One positive thing to look forward to when deciding to build a retaining wall is that you have options. Although this is certainly not a task for rookie DIY homebuilders, you should, of course, have a say in the style and material used in your retaining wall design.
In addition to the aesthetic value created by putting together a retaining wall, there is also a functional use, as it will prevent soil from sliding. A bonus for retaining walls is that they can also act as seating if they are low enough, which typically is reserved for walls around a garden.
Below we’ll discuss three different materials that can be used when crafting retaining wall ideas, along with the design benefits of each.
Three Retaining Wall Stone Choices and Their Benefits
If you’re looking at full-size blocks, you can forget about attempting to get this done on your own, unless you’re a professional landscaper with some solid experience. These concrete blocks are best suited for walls 30 feet tall or higher. Concrete blocks are big (18 x 8 inches) and can weigh up to 75 pounds each. That means moving a lot of soil and gravel, and plenty of excavating. The more modern concrete block walls are smaller and built for simple assembly, while garden-size walls are the most popular. These smaller walls are excellent for terraces and are the better choice for do-it-yourselfers to get the project done over a couple days.
Overall, concrete blocks offer a variety of design capabilities and work well with curves, corners, and steps.
Natural Stone Walls
Arguably the most aesthetically appealing of all the options, natural stone walls are open to creativity. While natural stones for a retaining wall are the most expensive option among the three included here—and are more labour-intensive—the results of a stone wall encasing a garden can be breathtaking.
If you’re taking on this project yourself, you can stack these stones up to three feet high. Anything more than that and you should definitely think about hiring a professional with some engineering experience. Natural stones are available in either boulder walls, cut stone, or rubble, with boulder being the biggest of the lot.
Wood and Timber
Wood and timber is a traditional option that offers a cottage-like, rustic, or natural quality. Timber on a gravel base can be a great retaining wall design idea. If you’re thinking about cost, wood is the most efficient choice. It’s also a good choice if your design requires angles As mentioned above, a retaining wall of up to three feet may be doable yourself, but for any larger project, it’s recommended that you seek the advice and professional services of a landscaper.
In fact, whichever style you choose, understand that a retaining wall is something that is, in most instances, left to professional landscapers. If you are a seasoned DIYer, make sure there’s someone with you to help out. And when you’re ready to grab all your supplies, head to FSI Landscape Supply, located just outside of Toronto in Brampton, for all of the landscaping tools you’ll need to get started on your retaining wall project.
“How to Choose the Right Retaining Wall Material,” The Family Handyman; http://www.familyhandyman.com/landscaping/retaining-wall/how-to-choose-the-right-retaining-wall-material/view-all, last accessed July 24, 2015.