Retaining walls don’t usually draw attention to themselves. As Gardenista notes, “When a retaining wall does it job right, you may not even know it’s there. Think of retaining walls as support hose for sloped terrain: they hold everything in place. Discreetly.” But if you stop to look for them, you suddenly realize they’re everywhere. What do they do, and how do they fit within the grand scheme of your hardscape design? Just as importantly, if you decide you need a retaining wall, who should you contact? The answers to these questions are easier than you might think — especially that last one, at least if you live in the Carolinas. You call Unit Paving.
What Retaining Walls Do
Retaining walls combat soil erosion. They’re an especially welcome addition if your property is hilly, since they act to retain soil on a grade. If your home is at the foot of a hill, a retaining wall prevents landslides from the slope above; if your home is higher up — especially on a property where the road and sidewalk cut through a hilly area — it increases the amount of flat land available, protects your foundation, and more.
Other Retaining Wall Functions
Retaining walls have other functions that are incidental to their intended purpose. Low or terraced walls can provide a bit of seating. They can also be used to delineate planting areas, control rainwater runoff, and contribute beauty to your landscape.
Retaining Wall Materials
There are a few different ways to build a retaining wall, and a wide range of retaining wall products open to you. Wood is popular because it’s inexpensive. However, if you’re working in an area with wet soil, it’s also prone to wear and rot. Poured concrete or steel are more durable, but if the drainage isn’t handled properly, you may find water collecting unexpectedly and rotting root structures or damaging your foundation. Stone or concrete block can be used to great effect, and can complement the architecture of a home, but their installation is equal parts art and science. An experienced paving contractor can help you choose the configuration and materials that will work best for your property.
Design and Building Considerations
Many homeowners try the DIY approach only to find that they’ve caused as many problems as they’ve solved. Different municipalities have different permit requirements for retaining walls. A poor choice of materials, or an ineffective design, will clash with your home and your landscaping. Some cases will require careful site preparation, soil testing, and technical know-how that the average homeowner doesn’t have. To best address all of these concerns, it’s better to have a hardscape design contractor handle the job from the start rather than spending again to get the job done right.
You may not be sure whether you need a retaining wall. Conversely, you may have one already and may not be sure how much useful life it’s got left. In either event, call Unit Paving. As an ICPI paving contractor, we can evaluate your needs and your site to determine the best solution under the circumstances. We serve the Carolinas from our location in Fort Mill, SC, and we’re always a phone call away at (704) 412-4463 for all your concrete paver questions.