Representing both form and function, a retaining wall in your landscape garden design solves problems, adds interest and creates space. A retaining wall addresses drainage issues and, with some of today’s attractive products, can serve in that function while still looking quite beautiful. A retaining wall can also visually divide your landscape into more manageable areas, thus giving the eye a place to rest. It can even do double-time, for instance, when a retaining wall also serves as a bench. Finally, it can help you actually use more of your yard by reclaiming previously unusable or underutilized zones.
These walled structures are built to hold soil in place and away from a home, driveway, motor courtyard, custom swimming pool or other landscaped area. These barriers are constructed of varying height and length and can even be made to appear as if part of your fence. Their most common problems have to do with stability, with water drainage being the biggest factor to confront and contain in the Gulf Coast area.
Call in the Pros
A retaining wall attempts to master erosion and gravity. Since these forces are two of the most powerful on the planet, homeowners usually turn to expert engineers, contractors and builders when they need such a partition built. In fact, most regulating bodies require that a certified engineer either build or inspect these structures when they go over a certain height. The same goes for when they are built close to a structure or driveway. Your landscape designer or landscape architect should be able to help you with this permitting process.
Jeff Halper, landscape specialist with Exterior Worlds, says, “Our full service solution with retaining walls is most important when integrating them into the yard drainage system. The biggest enemy is water, so you’ve got to have good drainage behind the wall. Another concern is tree preservation, as it is with any building project. You want to be sure that tree roots aren’t harmed in any way. In general, what Exterior Worlds brings to the table in this arena is that we take into account all aspects of your landscape, including such things as grade changes, comingled steps and different surfaces.”
You’ll have plenty of choices to make when building these “land dams.” Options include:
• Design. The topography of the land and the wall’s purpose will determine placement, height and length. Be cognizant of blending it into other features of your landscape, such as the patio design, pool design, pathways, garden bed edges and ponds.
• Material choice. Usually stone, brick, pavers, masonry, concrete, steel or wood. When making your selection, be sure to coordinate it with your home’s exterior and any other deck design choices you have made. Also you will want to be guided by any homeowners’ association requirements. When considering color, be sure to factor in the shade of mortar.
• Style. You will want to coordinate it with your home and landscape architecture, but styles include, among others, the sharp and spare contemporary lines of concrete, the hearth and home warmth of brick and the enduring strength of stone.
Call Exterior Worlds at 713-827-2255 to discuss all your landscaping needs such as hardscapes, storm drainage, French drains and irrigation systems. Since 1987, Exterior Worlds has specialized in high-end landscape design and services for the greater Houston area including the Memorial Villages of Piney Point Village, Bunker Hill Village, Hunter Creek Village and Hedwig Village, Tanglewood, River Oaks and West University. Website: www.exteriorworlds.com.