We’ve noticed something here at Taylor Fencing. We’ve noticed that as the year winds down and we kick things off again for 2021, a lot of you are really interested in getting ahead of a variety of projects. None phase us, at this point- it would take a lot to surprise us or catch us off guard. What’s more interesting to us is the popularity of different projects, often by season. We always know when our customers are going to reach out to learn more about how often they should paint or maintain their fences. We always know when we’re inevitably going to get the call about fence repairs due to moisture or inopportune weather. And while we’re maintaining that we’re never phased, we did think it was interesting that retaining walls are really making a comeback right now. You want to know what they are, how they work, why you should choose them, or in the case of today’s post… when you don’t need to choose them. That is a thing, you know. Retaining walls aren’t the end-all, be all of ensuring that your home and landscaping are safe, well organized and fun to look at.
Let’s start with what a retaining wall is for our blog readers that are scratching their heads and wondering what we’re talking about. There’s no shame here; straight from Wikipedia: “Retaining walls are relatively rigid walls used for supporting soil laterally so that it can be retained at different levels on the two sides. Retaining walls are structures designed to restrain soil to a slope that it would not naturally keep to (typically a steep, near-vertical or vertical slope). They are used to bound soils between two different elevations often in areas of terrain possessing undesirable slopes or in areas where the landscape needs to be shaped severely and engineered for more specific purposes like hillside farming or roadway overpasses. A retaining wall that retains soil on the backside and water on the frontside is called a seawall or a bulkhead.”
They’re completely right and the latter part of the above quote answers exactly why they’re necessary. We love working on properties that can be found on sloped lots – you just know that they’re going to have elevated views that our customers will enjoy for generations to come. But, as with all good things in life, there are always two sides to every coin. So, when you build on a sloped lot, you may contend with all sorts of things that Mother Nature doesn’t consult you on… like landslides.
In summary, retaining walls or something similar are necessary, this isn’t one of the home design and construction elements that you can bypass. Believe us, your wallet and sanity will thank you later. BUT, as mentioned, there are alternatives to retaining walls. Let’s learn more:
Probably the most popular solution is reinforced soil slopes. They’re one of the fastest and easiest construction styles. They work leveraging a geotextile, examples include polypropylene and polyethylene and when designed and completed correctly, they lock the soil on the property into place. Think of it like packing cookie dough into a mold. It will retain its shape (hopefully) no matter what. Builders tend to choose reinforced soil slopes working with larger properties, especially if they’re historically impacted by earthquakes. It’s great because the material that you need is already on the property. There’s also an improvement in your carbon footprint – this solution definitely helps out both the air quality and the water quality in your area. This solution won’t break the bank either, ranging from three dollars to 27 dollars for every square foot you need.
If you’re passionate about having some sort of structural wall, but you’re still looking to explore all of the options out there, natural stone walls are another alternative to check out. You see these most of the time on properties that have raised gardens, they draw the eye to whatever landscaping you’re celebrating by season (so, if you go this route, we recommend that you keep an eye on your plants! If you live on the coast or adjacent to a large body of water, we’re guessing that you’ve seen a variety of these as well. The reason is that they prevent land falls, but they also are integral in protecting the coast during high tide, which can be detrimental and sometimes even dangerous. One reason for choosing natural stone walls that many don’t think of is for seating. They can be strategically placed throughout your property with the bonus that they then become a form of a bench for the next party that you hold with loved ones. The benefits are a plenty – they blend in well, no matter what sort of style your home has, they’re great for the environment and you have tonnes of choices for style and colour. Natural rock is probably more cost-efficient than you realize – eight dollars to 12 dollars for every square foot that you need.
Finally, if you’re a bit more a wood person or you think that aesthetic works better with your property, you’re in luck. Wooden timbers aren’t just for the impressive fence and gate products that the Taylor Fencing team loves to share with you. Nope, they work here too. Both wooden timbers and railroad ties have grown in popularity as an alternative to your regular retaining wall. Again, these are great for raised gardens and look especially natural. They’re similar to natural stone in that there are a wide range of options for look and colour and can be a great backdrop for landscaping. That is to say that you can plant around them, next to them, even with plants that drape over them. This is one durable material, and another that your carbon footprint will thank you for. At 15 to 25 dollars per square foot that you need, you can’t go wrong.