When considering landscaping for your property, one of the more significant features that you may wish to discuss with our landscape design team is retaining walls. Whether you are considering one retaining wall or more, they require careful thought to ensure that they are both structurally sound and add to rather than subtract from your garden’s aesthetics. Let us explore what those retaining wall considerations are.
It is first important to know that there is more than your preferences to consider when choosing the location of any retaining wall within your landscaping design. This is especially true if your garden borders a neighbouring property and your wall could, in effect, be facing their property as well as yours. As such you should discuss the wall with them in advance as well as any other neighbouring properties to ensure there are no objections.
In addition, you will likely be required to comply with local building regulations that may be a factor in determining where you can locate a retaining wall if it is going to be higher than 1 metre. Other issues which may affect where you can locate the wall are nearby public utilities such as drainage systems.
There are four main types of retaining walls, although variations of them can be created meaning that your choices are considerable. The four types are Anchored, Cantilever, Gravity, and Sheet.
- Anchored: These, as their name suggests, are anchored directly to the ground using cables. Rarer than the other types, they are often used for difficult or awkward spaces and scenarios.
- Cantilever: These are normally made from stone or concrete and are normally strengthened internally by steel bars. Often configured in an L-shape, they are extremely strong and ideal if you wish to create taller walls.
- Gravity: The name for these walls is derived from the fact that they are used to stop soil movement within a landscaped garden. They are made from concrete or stone blocks and are the perfect type if you want a short wall.
- Sheet Piling: This is a simple wall constructed using a thin sheet of either timber or steel at its core and these are placed into the ground. They work well in small spaces, but on occasion may require some anchoring.
Several materials can be considered for constructing retaining walls for a landscape design. Here are the three most popular.
- Concrete Blocks: These are one of the most common retaining wall materials for many reasons. First, they can be made in a variety of sizes which will suit specific types of walls and also the desired aesthetics. Concrete or limestone blocks can also come in various colours. Finally, concrete blocks are undoubtedly strong and robust which are two key attributes you want any retaining wall to have.
- Dry Stone/Masonry: These are used predominantly in gardens where the desired aesthetics is a country-styled property and garden, although, in truth, they look great in any landscaped garden. Their construction may require the skills of an experienced stone mason, and this ensures their stability and strength.
- Wood: Obviously, wood is not normally going to be as strong as stone or concrete, but that does not mean it cannot be used to create a retaining wall when desired. However, we do recommend that wood is avoided in areas that have plentiful rainfall as this can weaken and warp the wood quickly. Conversely, in drier areas wood is an ideal retaining wall material and it offers an enhanced natural appearance over concrete blocks, for example.
So far we have spoken a lot about the varying strengths and durability of the different materials you can construct a retaining wall with, but now it is time to consider how the retaining wall will look once its construction has been completed. Given how many different shapes, sizes, and types of retaining walls there are, not to mention the various materials they can be made from, it is safe to say that the array of appearances that are possible is almost limitless.
You want your retaining wall to complement, not just your landscape design, but also your home too. It could have a uniform look across its entire surface, or you may wish to go for a more decorative appearance with individual blocks angled to form patterns or shapes within the wall. If you are unsure what is possible, speak to our landscaping company as we will be able to guide you as to what retaining wall styles will create the desired effect within your landscaping.