Unfortunately, not every home in Vancouver was constructed on a perfectly level lot. Our hilly terrain and slopes create a challenge for both maintaining and preserving the soil. It’s also difficult to design a landscaping plan for the slopes and slants, and the effort to maintain an even supply of water pretty much anywhere in Vancouver is an ongoing struggle. One such suggestion to counter these challenges is using a retaining wall.
A retaining wall is simply a structure built up against the earth to hold back the soil and create a level space of ground for flower or garden beds or a yard area. Could a retaining wall be the solution for your home? It’s important to understand how the retaining wall works to determine if it would accomplish the goal held by the homeowner.
The primary focus of a retaining is wall is to a create a vertical barrier that the soil can sit against. It is used on properties where additional support is needed to prevent the ground from being washed away. In other words, a retaining wall keeps large quantities of the earth from being removed from the grounds.
Another indication a retaining wall might be required has to do with water drainage. On one hand, a sloped property has the problem of all the water following the slope to the most downhill portion of the property. This creates a problem of lost water in the uppermost areas and flooding in the lower areas.
But a retaining wall is no small project. Construction of a wall requires a specific skill set and understanding of the potential pitfalls. Consider the pros and cons to help you decide if a retaining wall could benefit the layout of your property.
The Pros and Cons
As mentioned, a retaining wall is not a quick and easy project. When weighing the risks and benefits of constructing a retaining wall, weigh these considerations to determine if this is an appropriate place for a wall.
All home improvement projects are based on cost vs. benefits decision-making. Here are some of the most notable reasons to add a retaining wall to a property as well as some reasons that may prohibit a wall as an option.
Reasons For A Retaining Wall
Reasons Against Constructing A Retaining Wall
Is It Worth It?
After considering the pros and cons, it comes down to necessity. If you have a soil erosion problem, you are in a race against time to capture the soil and structure a retaining wall to avoid further loss.
If you have unstable soil in a location uphill from your property, there is the possibility that a sudden shifting could send significant amounts of earth further downhill and off of the property or worse yet, into your property.
If your property has any areas that are prone to flooding, a retaining wall could likely help. The wall would provide a method for the precipitation to wash through without carrying out the soil.
Would you like to structure the landscaping into a level beds around the home? If so, a retaining wall can be used to fill in areas where slopes make it difficult to create a uniform landscaping plan.
Which Type And Material?
If you’ve concluded that a retaining wall is necessary, the next issue is which kind of wall and which material to use. Retaining walls are constructed from a variety of materials. If you must make use of a retaining wall, it should complement the overall look of the property. Common choices of materials often include wood, stone, concrete, or brick.
There are factors that are unique to the project location that could limit the options. The type of soil, whether it is heavy or light, could necessitate a specific materials choice. This is because the wall will be holding back the soil and, over time, the pressure of the soil could overwhelm the wall. How tall is the wall expected to be? The retaining wall has to be able to accommodate the angle of the slope. The steeper the slope, the more likely it is that the wall will have to be built to greater heights. Again, this detail can limit the types of materials available. Both of these issues are easily overlooked or miscalculated.
Who Can Help?
This level of home improvement is best left to an experienced hardscape professional. The retaining wall contractor should have years of experience with these types of challenges and a number of ideas to offer as possible solutions. A failed DIY retaining wall can end up causing even more problems. If this happens, the cleanup and the cost to rebuild will be substantially more.
You must consider if you have the time, energy, and expertise to attempt to install a retaining wall yourself. Most property owners will find the answer to that is a resounding no. In that case, working with a retaining wall company like VanCity Retaining Walls might be the best choice in accomplishing the project as we happily serve our customers in Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Richmond.
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