10 Things You Must Know About Retaining Walls

Building a retaining wall can be a big investment of time and money. Before you get started, learn these key tips to make sure your project is a success.

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November 16, 2018

Photo By: Bethany Nauert; Styled By: Paige Geffen

Photo By: Chris Lechinsky

Photo By: Michaelene O'Keefe Photography

Photo By: Chris Leschinsky

Photo By: Juxtapose Design Build

1. Incorporate the Wall Into Your Lifestyle

Retaining walls are usually thought of as utilitarian and for merely holding back soil. While this is true, you can also use them to create beautiful outdoor living spaces to create multi-use spaces.

2. Make a Creative Design

Retaining walls don't have to be perfectly straight. Add a curve to dress up the design and to add a little more texture to your landscape. You can use a garden hose or large rope to set the layout of the curve, then use a shovel to cut through the soil to follow the curve.

3. Size Does Matter

Smaller retaining walls, less than four feet, can be easily planned and created without worrying too much about structure. Larger walls above that height may need an engineer's touch. Also be sure to check with local codes before starting one more than four feet tall.

4. Think Terracing

From a lower grade, you'll need to gradually step up the retaining wall to reach a greater slope. Do this in increments and plan for a slight offset for each course change.

5. Manufactured Blocks and Stones Are Easier

Besides offering a consistent look, manufactured blocks and stones for retaining walls offer structural integrity and an even base with which to work. There is little guesswork in installing, plus you'll have less work to do making sure each course is level. Be sure to color match and space out uneven colored stones and blocks for a better look.

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