So, you picked out the perfect-looking retaining wall stones for your yard. The color and design of your retaining wall material match your house and garden perfectly. You know it’s going to make your yard the nicest on the block.
But… how do you build and use a retaining wall in your yard?
It is important to plan your retaining wall project to make sure it turns out correctly. Good retaining walls will be firm and stand up to the test of time. They also create more level areas for you to use in your yard. Whether you want to use these spaces for terraces in a garden, for more parking, or as a spot for kids to play, a retaining wall opens up many possibilities.
Follow the guide below to help get you started.
Before You Break Ground: Lot Lines and Utilities
Before you bring out the shovels, you need to make sure the location of your retaining wall won’t cause any problems. Confirm the lot lines of your property before you begin. Your local municipality will have your lot survey on record. This can be used to identify property lines. The last thing you want is to get halfway through your project only to have your neighbor complain you have crossed the property line, causing you to start all over.
Just as important is confirming the location of underground utilities. As with any project that requires digging in your yard, you should call your utility companies to confirm the location of underground wires and pipes. Damaging or destroying pipes and wires can disrupt services and cost you a pretty penny for repair fees. Even more importantly, breaking a gas line or electric wire can be extremely dangerous, causing serious injury or even death.
As with any project, safety comes first. Follow these steps before you start digging, and you’ll make sure both you and your neighbors stay happy.
Water drainage is one of the most important things to consider when putting up a retaining wall. After all, you want to help protect your largest investment (home). That means it’s essential that the retaining wall is built to prevent erosion, protect the property from flooding or a landslide, and reinforces the foundation.
First of all, your garden requires good watering conditions. Each plant requires different amounts of water. That is why it’s important to make sure you set up the right drainage conditions depending on what kind of garden you have.
Secondly, you need proper drainage to make sure that run-off from rain doesn’t flood unwanted areas, such as your basement. If you don’t make sure that water drains away from your house, then you could find yourself dealing with water damage every time it rains hard.
Water drainage is all about finding the right direction to make water go. When you add a retaining wall to your yard, you also must make sure that water is redirected away from the top or the bottom of the wall. When water concentrates at these areas it can damage the wall, causing it to collapse.
On the other hand, if you direct water flow under the wall and to a proper drainage area, then your wall can last a lifetime. The main point is to avoid water damage and make sure your retaining wall is diverting or collecting water in a way that keeps it from venturing under your home or causing flooding or mold.
In summary, here are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to water drainage and retaining walls:
- Make sure your gardens are sloped so that water moves away from the foundation of your house.
- Make sure proper pipes and drains are set up to ensure that your plants receive the right amount of water.
- Direct water to flow under your retaining wall so that it doesn’t sit on the top or bottom of the wall and cause damage to the structure.
Soil conditions are just as important as water conditions when it comes to the plants in your garden. Every landscape type requires different types of soil beds, so it is important to research which kind is best for the plants in your yard.
The three most common types of soil are:
- Sandy Soils
- Clay Soils
- Organic Soils
Sandy soils will remind you of the beach. These soils are easy to work with, and they drain very easily. But not many plants grow well in these conditions. Just think about how many plants you saw the last time you were on a sandy beach.
Clay soils, on the other hand, are much harder, which mains they drain poorly. The hard soil can also make it difficult for plants to grow their roots in. That brings us to organic soils.
Organic soils are the most common type for garden planting beds. Most plants thrive best in garden beds with well-drained organic soils.
Depending on your landscape and what kind of plants you are trying to cultivate in your yard, you may need to remove and replace your current soil bed. That is why it is important to identify the soil in your yard before installing your retaining wall. Remember to also consider what kind of plants you want in your garden, and which soil conditions will work best for them.
Garden Wall Base/Wall Rocks
Once you have figured out the water drainage and soil conditions for your yard, it’s time to think about the wall base. A good retaining wall needs a firm foundation. Even with proper drainage that redirects most of the water away from the wall, some water will still go through the wall and end up at the base. This is especially true in areas with heavy rainfall.
For this reason, it is important to use wall rocks at the base of your garden wall. You should plan on using a clean, granular wall rock underneath your wall base. When properly compacted at the base, wall rocks make sure water is properly drained away from the wall, adding to the performance and look of your finished garden wall.
Pro tip: Interlocking block walls are much easier than pouring concrete. They’re just as strong and are much more pleasing to the eye, with abundant options to choose from.
If you follow these necessary steps as a guide, then you will find that your retaining wall construction project will turn out right and look great! If you are looking to do a DIY job, major brand names include:
- Allan Block
- BelAir Wall
- Estate Wall
- Geo Pro
- Sterling Wall
All of these brands have great products that allow you to complete a DIY job successfully. Just follow the necessary steps in this guide, and you’ll transform your yard into the talk of the neighborhood!