A retaining wall has one key purpose: to hold back the earth to provide a level space for entertaining and other outdoor recreation.
While a residential retaining wall has the same function no matter where it’s installed, the type of materials it is made from can vary. At Giant Landscaping, we typically engineer and install retaining walls made from landscape timbers, concrete block or natural stone. To determine which material is best depends on the aesthetics of the yard, our customer’s preference and their budget.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the three most common types of retaining walls and their various benefits:
1. Landscape timber (wood) retaining wall. These are the simplest and quickest type to install, and the price of the materials is pretty reasonable, which makes them a very budget-friendly retaining wall. Weekend warriors who love a good DIY project may be able to tackle a simple wooden retaining wall which can save additional money. There is some environmental concern about landscape timbers that have been pressure-treated or dipped with wood preservatives; these chemicals may leach out into the earth. The lifespan of a wood retaining wall is fairly short; most need to be replaced after about 10 years.
2. Natural stone retaining wall. This type of wall is extremely attractive, with the pieces of fieldstone or granite fitted together like a puzzle. These types of retaining walls tend to be pricier for two reasons: they are labor intensive, and stone work has to considerable waste – about 10 percent or more of the stone is typically unusable.
Thanks to the abundance of natural stone in New Hampshire, the materials needed for stone retaining walls are readily available and they blend right in with the surroundings. Another major bonus of a stone retaining wall is its longevity – we like to joke with our customers that it will probably live longer than they do!
3. Concrete block retaining wall. Also known as a segmented retaining wall (SRW), the wall is composed of modular blocks that are designed expressly for retaining wall construction. While there is a certain level of skill that is necessary for leveling the base of the wall and cutting the blocks, the actual installation is pretty simple. The overall cost of a concrete retaining wall varies depending on the style and color of the blocks that are selected, but this concrete block retaining walls tend price out in between wood and natural stone.
At Giant Landscaping, we feel strongly that retaining walls should not be tackled by most homeowners – mainly because there are some important engineering considerations when retaining soil. In addition to making sure the base is properly compacted, steps must be taken to ensure that there is adequate drainage behind the wall.
If you’ve got a yard that needs to be leveled to give you more usable space, give us a call. Our estimates are always free!