Creating Strong, Durable and Lasting Walls
A retaining wall is used for as the name suggests, to retain a mass behind it. This allows the space to retain two different levels either side, resulting in stabilising your properties landscape. This could be a large amount of mass or could just be a small amount.
Although its main purpose is to retain soil, it doesn’t have to be its sole purpose. It can be more than just a wall, it can be a feature to the landscape or built to sit modestly within the surroundings. You can incorporate a retaining wall to suit your garden and lifestyle. They can be multipurpose to include a bench, planting, fire pit, water feature and more.
Why have a retaining wall:
- To create flat usable space
- Prevent erosion
- Divert rainwater
- Add definition on a hill
Some retaining walls last for a few years and others can last a lifetime. In order to determine that a wall lasts for as long as possible, you have to consider what goes on behind the wall and below. We’ve all witnessed a retaining wall nearing the end, where it’s cracked, crumbling and leaning. This could be gravity, along with the sloping land and at times craftsmanship contributing to the demise.
There are different materials available to achieve a retaining wall including:
- poured concrete
Stone is a natural material that offers beauty, strength and a traditional quality. So it’s no surprise they create some of the nicest looking walls around and were the first material used in ancient times to craft walls.
Pro’s: Appearance, strong, durable, flexible
Con’s: Heavy, pricey, drainage requires increased planning
It’s one of the most popular materials and unlike concrete, its colour offers warmth. Although not completely natural, given time it’ll become absorbed in its natural surroundings.
Pro’s: Low maintenance, weather resistant, durable
Con’s: Heavy, inflexible, pricey
Often used for larger structures displaying its strength with the likes of bridges and dams. Though when used in residential properties provides a modern, clean and architectural aesthetic. It’s reinforced with steel rods, increasing its strength and making it a long lasting option for a wall, especially a retaining wall.
Pro’s: Strength, variety, flexibility and consistent in appearance
Con’s: Requires skill to build, susceptible to crack without steel rods, vulnerable to chemical damage.
Wood doesn’t tend to be the best material for large retaining walls, but where suitable, offers a space warmth and a sense of nostalgia. It’s also a good choice of material if cost is an issue.
Pro’s: Natural, cost effective, easy installation, lightweight
Con’s: Limited lifespan, strength, can be susceptible to termites
Gabions are a cost effective and attractive way to create retaining walls. There also a long-standing method to building a wall and have proven their durability and strength.
Pro’s: Heavy, easy to build, flexible
Con’s: Prone to rust, vulnerable to water, not suitable for all aesthetics
There are pro’s and con’s to each material and depending on the surroundings they’ll inhabit and the mass needing to be retained, certain materials are more suited, than others. With some materials also proven more cost effective, price efficient and usually the most important consideration for a structure, being a long lasting option.