Generally there are two reasons for building a retaining wall on your property, which are to either prevent erosion or simply for landscaping purposes. Regardless of the reason why, this type of structure will invariably add value to your home as well as enhancing the appearance of it. The key is to build the structure appropriately for your needs.
In the past, it was a common practice to use discarded railroad ties stacked horizontally to hold back eroding hillsides. These are rarely used today due to environmental concerns as well as because to build a lasting wall you'll require some engineering on it. Critical to the design is size of the retaining structure needed and drainage conditions. If you're removing a significant volume of earth to widen a garden for example, you may need a piling or anchored wall to support the load behind it.
If stopping erosion is the only reason, you may not need any supporting structure at all. Instead, a wide variety of geosynthetics are available to use in sheets to provide mechanical stabilization of the soil. Layered straps, soil nailing and other techniques also work well depending upon the scope of the problem and the physical size of the project.
One of the most popular types of retaining wall designs incorporates the use of artificial stone to build expansive, yet beautiful structures that rival any botanical garden! These materials allow for flexible designs suited to any size landscaping project and will last for years with very little maintenance. Combined with exterior lighting, stone pathways and a careful selection of plants and flowers, you'll turn your garden into a fantasy land!
Depending upon your own needs and taste, retaining walls can cost a small fortune. Do it yourself projects will usually cost $10 to $15 per square foot, while those installed by a contractor may run double that price. For a typical home garden where there are no structural issues, plan on spending in the neighborhood of about $3,000. The more complex the design, the higher the cost, so budget accordingly.
You may be required to obtain building permits, engineering or architectural drawings and your municipality may want to inspect your work at different stages of construction. Be sure to check zoning regulations in your area as well - different regions have different building codes for retaining walls and may limit your choices. Because you're increasing the value of your home, it may have an impact on your property taxes as well!
Last of all, most home centers provide landscaping design services to help you develop a plan and a budget for building a retaining wall on your property. Take advantage of these free services whenever possible - it will save you time and effort over figuring everything out yourself!
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