Retaining Walls: The Basics

Retaining Walls: The Basics

When you are dealing with drastic changes in elevation with your landscaping, retaining walls may be an important investment decision to consider.

What should you know about retaining walls before building or hiring someone to build one? Once you have decided that you need one, what are the most important aspects to consider?

Let’s start with whether or not you should get one at all.

Is a Retaining Wall a Good Idea?

Before committing to the idea, it’s important to know whether it’s the best option for you. When should you get a retaining wall? There are a few different circumstances where this is the best option.

If you are having issues with controlling downhill erosion, you may want to consider a retaining wall. Putting up a wall can really help if you have piles of erosion materials clogging up your property in important areas. By decreasing the angle of the slope in question and holding back soil, a retaining wall is your best option in this case.

In the case of your foundation being possibly threatened by a sliding hill, a retaining wall is a fantastic idea. Erosion can actually threaten the foundation of your home, and any landscaping professional will agree.

Lastly, consider a retaining wall if your home is downhill from soil fault lines. Even if there isn’t immediate danger of erosion causing damage to your house, it could still happen under different circumstances. Having a retaining wall will give you peace of mind, no matter what happens.

If any of these situations are what’s going on in your landscaping, a retaining wall is definitely the right choice for you.

Once you know that building a retaining wall is your best choice, here are some of the basic aspects you should consider about them before making one, or hiring someone to make one for you.

The Top 5 Things You Should Know About Retaining Walls

Before planning out your own retaining wall, consider these five aspects first. They will make the process much smoother for you.

1. Make Them a Beautiful Part of Your Landscaping

While these parts of your landscaping are typically used for practical purposes, it will make a big difference if you make it an aesthetically pleasing part of your landscape.

The wall can carve out an area of your yard for a patio or other forms of hardscaping. This makes it both nice to look at and practical. You can also use it for a vertical garden or vines.

2. Consider the Size Before Hiring Professionals

If you are not sure whether or not you can handle the retaining wall yourself, consider the size first.

For retaining walls that are small and won’t be a concern for the structure (probably around 4 feet or less), it may be plausible to handle it on your own. However, for bigger walls, you may want to hire a professional to avoid issues with further erosion or structure. It is also a good idea to check with your local codes before building one that large as well.

3. Blocks and Stones May Be Easier Than Other Materials

Some of the best materials to consider are manufactured stones and blocks for retaining walls. They will ensure that you keep an even base throughout the wall, and they will stay structurally sound. On top of that, they look really nice as well.

For the best results, color match the blocks/stones, and space out uneven ones for a uniform look.

4. Don’t Forget About Drainage

For retaining walls that have slopes dropping to it, you will need additional drainage at the base.

Simply add gravel as well as a drainage pipe covered in fabric at the base. This will prevent the pipe from clogging, and allow drainage to run through smoothly.

5. Keep Everything Level

If you are building the retaining wall yourself, make sure that you are making it as level as possible. In addition to making it look better, it will be a stronger and more sturdy part of your landscaping.

Our Final Thoughts on the Basics of Retaining Walls

Whether you decide to build a retaining wall on your own, or have professionals help you do it, it’s important to know the basics of building one well.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and need professional assistance with building a retaining wall for your landscaping, contact Homescape Now today!