Tag Archives: retaining wall contractors

Landscape Hack: How to Grow Your Garden with Retaining Walls

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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?

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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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