Hardscapes and Retaining Walls
When it comes to your home’s landscaping, both the “hardscaping” (the non-plant additions to your yard, typically constructed of brick, stones or rocks) and “softscaping” (the living parts of your yard, such as grass, shrubs, trees and flowers) are important elements in your overall design. You may already have a good idea of what’s involved in “softscaping,” and the types of softscaping services offered by Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation. But that is only part of what we do. Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation has professionally-trained craftsmen on staff who specialize in “hardscape” construction using stonework and masonry. Hardscaping is something that definitely should be addressed. The plants you select and where you place them is only part of the landscaping equation. The hardscaping, while sometimes an afterthought for homeowners, is equally important. Your hardscaping provides an additional way to add variety and focus to your exterior design. It adds structure to your gardens and plantlife in your backyard. Best of all, with professional assistance, hardscaping can be installed efficiently, quickly and with minimal disruption to your property or lifestyle.
We construct the following types of hardscaping:
- Stacked Stone Walls
- Cross Tie Walls
- Stone or Paver Patios
- Stone or Decking or Walkways
- Pergolas, arbors and gazebos
- Fountains and other water features
- Garden steps and beds
- Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits
- Entryways and stairways leading to or from fire pits
- Outdoor kitchens and dining areas
Any and all of the above hardscaping options can enhance visual appeal, usability and functionality to your property, along with expanding your living space. In this article, we’ll discuss the one type of hardscaping—retaining walls—and why they can be such a wonderful addition to homes in the Atlanta area. Retaining walls—both functional and aesthetically pleasing A retaining wall is a structure that holds back or retains material (usually soil) behind it. Homeowners and business owners choose to construct retaining walls for a variety of practical reasons. Retaining walls can:
- Add terracing and functional support for keeping up to 20 tons of soil in place.
- Eliminate water runoff and flooding due to eroding foundations.
- Prevent sink holes.
- Control erosion of a steep hill or slope.
- Eliminate dirt piles, hills and other eye sores.
- Solve drainage problems.
- Establish distinct areas between different features in the yard and smoothly transition between levels.
- Provide the framework for walkways, stairways or patio divisions.
- Level uneven lawns and direct drainage.
- Create usable garden spaces.
In addition to the very practical reasons for adding a retaining wall, many homeowners have them built simply because of how they look. When engineered and installed correctly, retaining walls can add instant visual flare to any space. They can also add monetary value to your property. Some industry professionals report that hardscaping additions such as retaining walls can up property values by as much as 20 percent. There are a range of different materials available for building retaining walls, including natural stone (such as rocks or boulders), composite blocks and interlocking concrete pavers. The plus for using natural stone is it blends well with your environment and requires very little maintenance. Using composite blocks or interlocking concrete pavers has the advantage that these wall systems do not require mortar and provide a more manicured look. Which material is right for you is largely a matter of personal preference. It’s also true that some materials or techniques will better suit particular types of projects. The team at Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation is always happy to advise you about which materials are best-suited for your yard and your budget.
Probably the number one reason homeowners have retaining walls constructed is to prevent soil erosion. For residents in or around Atlanta, soil erosion can be a major challenge. In big part, this is due to our hilly topography. Hills and slopes are prone to land sliding and erosion. If you live in this area, you may very well have a sloping yard, or even a number of hilly spots to deal with. It’s also no secret that Georgia normally receives a considerable amount of rainfall each year. When you put these two factors together—a hilly terrain and a lot of rainfall—it’s easy to understand why erosion can often be a huge problem in this area. Anytime there’s heavy rainfall (especially the “gully-washers” that we often have in Georgia!) you can have a great deal of surface runoff and erosion. Your topsoil is literally washed away. A retaining wall can provide a barrier to keep your soil in place and prevent mud or small rivulets from coming down the slope and ruining your lower-level landscaping. The stone blocks and other materials used in retaining walls stand up to long-term exposure to water, and act as a drainage regulator to provide proper runoff. Water and mud will be channeled to where they will be less likely to cause damage, and soil won’t be washed away from where you need it. This can mean avoiding erosion that would otherwise cause tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage over time, if left unchecked.
A Professional Wall for a Professional Job
Of course, a retaining wall must be constructed properly if it is going to be effective. One mistake homeowners sometimes make is not hiring a professional landscape architect to design and install their retaining walls. Sure, doing it yourself may save you some money in the short run, but a little further down the road you may have to deal with damage caused by an improperly designed or installed wall. This could cost you far more money than if you had chosen a professionally designed wall in the first place. Properly constructed, your retaining wall is meant to protect your property from erosion for several decades. When you take pride in your home, and want to add to its value, then a professional retaining wall installed by a professional landscape architect is your best bet for a long term investment. If you’re interested in adding a retaining wall or other hardscaping feature to your Atlanta area property, please give Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation a call at (770) 913-9033 to schedule a consultation with one of our hardscaping professionals. We look forward to assisting you with the yard of your dreams!