Retaining Walls

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Retaining walls support landscape structures built on an incline. They also keep hills from slipping, sliding, and eroding into a big mess in your yard. Gravity will always be working on whatever project you've created, and over time, things will tend to settle and even fall unless a structure is put into place to support them. Retaining walls put up a barrier so that materials have no place to fall, except against the surface of the wall.

Retaining walls can be constructed from a variety of materials, including concrete, timber, loose masonry, and stone. The surfaces of these walls provide an opportunity to be creative. You can install lights or even plants into the surface of your retaining wall, creating beauty instead of homogeneity. Small retaining walls are often built by homeowners. However, for larger retaining walls, it's wise to hire a contractor.

Building Codes and Retaining Walls

Retaining walls can be tricky with respect to building codes. For instance, in many communities, you may not build a retaining wall over three feet tall unless you have a permit to do so. One creative way to get around this, however, is to build two or more retaining walls, creating a step effect. In this way, you can still get the height you need, only with a terraced design instead of a straight incline.

Aesthetically speaking, terraced retaining walls are much more attractive anyway. A steep retaining wall can have a forbidden, secretive aspect. A terraced wall is more graceful and inviting. Terraced retaining walls can also brilliantly serve as showcases for more landscaping creations. The plateaus between retaining walls are perfect surfaces in which to install flower, vegetable or stone gardens.

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