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Retaining Walls

Retaining walls offer a visual interest to your landscape and often are used to prevent areas of erosion on hillsides. If you have a flat yard, you need only build a landscape wall for your bedded plants and flowers.

Retaining or landscape walls may be made of timber, block covered with stucco, interlocking decorative concrete blocks, or natural or artificial stone. When planning your wall, consider style, cost, durability, and ease of installation.

Landscape timbers are easy to install and relatively inexpensive, but are less durable than concrete or stone. You can expect a good, pressure treated timber wall to last for 15 to 20 years.

Concrete block can be bought as regular cement blocks and covered with stucco or you can buy decorative concrete block. Concrete block requires mortar and will make a good landscape wall, but if you are building a retaining wall, this type of block is not recommended, as the mortar joints will hinder drainage, and your wall will eventually crack.

Stone walls of natural rock stacked as a wall are use both for landscape and retaining walls. This is a lot of work as the stones can be heavy, but it is less expensive than cut stone or interlocking block. Do not use this material if your wall is more than three feet high.

Interlocking concrete block is the easiest of all materials to work with and will last a lifetime if installed properly. Itís flexibility makes installation easy, as you can make curves that add visual interest to your garden or yard very easily. It is quite expensive, but the durability and ease of installation make up for the cost is the long run.

Landscape Walls
Landscape walls are generally built to add visual interest to your yard or garden and are relatively easy to install. They can be free standing or act as a retaining wall for a garden bed, and may be made out of any of the materials listed above. Try to limit the height of your landscape wall to three feet, as your local building code may require deep concrete footings for taller walls.

Make sure you have a solid base that is level to begin with and you should have no problem building your wall.

Retaining Walls
Retaining walls are a bit more complicated. It is important to remember, retaining walls are subject to thousands of pounds of pressure from the weight of the soil and water. Even a three foot wall can collapse if not installed correctly. If you have a tall hill, it will be easier to terrace the hill with several short walls. This is a very big job, and you may want to hire professionals who are knowledgeable in this area, but if you want to tackle it yourself, there are three major steps:

1. Preparing the foundation: This is the most important step, as it will be the base for the wall. It is important to add drainage to prevent erosion and make sure that you have an adequate base. If this step is skipped, and water saturates the soil behind the wall, damage can occur.

2. Installing the first row: When you set your first row, you are establishing the shape and scope of the wall. It is very important to get the first row level, or your wall will be leaning when it is finished.

3. Installing the remaining rows: This is usually the easiest part of the job. If you have installed your base correctly, this step should go smoothly.
 
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