First things first: what is a retaining wall? Simply put, a retaining wall is a barrier that holds in place earth that would otherwise erode or collapse. Retaining walls can be small DIY projects or larger-scale and professionally constructed. Retaining walls can be constructed from a range of materials and can vary in size, shape, and design.
There are two main reasons to consider a retaining wall. First, because it’s physically necessary to correct a slope, prevent erosion, or otherwise level the earth in your yard. These retaining walls serve a functional purpose. In residential settings, retaining walls are necessary when there might be an abrupt separation of ground elevation. Reasons a retaining wall can be necessary include sunken patios, walkout basements, and other hardscapes. Aesthetics are the second consideration. Retaining walls can create tiered gardens or flowerbeds, which add visual interest to otherwise ordinary spaces.
Of course, landscape and hardscape elements can be both practical and beautiful. This is certainly the case with retaining walls, and is an important reason to work with a landscape architect when considering the installation of a retaining wall.
An expert landscape artist with retaining wall experience can help determine construction specifics as well as design aesthetics—meaning experienced landscapers will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various materials, placement, and size.
Remember that there are specific considerations in determining if you need a retaining wall, some of which you might not know until you consult with an expert. Among those considerations: the slope of the earth at the location and the current drainage situation at the location in question, type of soil, and weather conditions (such as freezing).
As is the case with so many projects, building a retaining wall can be a DIY project for some, but working with an expert familiar with retaining walls and your geographical area ensures that the retaining wall built will be not only attractive, but will also function as intended.
Knowing whether or not you need a retaining wall is more involved than just knowing you’re ready to build, and working with a professional landscape and construction company can help ensure all considerations: practical and financial, logistical and aesthetic, are fully researched and planned before construction begins.
Curious about retaining walls and your options? Contact us to learn more.
Home improvement isn’t ever easy. If something can go wrong – it will! With that being said retaining wall installation doesn’t have to be difficult. By planning and designing your wall before the first shovel of dirt is moved, you can ensure the perfect structure for your home.
It’s important to note that building a retaining wall for your home isn’t for people new to DIY home improvement. The structural component of retaining walls requires more than a little elbow grease. For this reason, many people find hiring an Olathe landscape architect useful when designing a wall.
Whether you hire a landscaper or do it yourself, here’s why retaining wall installation doesn’t have to be difficult:
Retaining walls can often be large projects that take up a lot of space on your property. Before beginning a large-scale project – make sure to identify property lot lines.
If you’re going to undertake a large project, it is neighborly to let all around you know of the future construction.
Utility lines are dangerous. Get your lines marked before beginning any project – retaining wall or not. Call your utility company to have this done.
Retaining walls above certain heights will require a building permit. Check with the city code before starting your project.
It’s crucial to determine the type of soil found at your dig site. Test the ground to see if it’s clay, sandy, or organic type of soil. Organic soils are not to be used for retaining wall projects. Sandy soil is the best, but clay is more prevalent and can still work on your wall.
The environment and vegetation surrounding your wall will play a critical component. Trees and bushes can be used to enhance the overall look and landscape of your retaining wall. Just remember that planting trees behind your wall once it’s installed can add pressure to the structure of your wall.
Solid ground is essential for retaining wall installations. The type of soil is important, but compacting that soil firmly is also vital.
Retaining walls featuring greater heights will usually be harder to create than shorter ones. You may have to consult the code within your city if building a giant retaining wall.
Cut and Fill
Many retaining wall installations take place on a hill or slope. If you’re building in one of these areas – make sure you determine how much cut and fill will need to be taken or brought. Projects requiring cuts or fill are better suited for professionals, like Olathe landscape architects.
Olathe Retaining Wall Installation
If you have an Olathe retaining wall installation project forthcoming, you may want some professional help. If so, we’d love to hear from you at Huston Contracting, Inc.