Retaining Wall Ideas for Your Landscaping
There are many practical reasons to build a retaining wall. The most common reason is to help prevent soil erosion – a “wearing away” state that happens when topsoil is physically washed away by rain or blown away by wind. Humans contribute to this soil erosion problem when they design houses and properties that have steep slopes or incorporate many cut down trees with no yard plants. Soil cannot properly bind to other soil and stay in place without trees.
Retaining wall ideas have helped to combat some of this corrosion, but many people have used outdoor walls for pure aesthetic purposes. They can be used to beautify properties and create grand entryways and flower beds. These walls have been made of stone, brick and mortar, poured concrete in a mold or “dry” stone. Stacked dry stone has an advantage of allowing water to seep through and relieving the pressure on the soil. Walls that are made with mortar need a drainage system to relieve pressure.
How to Build a Retaining Wall
One of the most popular stones used in retaining wall design ideas is fieldstone, which is collected from fields or topsoil and cut before it is used in buildings or walls. Most fieldstone walls are thin, flat, stackable rocks that look stylish and create an appealing rippled texture. Fieldstone walls should be no more than four feet tall and work well as dry-stacked. Gravity and the weight of the rocks hold the wall in place, so no plaster is needed.
Another option is to mix materials for a slightly higher wall. Fieldstones mortared on the ground can be topped by wood. The stone is the real soil retainer, in these designs, leaving many options for the design of the wood. Some lawns use wood tiles that overlap like roof times. Others use the picket fence design on top of the fieldstones. A trellis, board fence, sound fence or privacy screen are also good uses for the wood in these walls.
Stone can also be use to make circular walls. Although many homes have straight lines and angles, there are times the wall that retains must follow the slopes and angles of the yard or curve around a house to cover all the areas where soil erosion might occur. Low, earth-toned flagstone, including limestone, granite and quartz, has created beautiful walls. Flagstone usually is sold in sheets that are up to four inches thick.
Low, curling walls play into the fantasy of privacy for most home owners. Although a low wall covers or secludes nothing, the curves in the wall give the illusion of privacy. Many designers add fountains, elegant seating, umbrellas or awnings and yard art to keep the illusion going.
In some cases, the privacy that a wall affords is not an illusion. Some people place stone walls at the edge of their property lines to place a clear barrier between their yards and their neighbors or their yards and a public street. Most of the time, this is not an attempt to hide the yard, per se, but a civilized way to mark territory. It sets boundaries for neighborhood pets and children.
Design Ideas for Retaining Walls
Entryways that use retaining walls add immeasurably to curb appeal and the value of property. Some home and garden entrances have walls that are extremely high and built with arches and gates. They have the power to transform the front of a home to resemble a castle or some other enchanted place.
The walls that serve the purpose of entryways should be functional, seamless enough to appear a natural part of the house design and breathtaking enough to make a lasting statement. Some are also terraces that made from the same stone as the front steps and can be used as stone planters that house overhanging greenery, flowers and shrubs. The bottom line is: a holding wall used as an entryway should help create an experience that no visitor ever forgets.
All retaining walls should be built to last. Aside from making a landscape look more beautiful, it is in place to help hold together soil that has been packed down for thousands of years. However, it is also a fence that helps to mark space and place an impressive line in the dirt.