Retaining walls are much more than a decorative feature of your yard, they serve a very practical purpose: to prevent soil from moving downhill by the force of gravity. Nevertheless, you can certainly turn them into a decorative aspect of your home. A retainer can be practical, as well as aesthetically pleasing—you just need to appreciate all the functions it serves and consider how you can enhance it. Here are a few reasons why you might need a retainer, and what you can do to maintain and improve it.
Your Home is Close to a Fault line
If your home is located close to a soil fault line, you are at risk of being adversely affected by soil erosion. In the event of an earthquake, the soil will move away from the fault line and and create instability over the ground where your home is. A retainer can stabilize the soil’s movements in your yard. You might not think that an earthquake is likely, but it is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Minimizes Soil Erosion
If erosion is already a problem for you, then a retaining wall can certainly minimize the damage. A retaining wall holds keeps the soil at bay and reduces the level of descent. The flatter the surface the less damage soil erosion can do.
Improves Water Runoff
When it rains heavily, water spills onto the streets and from there to nearby rivers. Wall retainers can help slow the flow of rainwater. Retaining walls are particularly useful in areas that are prone to flooding.
Critical for Houses Located on Slopes
If your home is located on a downhill slope, a retaining wall might be necessary. A sliding hill is the last thing you need for your home, as it can threaten its very foundation. A retaining wall is a good buffer against soil that is moving downwards.
Provides Arable Land
Retaining walls have been used for farmers by centuries. They provide good soil for them to plant crops and provide a level area to operate on. While you won’t be engaging in any large-scale agricultural production, a retaining wall can create the conditions for a garden.
Building and Maintaining Your Retaining Walls
Your retaining wall requires some degree of maintenance to keep it functioning; it also requires a bit of thought if you want it to be a well designed addition to your home. Rather than having it straight, try experimenting with curves. The materials can also be designed for better appearance. How much you want to put into aesthetics depends on your personal taste and budget. If you are planning to build a wall for the first time, the first thing you should do is check the city office for the appropriate building codes-especially if you are planning to build a tall retaining wall. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Proper Terracing
Retainer walls can be terraced for design and extra strength. The task is best performed in increments so that adjustments can be easily made if necessary.
- Work with Standard Blocks
It is much easier to work with a set of standard manufactured blocks when building a retaining wall. It also provides the wall with a more unified look.
- Prepare a Solid Foundation
The wall will be no good without a solid foundation. Dig the base a few inches below grade and fill it with gravel (or appropriate filler).
- Plan for Drainage
A retaining wall should have drainage at the base as it will be collecting a lot of water, in addition to stopping the soil. A fabric-covered drainage pipe is ideal since it prevents clogging.
- Materials to Use
The most common materials for building blocks tend to be timber, concrete and stone. These materials have varying levels of durability, with timber being the least durable. Stone is the most expensive, but is the most durable material and has the best design. If you are willing to spend a little extra, the stone retainer is well worth it in terms of both practicality and style.
Retainer walls can be both protective and stylish with some forethought and investment. If you live on a hill or in an area prone to flooding, it makes sense to build a retaining wall. If you are building one for the first time, or you are looking to refurbish your current retaining wall, then it might be a good idea to consult with a professional who can give you advice on appropriate materials, methods, and cost appropriate to your budget. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you make a better choice for your garden and outdoor needs.