retaining wall

The Importance of Proper Maintenance for Your Retaining Wall

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Megan Dougherty

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Landscape & Hardscape Design

Kat Abreu

Homeowners will spend between $10,000 to over $25,000 on a complete landscape remodel, and it’s easy to see why. The lavish lawn of your dreams is great for your recreation time, mental health, and home value.

But what if your yard areas aren’t flat and smooth? Retaining walls are a great addition to any lawn, and are particularly beneficial for properties with slopes, hills, and uneven areas. These simple walls allow landscapers to turn a patchwork of lawn levels into one cohesive design.

Are you wondering if a retaining wall install is right for you? What kind of maintenance will help existing walls last longer? Our guide is here to provide all your retaining wall-related answers.

The Benefits of a Retaining Wall

Retaining walls help smooth out homeowner anxiety and hilly lawns. They’re used to support soil along the sides of uneven ground.

There are many great perks to retaining walls on your property. These include:

  • Improve drainage
  • Lessen flooding
  • Reduce soil erosion
  • Enhance landscaping
  • Protect other structures
  • Increase property value

Some gains outweigh others depending on where you live. Every homeowner can use retaining walls to some benefit, however.

Improve Drainage

Retaining walls can keep runoff water from pooling near your foundation and other important areas. You can also pair retaining walls easily with runoff systems like French drains.

Lessen Flooding

Retaining walls can also redirect flood water and storm surges. If you live in a moderately hilly area like San Diego, retaining walls are vital to your peace of mind.

Reduce Soil Erosion

One of the biggest benefits of retaining walls is soil erosion prevention. Without a solid wall in place, even a slightly sloped surface will quickly lose soil to displacement.

Enhance Landscaping

Slopes and hills can be a nightmare for landscaping design. Fortunately, retaining walls add to both the form and function of your lawn.

Protect Other Structures

Retaining walls can help prevent drainage, erosion, and flooding issues around important structures. This includes your foundation, paved patios and driveways, and add-ons like sheds and greenhouses.

Increase Property Values

All these perks add up to increased property values. No more soggy sinkholes and eroded slopes dragging your home equity down!

Retaining Wall Installation

Proper retaining wall installation will save you many high-cost headaches down the road. These walls may look simple, but they still need expert engineering and construction.

Improper installation includes:

  • Shoddy materials
  • Poor building methods
  • Improper placement
  • Weak or loose foundations
  • Inefficient drainage
  • Loose sod or topsoil

If you want to add retaining walls to your landscape design, it’s best to consult with a landscape architect first. Some architects may even offer hardscaping services, so they can design and build for you in one go.

Retaining Wall Maintenance

Your retaining wall works hard for you, preventing water and soil issues from ruining your luscious landscape. All it asks for is a little regular maintenance in return.

Short-term maintenance helps prevent little problems from turning into big repairs. This includes keeping an eye on:

  • Weed control
  • Pest control
  • Low spots
  • Proper drainage
  • Grading correction
  • Topsoil replacement

Weed Control

Weeds will grow out of the tiniest crack if given a chance. Your retaining wall is especially vulnerable to weed roots if it’s made from looser stone or bricks with gaps and cracks.

Pest Control

Likewise, wooden retaining walls are susceptible to chewing by termites and rodents. Retaining walls can also promote infestations by providing a nice nesting spot for pests like rats, mice, ants, and roaches.

Low Spots

Some soil settlement is inevitable. This can create low spots around your retaining wall that are difficult to drain. The added weight and stress can cause your retaining wall to crack or bulge.

Proper Drainage

Improper drainage from other issues can also cause retaining walls to bulge, crack, or even fail. Periodic inspections can help you keep an eye on any potential drainage problems, especially after storms and long periods of rainfall.

Grading Correction

The earth is never really standing still, even though it looks static to us. Soil settles, erodes, expands, and shifts over time. You may have to periodically redo your lawn grading to account for these changes.

Topsoil Replacement

The top of a retaining wall is generally held together with sod, pavement, or some other hard ground covering. If areas become bare or cracked, it can leave your retaining wall vulnerable to water and erosion.

Retaining Wall Repair

It’s normal for your retaining wall to eventually feel the effects of weather, wear, and tear. Some materials last longer than others. For example, a reinforced concrete wall will last much longer than a wooden wall.

If you notice small holes, gaps, and cracks along your wall, you can generally fill or patch them easily on your own. Larger repairs will probably require a pro, however.

These include:

  • Bulges
  • Buckling
  • Large continuous cracks
  • Missing gaps
  • Collapsed areas
  • Leaning or tilting
  • Bowing

If the damage is severe, it may be more cost and time effective to remove the retaining wall and replace it. Your pro repair or remodel team can help you weigh your options.

Removing and Replacing a Retaining Wall

Removing a retaining wall may seem easy at first glance. But it should only be done under the careful guidance of a professional. 

Once the wall is removed, all the soil it was holding back is suddenly free of constraints. One moderate rainstorm in between removal and replacement is all you need for a landscaping disaster.

Removing and replacing walls also involves major construction and engineering, even more so than installing one from scratch. Materials like concrete, stone, and masonry have to be broken up into chunks and removed before the replacement can even begin.

Skip the disaster potential and hire the pros instead- your lawn and stress levels will thank you!

Looking For the Best Landscaping Remodel Teams Near You?

Retaining walls come with numerous benefits, and can last many years with proper maintenance. Major repairs, replacements, and removal are best left to the experts, however.

Are you searching for top-grade landscaping remodel services? Our team has over 35 years of experience and is committed to the highest quality of customer service and workmanship. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a free consultation!

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