For thousands of years, people have used retaining walls to create usable terraces of land on hills and slopes. Retaining walls may be necessary to control downhill erosion around your property. Finally, a retaining wall around your home can make landscaping and gardening around your property much easier. Retaining walls can be simple, or they can be an eye-catching and artistic touch to your outdoor living space.
One of the most attractive materials with which to create a retaining wall is natural stone. If your land is rocky, you can clear the stones from your property to build a wall. In fact, stone retaining walls are ancient in origin, and one of the first building projects ever attempted by humans. A dry-stacked stone wall is not only rustic it also allows for good drainage.
Corten Steel Sheets
Corten is a type of weathered steel used for landscaping. It’s made with special alloys causing the surface to develop a self-protecting layer of rust when exposed to the weather and doesn’t compromise its strength. You might find heavy sheets of corten steel at a steel supply store. If you decide to use steel, make sure you create “weep holes” or channels to allow moisture to seep past the wall, rather than building up behind it.
Recycled railroad ties make an excellent retaining wall. Railroad ties are treated with creosote, making the wood weather-proof and decay-resistant. Like a dry stack stone, it allows for excellent drainage. Also like a natural stone wall, wood railroad ties have a natural, rustic look and feel. However, railroad tie retaining walls don’t have the weight to hold back soil on its own. You’ll need to add “deadmen;” these are ties that extend into the hill to act as anchors, securing the wall into the soil behind it. Be sure to do your homework before building a railroad tie retaining wall.
Retaining walls made of brick are attractive and versatile; there is a wide variety of decorative bricks that can be used to build landscaping walls of all types. However, brick retaining walls can be expensive, and require quite a bit of expertise. That fact is, a typical brick wall will not have the strength to withstand the pressure of a great deal of soil behind it. Unless you know what you’re doing, hiring a professional to build a brick retaining wall is the best thing to do.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.