire guide.
What are retaining walls?
We’re glad you asked – retaining walls are structures that are often found in back yards and gardens with a purpose of holding or retaining soil behind it. Retaining walls can come in various forms and can be made from a wide array of materials such as rock, timber, boulders or concrete. Whilst there are simple structures, they can be extremely complex too – and, depending on what materials you utilize, some have a longer life span than others.
What are the best materials to use for a retaining wall?
Here we discover the fine balance between aesthetics and purpose. Retaining walls if done correctly can empower a gardens beauty and can serve as a centerpiece – this is where you can be creative. There are varying choices of materials when it comes to constructing a retaining wall and realistically the visual is really down to personal preference.
When thinking about what material you want to use think about where you’re actually putting your retaining wall and try and encompass a material that will compliment its environment. For example, stone is a great material to use in many cases in the garden as it portrays an organic look, whereas if you’re looking for something maybe a bit more modern, concrete would suit. We also can’t rule out pressure-treated timbers and wood – these can add a real flourish (particularly in rural settings) although their life span isn’t necessarily as good as the stone or rock type retaining walls.
Step back, take a breath and think about your design goals. It would be foolish to rush into just building a retaining wall without thought – make sure you choose a material that’s right for you.
We recommend you look at Kelowna Retaining Walls – these guys can really help brainstorm some good ideas with you.
When is a retaining wall necessary?
A retaining wall serves a multitude of different purposes and many use them for different purposes, however, the most popular uses are:
- Soil erosion prevention – Rain brings the mood down normally and it can also erode your soil and wash soil away. A retaining wall prevents this from happening.
- Overall stability – retaining walls are commonly used when landscaping a garden with a slope, mound or hill. Any landscaper will tell you that when confronted with a slope or hill lots of challenges can arise. One of the most common problems that a slope in a garden presents is that it creates lots of lateral pressure that can lead to movement of soil downwards (landslide!). When implementing a retaining wall it relieves this pressure and prevents the soil from moving (hooray!)
- Visual appeal – as mentioned above retaining walls can be a fantastic addition to the garden to add visual appeal. A well-designed retaining wall can pack a visual punch that will prove easy on any eye.
We hope you found this guide on retaining walls useful and hope that it’s educated you a little to the wonders of the humble retaining wall!