One of the most common items homeowners ask us to quote is retaining walls. These functional and attractive landscaping staples can really transform an area. But are they necessary? This depends on the steepness of the slope and how you intend to use the space. For example, do you need a flat space for a seating area or a level lawn for playing family games? Retaining walls can be the difference between an unusable yard and one that extends your living area into the outdoors. However, retaining walls are also one of the most expensive items in a landscape installation.

We believe in “value engineering” projects for our clients, offering recommendations to improve functionality and add beauty while saving costs for our clients where we can.  Sometimes clients want to update the look of their homes and assume a retaining wall is the best way to make a statement and add curb appeal to a front slope. Often, however, we can create the same impact with artfully placed boulders and plantings for a fraction of the cost a retaining wall would add. Sometimes erosion is the primary concern for clients and they assume a retaining wall is a necessary addition for slope stability, but if a slope has a ratio of 2:1 or less (two horizontal feet for every one foot in height), no walls are needed. This is the maximum ratio for a naturally stable slope. A better way to reduce erosion is to plant the slope with a variety of trees, shrubs, grasses, and groundcovers of varying heights. This height variation typically means an assortment of root depths as well, and together these plantings absorb rainfall, reduce run-off, and protect the slope. An added bonus is the enhanced curb appeal a thoughtful plant arrangement will bring.

If the slope is steeper than 2:1, for example, 18 inches up for every one foot across, then the slope is not stable and could be at risk of collapse. We can help determine what height of wall will best suit your needs. Will a two-foot-tall wall solve the stability issue, or does the wall need to be the maximum height of four feet? Can we install an 18-inch wall that can then double as a seat wall for dual functionality? These are all considerations our educated team carefully considers to deliver the best solutions to meet your functional needs, aesthetics, and budget.

If you need some professional assistance with a retaining wall project, contact us to see how we can help.