Retaining wall ideas: Why a wall at all?

If you've got any type of gradient on your property that's primarily made of packed dirt or probably something more "shifty," you may need some retaining wall ideas to keep the erosion under control. Unless Mother Nature has already done her job and leveled the ground for you, it may be a good idea to think of putting in a stone, brick or wooden wall to prevent further "damage." You can also use retaining structures as foundation soil for your swimming pool, barbecue areas and play areas because all of these Retaining Wall Ideasneed flush surfaces. Actually, you could probably build any of these on a slope but you'd most likely have guests constantly sliding into the deep end of the pool, friends regularly running downhill after runaway sausages and your kids' more rotund friends frequently rolling off the sand pits! Let's see how we can avoid these unwanted "situations."

Moving walls: concrete retaining wall ideas

Of the many retaining wall ideas that are available to you, one of those quickly gaining popularity is the cement-free structure. Usually made of concrete bricks without the typical interstitial mortar or pointing, these are easy to install, easy to move around and easy to take down when you don't want them anymore or when you choose to put in a more permanent retaining wall. However, because of the tremendous lateral pressure, you can't often build them very high without proper structural consultation by a qualified engineer, or at least an experienced landscaping contractor. That said, this is a very appealing and cost effective option that is favored by many.

Retaining wall ideas: Moving again

Another great retaining wall idea is to use random-cut rough-hewn stone. Similar in design to the concrete mortar-free walls, these have no adhesive material holding the units together. These may also be more expensive than concrete, depending on what stone you're using. The most economical option will be to use material that's commonly available in your part of the world – your contractor should be able to give you a few good choices regarding this.

Working with the lay of the land

One of the better retaining wall ideas to come out of landscape reengineering is to build your wall at an angle that matches the terrain. If you're working with a big gradient, this is more practical. It will save some amount of initial work and will prevent erosion just as well as an upright wall. You can also put the wall up in such a way that it acts like a natural set of steps going up the slope; you could then have your swimming pool or barbecue set up at the top – the view will be better and steps are a whole lot safer than trying to slip and slide down a slope at night, no matter how well-lit your garden is.

What's with the lay of the land obsession?

You can also use pavers to build your wall – it would merely be an extension of the patio – if the slope is gentle. Technically it wouldn't still be a retaining wall if it holds the soil underneath in place. As retaining wall ideas go, wood is also an option. However, you need to be careful in the selection of the wood if you want it to last a long time. It might have to be matured hardwood, which is expensive, or it would have to be weatherproofed. However, the expense will be more than justified in the looks on your guests' faces when they see a well-designed wooded wall in the middle of the yard. If you have a bigger budget, you could commission some hand carvings like Buddha in various meditation poses, exotic animals or even a picture story based on a favorite epic. This would surely impress (or possibly just shock) the neighbors, and make you a talking point for the entire community. Just make sure you're not breaking any zoneing laws when you do this, the last thing you would want is for the government to have to come and tear down your wall.

Your stamp of approval

Finding retaining wall ideas is not so much a matter of choosing the materials and design as it is a question of what goes well with the rest of your landscaping. Very few landscape designers can pull off making ultra-modern lawn furniture fit in with medieval English stone, for example. On the other hand, it's your space and it should be your choice what goes in it. Find the right balance between conventional designs and a unique flavor that represents your nature – not always easy, but the effect will be stunning every time; even if only to you.