Choosing Retaining Walls
Retaining walls can help prevent erosion, allow you to make usable space out of a steeply sloped yard, create a beautiful focal point, or help you to define areas for gardening or decorative planting. They're also invaluable for fire pits or barbecue pits.
Retaining walls can be roughly categorized into two types: dry-laid and structural. A dry-laid wall is comprised of loose rock held in place by gravity and careful planning, often with room for plants and roots. A structural wall is either made with poured concrete or of individual pieces of rock or concrete joined with mortar.
When planning for a retaining wall, consider the use and its placement in your yard. Measure your yard or landscape carefully and plan your space accordingly. Due to the weight of the rocks you'll be moving, you'll want to have a plan firmly in place before you start to build to avoid having to move them more than once.
A proper foundation is just as essential to the integrity of a retaining wall as it is to a home. You'll need level, compacted earth, and you'll want to lay larger stones at the bottom, especially in a dry-laid wall.
Drainage is another important component, regardless of the type of wall you choose. Structural walls that have mortar in between the stones or bricks may need weep holes or drain pipes. Gravel backfill can be helpful in directing the water. The biggest source of failure with retaining walls is improper drainage, so don't skimp on this.
The materials available to use give you a lot of options. Concrete block is available in a variety shapes, styles and colors, and is among the most affordable options. Flat-face block gives you beautiful, smooth lines, and weathered looks are available for anyone who wants a more organic look. Different shapes available allow you to achieve straight lines or rhythmic curves.
Natural stone walls provide an attractive, organic look. Subtle color differences in natural stone help to create beautiful variegation in your wall, but the irregularities in shape will require a mix of planning and experimentation in order tobuild a stable wall. Do-it-yourselfers should stick to walls under three feet high —anything higher should be left to the experts.
Cut stone walls are another option for anyone who likes the organic feel of natural stone but prefers the uniformity of regular shapes. Due to the consistency of cut stone blocks, these are just as easy to build as a concrete wall.
A beautiful retaining wall adds a delightful focal piece to your landscape and provides help with soil control and plantings. Click here to find out more about the materials available for retaining walls in Morgan Hill.
Brett has had a lifelong interest in plants and trees and writes about his interest as a creative outlet. You can read his latest musings at Livejournal blog.
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