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Water is a way of life in coastal Alabama – and it doesn’t always stay at the beach. Between summer storms, seasonal showers, and the annual hurricane season, our local properties experience above-average amounts of rain and wind throughout the year. As a result, soil erosion is a common challenge in our region, creating major problems for property owners across the area.
Luckily, retaining walls provide a simple, cost-effective solution to soil erosion. When constructed properly, retaining walls can protect your property from problems caused by displaced soil while also adding an attractive feature to your outdoor space.
If you’ve never considered installing a retaining wall in your landscape, here’s everything you need to know.
WHAT IS A RETAINING WALL?
A retaining wall is a rigid, freestanding structure designed to keep soil and rocks in their proper place. They’re commonly installed in areas where the earth is steeply sloped and extra support is needed to prevent the soil from washing downhill.
Retaining walls are typically constructed out of concrete or stone, though they can be made with a variety of materials. They can range in size from a few inches to several feet. There are four main types of retaining walls:
- Gravity Retaining Walls use their own weight and the natural force of gravity to secure the soil in place. They are often made with heavy materials like stone or large concrete blocks that interlock and lean back against the slope to resist soil pressure.
- Sheet Piling Walls are constructed by driving a thin, precast sheet of corrugated steel, vinyl, wood, or aluminium directly into the ground. These are a good solution if your landscape has soft soil or tight spaces.
- Cantilevered Retaining Walls have additional reinforcement in the form of a concrete base that slides underneath the soil to create leverage. They’re often built in an inverted-T shape and made of solid slabs of concrete that are reinforced with steel.
- Anchored Retaining Walls can be constructed in any of the above-mentioned styles, but they have additional support in the form of tiebacks that are driven into the soil behind them. These walls are typically used to reinforce thinner, lighter designs or when you need to support a high amount of soil pressure.
WHY WOULD YOU NEED A RETAINING WALL?
TO PREVENT SOIL EROSION
Most retaining walls are built as a solution to soil erosion. If your property is at the top or bottom of a slope, even small amounts of rain and wind will slowly erode the soil. Over time, soil displacement can block drainage systems, weaken your home’s foundation, and make it difficult to maintain an attractive landscape.
TO LIMIT FLOOD DAMAGE
Our local residents are all too familiar with flooding. During the rainy season, daily storms and dangerous hurricanes create a very real threat of rising water for homes and businesses across our area. Retaining walls can reduce the risk of flood damage by creating a barrier that resists rushing water and directs the flow away from your property. On a smaller scale, retaining walls also correct drainage issues that cause water to pool in low-lying areas around your property.
TO MAKE YOUR SPACE MORE FUNCTIONAL
Landscapes that are steeply sloped have limited functionality. Retaining walls can help create level surfaces that bring more use to your outdoor spaces, allowing you to install gardens, patios, outdoor seating, and more.
TO ADD BEAUTY
Retaining walls aren’t merely functional – they can also add dimension and beauty to your outdoor space. You can design your wall with attractive materials like decorative concrete, brick, or stone to add a pop of personality to your landscape. Retaining walls can also create fabulous focal points with dramatic features like stairs, columns, and curves.
LET CHAD’S LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT CONSTRUCT YOUR RETAINING WALL
Because retaining walls must withstand a great deal of pressure, it’s best to leave building them to the pros. Chad’s Landscape Management is experienced in constructing all types of retaining walls to keep your landscape functional while making it even more fabulous. If you think you may benefit from a retaining wall, contact us today for a quote!