Landscape retaining walls define space, provide privacy and security, screen out wind and noise and hold the earth at bay.
Retaining walls bring a sense of solidity and permanence to your garden. Once you have determined a walls function, you can choose its location, width and height. You will also need to select materials that coordinate with the style of your house and surrounding garden.
Typical materials for garden walls are mason products such as concrete blocks, bricks or adobe. Although their uniform size lets you assemble them piece by piece without worrying about matching shapes or sizes, it does take experience to quickly lay a brick or block wall that is straight and level.
Poured concrete walls offer more design possibilities because the surface texture and shape are established by wooden forms. Most of the work goes into building and stabilizing these forms.
In the hands of a mason, stone forms walls that seem integral to the landscapes. Stone thats prominent in your region will look the most natural in your garden. Visit a local stone yard or building materials supplier to see all of your options. There are a wide range of colors to choose from.
When building your walls, no matter the material, it must be supported with a solid foundation, or footing. Poured concrete is the best footing you can provide because it can be smoothed and leveled. Make footings at least as deep as the width of the wall and twice as wide.
For very low walls, under one foot in height you can lay the base of the wall on tamped soil or in a level trench.
In the southwest gardens are all about thick, earthen walls that appear to grow from theÂ surrounding soil. Stacked railroad ties can give a country garden a really sturdy old fashioned look. To bring a Mediterranean feel to your landscape, use gray stones or boulders to create your garden wall, I like to use rosemary to drape over the boulders for a true Mediterranean look.
Building a low wall serves many roles in a garden. It can define the edge of a patio or terrace, create a sense of enclosure without making a space feel closed in, and provide extra seating without taking up additional space.
To make a wall comfortable for sitting build it 14′ to 16′ high and at least 12′ wide. For mason walls, make sure the cap or top piece is a smooth surface that wont ruin clothing.
The cap in a contrasting material from the wall, like blue stone, brick or stucco, will add a distinct look to your backyard.
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