Tag Archives: retaining wall contractors

4 Exciting Ways That Retaining Wall Contractors Improve Your Landscaping

4 Exciting Ways That Retaining Wall Contractors Improve Your Landscaping - Mares & Dow

It is a never-ending quest that consumes many homeowners: Discover ways to increase the value of their properties. One of the most effective strategies for boosting the value of your home involves enhancing your property’s landscaping. Although you can level sloped land, most landscaping experts such as retaining wall contractors recommend building a retaining wall instead. In addition to representing an affordable home improvement option, a retaining wall also provides several aesthetic and functional benefits.

Let’s review four exciting ways retaining wall contractors improve your landscaping.

Enhance Aesthetic Appeal

Depending on the height and type of materials, building a retaining wall on your property can significantly boost the aesthetic appeal of your home. This is an especially important strategy for enhancing the curb appeal of your property. One of the first things a prospective home buyer notices is the visual appeal of the front yard. Adding an attractive retaining wall in the front yard is an effective, yet affordable strategy to enhance curb appeal, which translates into a higher home value.

Building a retaining wall with an attractive material such as marble can seamlessly blend in with the other features that stand out on your property.

Add Functional Space

Undulating terrain such as mounds and rolling hills can present a beautiful appearance. However, undulating terrain also takes up valuable space. From creating a garden to adding more room on a patio, a retaining wall maximizes the space you have on your property. Opening more space by building a retaining wall is a popular way for homeowners to create an outdoor living space where a pergola or gazebo provides shelter for entertaining guests.

A retaining wall can even open up more space for guests to sit during a party.

Flood Control

One of the most disconcerting sights for homeowners to see is watching a torrent of water move through their properties. An excessive amount of rain over a short period can cause considerable flooding, which leads to the nightmare called soil erosion. A team of experienced and knowledgeable retaining wall contractors can build one or more retaining walls to prevent the flooding that causes soil erosion. Retaining walls represent the best strategy to support soil, as well as decrease the speed of moving water.

A team of retaining wall contractors also can help waterproof your property.

Provide Structural Support

A deluge of rain is not the only way to displace the soil on your property. Just the passage of time is enough for soil to become displaced and thus, diminish the structural support provided for your home. As we already emphasized, a retaining wall maintains soil in its place during heavy rainstorms. The same principle applies to dry soil, which increases the structural support of your home to maintain a safe living environment for family members.

Factors to Consider for a Retaining Wall

When you hire a team of retaining contractors, you should consider several factors to ensure the flawless completion of your home improvement project. First, you must decide on the material used to build the retaining wall. Second, you have to choose the right design that blends in perfectly with the appearance of your home. And third, you should determine where you want to build a retaining wall to maximize its functionality.

Mares & Dow

Contact your local skylight contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to transform your home. We have over 37 years of installation and consulting experience.

8 Indications That You Need the Services of Retaining Wall Contractors

8 Indications That You Need the Services of Retaining Wall Contractors - retaining wall contractors - Mares & Dow

Homeowners assume the responsibility for maintaining their properties, from keeping the lawn healthy to ensuring the strength and stability of a fence line. One of the lesser-known types of property maintenance for homeowners concerns retaining walls. A well-constructed retaining wall can prevent flooding and soil erosion. Retaining walls also enhance the visual appeal of a property, which in turn can increase the value of your home.

Let’s review the indications that you need the services of retaining wall contractors.

Maximize Land Use

If you have a sloped area on your property, you probably do not use the sloped area for anything. By installing a retaining wall surrounding a sloped area, you can create a garden or use the extra land to build a patio or another type of outdoor living space such as an outdoor dining area.

High Erosion Risk

If your property includes a large area that runs downhill, you need to find a solution to control soil erosion. One of the most popular reasons why homeowners need the services of retaining wall contractors concerns preventing soil from becoming displaced. A retaining wall prevents soil from becoming overly saturated, which helps keep it intact throughout the worst weather.

Controlling Rainwater

Homeowners should devise a plan to control rainwater to prevent it from entering areas of the home such as the basement and family room. Using the services of retaining wall contractors can divert rainwater from your home to other areas of your property. A retaining wall that diverts rainwater directly to a drainage system represents the ideal solution for controlling rainwater.

This is an especially important benefit if you live in a flood-prone area.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Like other types of home amenities, retaining walls have a limited lifespan. Prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions eventually causes irrevocable damage to a retaining wall. A team of retaining wall contractors inspects your retaining wall to check for issues such as water leaks, disconnected bricks, and a large slippage of a wall.

Increase the Value of Your Property

Adding a retaining wall delivers as much visual appeal as it delivers functional appeal. Hiring a team of retaining wall contractors allows you to choose among different designs such as concrete, timber, and natural stone walls. Enhancing the visual appeal of your property should increase the value of your home. The functional benefits of a retaining wall also contribute to an increase in home value.

Protect Your Home’s Foundation

Soil erosion might be the least of your worries. If the foundation of your home is constantly exposed to water runoff, it might develop cracks that eventually compromise the entire structure. Gaps in the soil caused by erosion are another cause of weakening a home’s foundation. Hiring a team of foundation construction professionals ensures you maintain a highly stable foundation.

Divide Uneven Land

If your property includes several different tiers, installing multiple retaining walls allows you to create more usable spaces. Dividing uneven land into separate sections can help you build a tennis or basketball court on one terrace, while using a second terrace to create a garden to grow fruits and vegetables.

Neighbors Complain

Soil erosion and rainwater runoff do not have to impact your property directly. Both types of property issues can negatively impact the properties of your neighbors. If you hear your neighbors starting to complain about soil erosion and rainwater runoff, the time might have arrived for the services of retaining wall contractors.

Mares & Dow

Contact your local skylight contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to transform your home. We have over 37 years of installation and consulting experience.

4 Great Ways That Retaining Wall Contractors Can Create More Usable Space

4 Great Ways That Retaining Wall Contractors Can Create More Usable Space - retaining wall contractors - Mares & Dow

Enhancing the appearance of the landscaping on your property improves the curb appeal of your home, which in turn can substantially increase the value of your property. You have many options for completing visually appealing landscaping projects, but one project stands out as a highly effective way to get your property to increase in value.

We are talking about hiring an experienced and highly-rated team of retaining wall contractors to create hardscape platforms that create more usable space on your property.

Overview of Retaining Walls

As a landscape feature consisting of a combination of bricks, large rocks, and/or concrete blocks, a retaining wall contains soil in a designated area of your property to prevent erosion. Although retaining walls serve mostly functional purposes, creating one or more on your property also can boost the aesthetic appeal of your home. Considered one of the more affordable types of home improvement projects, creating a retaining wall can help you create more usable space.

One of the reasons why some spaces on a property are not usable concerns soil erosion, especially for parcels of land that slope downward toward your home. A retaining wall contains soil to prevent erosion, which opens up more space in four different ways.


You can create a considerable amount of usable space with retaining walls by creating terraces. A series of strategically installed retaining walls present a visually appealing textured effect, as well as provide you with more landscaping space to work with for other home remodeling projects.

Terraces do a great job of highlighting outdoor features, such as a deck and garden.


Developing a flower garden is one of the most popular home improvement projects. However, developing a beautiful flower garden can be difficult to do if your yard experiences erosion because of the sloping contour of at least a part of your front or backyard. Installing a retaining wall that provides the boundary for a garden prevents the soil from eroding in the garden. What was once an unusable space on your property can increase the value of your house.

Outdoor Living Space

Entertaining friends and family members is one of the ways to benefit from a spacious backyard. Nonetheless, creating an outdoor living space such as a patio might be difficult to do if your property slopes enough to cause considerable flooding and soil erosion. Adding a retaining wall that surrounds a large space allows you to create an outdoor living space. You can locate your outdoor living space in the middle of your backyard covered by a stylish pergola or build it next to the back door for easy access to the kitchen.


A walkway serves two purposes: Functionality and aesthetic appeal. You cannot reap the benefits delivered by either purpose if the soil where you want to build a walkway erodes or the area constantly floods even after light rain has fallen. Installing a retaining wall on both sides of a walkway serves the functional purpose to prevent flooding and the aesthetic appeal purpose of allowing you to add lights and other attractive features.

Retaining walls enhance both the functionality and visual appeal of a property, which is apparent in the four great ways that retaining wall contractors can create more usable space.

Mares & Dow

Contact your local skylight contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to transform your home. We have over 37 years of installation and consulting experience.

5 Things to Look For in Well-Qualified Retaining Wall Contractors

5 Things to Look For in Well-Qualified Retaining Wall Contractors - retaining wall contractors - Mares & Dow

Building a retaining wall on your property delivers several benefits, such as preventing erosion of soil and maximizing the space set aside for a garden or outdoor kitchen. Retaining walls represent highly functional additions to most residential properties, as well as provide an eco-friendly way to increase the value of a home. If you understand the advantages provided by adding a retaining wall, now is the time to contact one of the best retaining wall contractors.

What do you look for in well-qualified retaining wall contractors? Is it all about responsive communication or the quality of a project? Do references matter when it comes to vetting contractor prospects or does the content written into the construction contract take precedence over every other hiring factor? What about professional credentials, such as licenses and certifications.?

When it comes to searching for the most qualified retaining wall contractor, each of the five factors just listed matters for you to make the most informed decision about the future of your property’s landscape.

Professional Credentials

You can receive the most affordable bid and like everything written into a construction contract and still walk away from a potential contractor because of the lack of proper licensing. Before you consider every other factor when interviewing retaining wall contractors, each one on your shortlist must have the proper credentials to operate in your community. After you verify meeting proper licensing requirements, take professional credentials to the next level by asking about certifications.

Client Feedback

Reading client testimonials on a contractor’s website provides you with some insight into skill level, but you also should read the unsolicited feedback found on review sites like Yelp and Google. You should learn about the quality of the work completed by a contractor, as well as the professionalism that defines the work of each trade specialist. Look at client reviews as a form of word-of-mouth advertising coming from people you most likely do not know.

Quality of Work

The completion of a retaining wall project should achieve every goal you established before the project began. Your new retaining wall should enhance the visual appeal of your property, as well as contain the highest-grade materials that do not succumb to the long-term damage done by exposure to moisture. If you experience foundation problems, building a high-quality retaining wall can fix the problems.

If it comes down to choosing a contractor that produces the highest quality of work or a contractor that offers the most affordable price, quality should win over price every time.

What is in the Contract?

The construction contract represents the formal legal document that defines every parameter of the project. It should include a timeline for completing phases of the project, as well as a detailed description of what the contractor plans to do when building a retaining wall. The contract should explain whether the project is part of a home remodel or a standalone project that does not involve any other activity. Terms of the contract include price, as well as how the contractor expects to get paid.

Responsive Communicator

One of the most frequent factors that derail residential construction projects concerns poor communication. Before the first brick is set, you and the contractor should agree to establish how to communicate with each other. You can ask for daily or weekly status reports, depending on how often you want to be informed about the status of your retaining wall project. The key to developing responsive communication is for both parties to return emails, phone calls, and text messages as quickly as possible.

Mares & Dow

Contact your local skylight contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to transform your home. We have over 37 years of installation and consulting experience.

What are Wood Retaining Walls?

What are Wood Retaining Walls - retaining wall contractors - Mares & Dow

Building a wood retaining wall represents one of the most impactful home remodeling projects that increases the value of your property. As long as you hire one of the best retaining wall contractors, you should benefit from a visually appealing addition to your property that also delivers exceptional functional value.

A wood retaining wall reshapes the slopes on your property to develop level areas for decks, gardens, driveways, and play areas. Wood is an especially helpful material for a retaining wall to prevent soil and vegetation from moving up to your house.

Using masonry blocks or even a thick type of timber can make a retaining wall project difficult because of the heavy materials. If you want to build a retaining wall that is not relatively tall, you can use lighter, pressure-treated timber.

What Are the Benefits of Building a Wood Retaining Wall?

In addition to increasing the value of your house as part of a home remodeling project, adding a wood retaining wall delivers several other benefits


Because wood is a 100 percent natural product, it is more affordable than other types of materials used to construct a retaining wall for a residential project. Another cost-effective benefit is you can paint and repaint timber if you want to change the color and design of a retaining wall.

Rugged Durability

If you properly treat and maintain wood, building a retaining wall with timber can provide you with a home improvement project that can last more than 20 years. With a lifespan extending more than two decades, you do not have to rebuild as much, which is another cost-effective benefit of constructing a wood retaining wall.

Prevents Erosion

The primary purpose of building a retaining wall is to maintain the slopes on your property. A wood retaining wall is highly effective at keeping slopes in place, which keeps your lawn looking visually appealing throughout the year. You do not have to take special measures to prevent your soil and garden from washing away.

The Level Effect

If you have one or more of your lawn that is not useful for any reason, constructing a retaining wall can transform an unused section of your property into a garden or play area. The leveling effect of a wood retaining wall increases the value of your property because you create more usable space.

Faster Construction

If you choose lighter timber, you benefit from completing a wood retaining wall project faster than if you use heavier materials. Even with heavy wood, you do not have to mix mortar or concrete. Using lighter wood allows you to build a shorter than average retaining wall that saves you time during construction.

Rustic Charm

With wood and the treated timber sleepers used to construct a retaining wall, you create a charming, rustic ambiance that makes your property stand out in the neighborhood. Building a wood retaining wall produces a home remodeling project that adds decorative panache to your property.

Before you start a wood retaining wall project, discuss it with one of our home remodeling experts to ensure you use the right materials. You have the option of using timbers, railroad ties, post and panel wood, pressure-treated wood, and possibly a combination of the materials.

Mares & Dow

Contact your local skylight contractors at Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to transform your home. We have over 40 years of installation and consulting experience.

Landscape Hack: How to Grow Your Garden with Retaining Walls


These days, you might find yourself staying at home for longer stretches of time. If you’re bored of the indoors, but sitting in your yard isn’t appealing either, your landscape might need freshening up.

A simple way to transform your yard is to grow your garden in new ways. You might think that’s too basic of a change, but what if you added depth to your garden by incorporating a retaining wall? Retaining walls can free up valuable gardening space at and above ground level. If you don’t already have a wall, retaining wall contractors can install one to create a tiered landscape for you to decorate.

Drape Plants Over the Wall

You can drape retaining walls with cascading plants, such as deer grass. Its long-arching plumes will drape over the wall in the summer, partially obscuring it for a peek-a-boo effect. 

If you want your plants to waterfall over the wall, consider plants with long stems, such as Silver Falls. It’s also hardy and can tolerate both full sun and partial shade. Golden Creepy Jenny tolerates similar sun levels and is a great choice if you’re charmed by gardens with a touch of wild growth, but don’t underestimate its ability to spread. You can mitigate its growth by maintaining dry soil around it.

Grow Plants Up the Wall

If you want plants to climb the retaining wall and soften its appearance, plant evergreen vines like Creeping Fig at the base of the wall. Keep in mind that climbing plants can cause rot in wooden walls by blocking out the sun during rainy seasons, so they are best for studier materials like brick and stone.

You can also direct your vine growth by anchoring a trellis to your brick or stone wall, or anchoring a freestanding trellis in front of the wall. If you’re uncertain about whether your wall can support an anchored trellis or if it needs repairs, contact retaining wall contractors for assistance.

Layer Plants On Top of the Wall

Turn your retaining wall into the foundation of a multi-layered garden by coordinating cascading or climbing plants with hedges, bushes, and flowers. You can top off a wall with a double hedge, growing the shorter hedge in the front. If you have room, you can grow flowers or cascading plants in front of the shorter hedge.

While plotting out your layered garden, consider the following:

  • Plant theme – Do you want your plants to have complementary or contrasting colors?
  • Seasons – Do you want an evergreen or seasonal garden? Fine Gardening recommends using evergreen plants as a focal point, and purposefully growing perennial and annual plants low.
  • Scale and Size – How do you want your plants to play against each other? Try not to outline your garden with taller plants, or you’ll obscure the plants within.

If you’re ready to grow your garden with a retaining wall, contact Mares & Dow Construction and Skylights today to discuss how to turn your dream into reality!

How Long Do Retaining Walls Last?

retaining wall - Mares Dow

Retaining walls, when properly designed, built from durable materials, and maintained appropriately can last quite a long time. Consider the Great Wall of China or the Hoover Dam – while it may seem a stretch to talk about these artifacts of history in the same breath as your local home remodeling contractors, these structures are fundamentally similar to and the monumental ancestors of your common backyard retaining wall. When it comes to building a lasting structure, there are several elements to factor into your project plan. 

Proper design is key

Retaining walls have seven basic components: The wall itself, drainage stone, filter fabric, batter, weep hole, footing, footing drain. How these components are designed to all work together with the unique conditions of the retaining wall site is a big predictor of how long the retaining wall will last. For example, if the batter of the wall, or the backward lean of the wall toward the earth it is retaining, is not sufficient for the wall height, the structure will not last as long as it could. Eventually, the wall will break down under pressures it wasn’t successfully engineered to withstand. Simple miscalculations in the design can have a far reaching impact, which is something retaining wall contractors can help you to avoid. 

Durable materials make walls last a lifetime

As you can imagine, the material you use to construct your retaining wall has a huge influence on the structure’s longevity. Walls made of timber, for example, will not last as long as walls made of masonry. Timber retaining walls can last up to 40 years if the wood is high quality, while masonry walls if properly designed and installed, can last until someone decides to tear them down. Concrete block or poured concrete retaining walls are particularly long-lasting, as concrete is known for its strength and durability. In the end, it is up to you to decide how permanent you want your retaining wall to be. 

Good maintenance covers the rest of your bases

In themselves, retaining walls are fairly low-maintenance structures but doing what little upkeep is required can ensure the structure lasts. It is important to regularly inspect your wall to make sure groundwater is draining properly from the footing drain, weep holes are unobstructed, and the filter fabric isn’t damaged. Additionally, even the best retaining walls can be compromised by harsh changes in environmental conditions, such as soil erosion or extreme seismic or weather events. In these circumstances, you can work with a professional to identify and repair any damage. 

Mares & Dow Construction & Skylights has been serving the Bay Area since 1983.  Our general contractors are home remodeling experts and enjoy working with homeowners as they start the process with their next project.  Contact us today to get started on your home remodel!

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