Retaining Walls: Creating a More Functional Yard

May 14, 2012

Building a retaining wall can be a creative way to add functional space to your landscape or outdoor living area. A retaining wall design can also be a solution to a tricky or hard-to-deal-with yard – especially if your yard has grading issues. A sloped yard can be hard to maintain, and it’s poorly suited for entertaining, socializing and relaxing.

Building a retaining wall can help address these problems associated with sloped areas. At the same time, a thoughtful retaining wall design will create a more functional, more expansive space in your yard. In this way, building a retaining wall allows for more gardening space and for a much neater appearance overall.

Building a retaining wall can serve many purposes, including:

  • Creating a flat area. Essentially, building a retaining wall eliminates part of the hill and creates a flat space for socializing and relaxing.
  • Terracing to add more plant-able space. Terracing is a twist on the leveling theme, in that it creates flat spaces, but in tiers. A terraced retaining wall design can create shallow increments of flat areas, which is perfect for creating multiple planting areas. For instance, one level might be for herbs, while another showcases your favorite flowering specimens.
  • Bench space. A strong retaining wall design can create automatic seating by incorporating bench space.
  • Decoration. Retaining wall designs can also showcase landscaping features such as trailing plants.

Building a retaining wall yourself can be difficult because there are many technical aspects to consider. Depending on your situation, your retaining wall design may require tiebacks to reinforce and strengthen the wall. Moreover, every retaining wall design must include a plan for drainage.

Finally, remember that your city probably has laws that govern the size and height of your retaining wall. Larger walls will also need to be properly reinforced – and again, this may be subject to city code and inspection. In order to insure that your retaining wall design is to code, be sure to hire a professional landscaping service to design it for you.