Retaining Walls – Beauty and Function

Previously, we talked about the importance of hardscaping and how it can help transform your Bergen County yard from a simple lawn with shrubs and trees into a beautiful, fully designed, landscape that will be the envy of the neighborhood. Features like patios, walkways, and driveways often draw the most attention, but there is one feature of a yard that combines function and form in a unique way. We’re talking, of course, about the retaining wall. Retaining walls are important protective features of a yard that also provides a fresh look to your landscape.

What are Retaining Walls Used for?

Nature can be uneven and unpredictable sometimes and nowhere is this more apparent than in Bergen County yards. You might want a flat surface where a hill is and other times you might want a hill where a flat surface is. You can take control of your yard with retaining walls to create the perfect landscape for your preference. Using retaining walls, you can turn a hill into a multi-level area, level out your yard, or create a raised or sunken-in patio or garden. The main purpose of a retaining wall is to hold soil in place to prevent erosion and flooding but it can also act primarily as a beautiful part of the design of a yard.

Retaining Wall Materials

There are many types of material you can choose for a retaining wall in your yard and each has their advantages and disadvantages. The experts at Borst Landscape and Design have over 25 years of experience building retaining walls and can help you choose which material is right for you. Available to choose from are timber, interlocking blocks, stone, brick, and concrete. Timber will be the least expensive option but it can also suffer from cracking and rot if it does not have proper drainage. At Borst, we prevent this type of damage by building all of our walls below grade and backing them with gravel, layering them with filter fabric and installing drainage pipe. This provides proper drainage and protects the wall material from water erosion. It also prevents bowing and bulging, which prolongs the life of the wall. When we construct a “dry-laid” wall (with Pennsylvania Field Stone, for example), we add the extra step of mortaring the very top course to hold the structure in place. Borst can help you determine which material is right for your retaining wall based on your yard’s unique specifications and needs as well as your personal style preference.

Properly Draining a Retaining Wall

One of the worst things you can do for a retaining wall is allow groundwater to build up behind it. Mortared brick and stone walls should have weep holes along the base to allow water to pass through. Loose stone walls already have openings between the stones and therefore do not need separate holes for drainage.

It might also be a good idea to have a drain line installed behind the retaining wall, especially with the amount of rain Bergen County gets in the spring. This drain line would consist of a gravel base with a pipe that carries water away. This drainage method would prevent water from building up in the soil and causing a retaining wall to bulge or collapse. A landscape design expert can determine what type of drainage you will need for your retaining wall.

If you’re interested in learning more about retaining walls and how they might be a potential solution for your yard, contact us at Borst Landscape and Design. We have over 25 years of experience designing and constructing retaining walls for Bergen County, NJ homeowners. Contact us online or call us at 201-785-9400 today.