Landscape Designing: Retaining Walls

Landscape Designing: Retaining Walls


Landscape designing is not just about placing plants and trees in attractive arrangements. There are some other concepts and ideas too that can be used to create deliberate variations for better soil retention, use of acreage and sometimes just better visual impact. The retaining walls are one such concept that is used quite commonly in landscaping.

Retaining walls are basically small walls created to hold back the soil. Usually, these are used to create slopes in the lawn to give it a natural variation in the terrain. These retaining walls can be used to create a minor slope or even a small hill in commercial landscapes. These walls are also used to control the erosion of soil and create an artificial terraced landscape. Sometimes, a series of such retaining walls and plantations are used to create a visually appealing structure in the garden.

Designing Aspects

1. Slope gradient should not be more than 33%: what this translates into is that for every feet rise in the height of the slope the length of the slope should extend by at least 3 feet. This is a good rule of thumb to understand the area you would use for a slope in your lawn. Using this you can determine if you want to add one large slope or split that into smaller slopes around the entire landscape.

2. Limit the wall heights to 4 feet: anything more than 4 feet looks too big and it loses its aesthetic value. Besides with a retaining wall of 4 feet you are looking at a very large slope which may not be preferable in most landscapes anyway. Only taller natural structures like hills would blend well with the landscape.

3. Create seats using retaining walls: retaining walls that are 2-2.5 feet tall make for great seats. You can create aesthetic appeal as well as make a usable structure with these small retaining walls.

4. Leave space for planting beds: If you are planning to have some plants or even just grass around the retaining wall, make sure that you are leaving ample space for the same. Usually a 1.5 feet distance is good for planting beds. This is the additional area you need to account for in your design.

5. Take care of safety: As pleasing as the retaining walls and slopes may be to the eye, they come with some safety hazards. Small children playing around the edges of the retaining wall could fall down. Not only children, it could be a risk even for some unsuspecting adult. There are different ways you can secure such walls. The best way is to have some plants around the edge to demark that area as the end. You can also ensure some cushion or padding at the bottom of the wall to ensure any potential fall has a soft landing.

6. Choose appropriate building blocks: Retaining walls can be made using a wide range of blocks. Decorative concrete blocks are not only sturdy but also come in various designs and patterns. You can also use bricks to create a rustic look on the wall typically the brick walls have a concrete foundation with small bricked mortared on top. Whole natural stones or even smaller blocks mortared on concrete walls are great options for the retaining wall design.

As you can see, retaining wall is a great concept in landscape designing. It not only creates a variation in the landscape terrain, but using the right building material you can make the wall itself look impressive.