As you drive through your neighborhood, you probably see several yards with retaining walls. They are an integral part of many people’s landscaping designs, and you may find yourself considering adding these to your landscaping. Retaining walls add the extra oomph and bring your yard up a level, literally. These are low walls that elevate the height of your yard or garden without using visible mounds of dirt. The soil is contained within these walls to create a neater, more professional look. For the adventurous landscaper, creating your own retaining walls can be a welcomed challenge, and may even be considered fun. Be sure to check building codes in your area if you are planning to do it yourself, however, as many places limit the height that walls may be built to when created by amateurs.
When considering retaining walls for your yard, you need to figure the height of the elevated yard and the material you would like the wall made from. The most common walls built are concrete retaining walls, but many homeowners find other materials such as wood to be a good alternative. You should also take into consideration the purpose of the walls. Are they for creating a lower walkway? Are you trying to create a raised garden? On the other hand, maybe you want to cut up your sloping yard into a flat, sectioned yard. There are many different uses for retaining walls. You could create an intricate garden rivaling the most elegant garden from the finest castle. Other times, people may create earthen patios that sit above the rest of their yard. The possibilities are endless with what you choose to do with your yard.
As with any construction project, precautions must be taken. Protective gear such as gloves and steel-toed boots should be used in case of accidents. You may also choose to wear a back brace, since you will be bending and lifting a lot. You also will need tools such as various hammers and mallets, and in some cases, hardware such as screws. Having these supplies at the start of the project saves time and frustration.
Retaining Walls Cost
When designing, you should keep in mind the retaining walls cost. You will have to calculate how long the walls will be, the depth of the walls, and what kind of materials. Concrete is the obvious choice, but most people either cover this or completely replace it with a more eye-pleasing choice such as brick or wooden logs. You may also choose to match the walls to your house. In either case, the cost of the amount of materials will need to be taken into consideration before you start your project. It is not a good idea to start your project and need to stop halfway through because you did not plan for costs. Retaining wall blocks can cost as much as several dollars per block, so even the slightest miscalculation can throw your project off budget. A retaining wall of wood is a slightly more aesthetic and in some cases, a cheaper alternative to masonry.
Building retaining walls requires simple mathematical knowledge and the skills to employ this knowledge. Improperly built walls can result in not only wasted time and money, but can also cause damage to your property. Many homeowners decide to leave installing retaining walls to experts, but it is simple if you understand the process. Usually, the wall uses its force to hold the pressure of the soil in, without collapsing. This can be accomplished by burying the wall deep in the ground, attached to a base, or by anchoring it in some other way. Another tactic is to create a sloping wall that is partly buried in the ground, to create resistance to the force exerted by the filler soil.
Whichever way you choose, you need to be sure your retaining walls will hold up. Straight, plain garden walls will collapse quickly when used as retaining walls. Proper bracing is essential to build a lasting wall. Retaining walls may hold thousands of pounds of soil; so needless to say, weak walls can have disastrous consequences. A poorly constructed wall may cave in under even a few hundred pounds of dirt. A retaining wall may be built from concrete blocks, pressure-treated wood, bricks, natural stone, or a variety of other suitable materials. What you choose is up to your design and needs.
Choosing Materials for your Retaining Walls
With this in mind, it is essential to choose the proper material for your walls. A higher wall needs to be considerably more rigid than a wall that only comes a few inches off the ground. Because of its properties, concrete is generally the material of choice when building retaining walls. However, many people use less rigid materials and choose to reinforce them with concrete, metal, or other strong materials to hold the soil in place. This works for the most part, but this type of retaining wall does not hold up as long as a properly installed retaining wall. A brace should be considered for behind the wall, no matter the material. Bracing the wall now may save you from messy and expensive repairs later. Higher walls also need to be thicker than lower walls, as this helps to even the forces out. Learn more about retaining wall construction.
When considering installing retaining walls, you should decide where you would like them, how large of an area the elevated yard will be, and what material you would like the wall made from. Skilled retaining wall experts can be helpful in assisting you in this process, as they have valuable experience that can help in making your decisions. An expert can bring you pictures of different styles of retaining walls, and possibly even samples of wall materials to help you better understand the look and feel of your new wall. Retaining wall pictures are taken from previous clients, and are a good example of what you wish to build in your yard. They can also help decide whether the mason or carpenter in question is a good candidate to build your walls. You must also remember that installing retaining walls is labor-intensive, as each individual brick or piece must be laid in and leveled out before moving on to the next piece.
Retaining Walls: DIY or Hire a Professional for your Project
Of course, not everyone would want to go to a professional, considering the cost. Building your own retaining walls can be a rewarding project. You will have the self-satisfaction of knowing you can perform your own landscaping, and make it something you are proud of. Your retaining wall design will be one of a kind, created and built by you. Be sure to check all building code regulations in your area, as most places do not allow homeowners to build walls over three feet unless hiring a professional to do it for them, and you may need a building permit.
If all of the proper precautions are taken, you will find it simple to construct a lasting retaining wall. Beautiful landscaping not only is lovely to look at, but raises your home’s value. There is a world of materials available to you; a bit of creativity is all it takes to make your home the home of your dreams. Whether you choose to undertake this project yourself or get professional help, there is a great deal you can learn from this process.