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In places like Pearland, Sugarland, or Houston, building a retaining wall is becoming ever more popular. Because of this, it is important to know when you should build retaining walls and how to build them.  Let’s start with the first topic:

When Should I Build a Retaining Wall?

The first major purpose of a retaining wall is to fight against gravity.  Many yards in Houston, Sugarland, or Pearland have steep drop-offs or weird forms.  These weird forms can cause the soil of dirt to move downward.  They also allow water to create small run-offs that ruin the landscape.  The primary purpose of a retaining wall, therefore, is to keep those run-offs of dirt and water from happening.

The second major use of a retaining wall is to give you more space in your garden. Gardening is already hard enough. Plants can grown off into the wrong section. Uneven patches of soil or mulch can cause water to move away from some plants. And the territory of which plant is where can get confusing.  A retaining wall creates level ground that makes it easy to keep track of each patch of plants.

How to Build a Retaining Wall

Building a retaining wall after you have decided to do so is a bit more difficult than it seems. Anyone can puts rocks on top of each other to form a wall, but creating a working retainer is not so easy. Here are some steps to help guide the process:

beginnings of retaining wall in Houston area

1. Manage water runoff

Water is the most destructive force in nature.  Over time, it will chip away at the rock and find holes to leak through.  This is important because there is no such thing as perfect rock.  When you stack rocks on top of each other without a way to manage the water, the water will find the imperfections in the rocks and break it down over time. This can lead to the retaining wall not being useful, or worse, eventually falling apart.

Fortunately, water always chooses the path of least resistance. Using small pipes to manage the flow of water can keep your retaining wall mostly free from long-term water damage.

2. Leave room for filler

There should be a few inches between your retaining wall and the top of the soil you want to retain. This gap should be filled in with compacted stones, soil, or sand. This allows drainage to reach the drainage pipes and removes the whole burden from the wall itself.

3. Make sure base is flat and compacted

This may seem like an obvious one. However, you will see many retaining walls with ugly bumps at the top, where one brick comes above another. This is because, when setting the base layer (usually stone, sand or soil), the ground is not perfectly level. BAC recommends using crushed stone or gravel, then sweeping over it to make sure loose bits won’t throw off the entire wall.  These uneven bits not only look ugly, but weaken the wall as well.

4. Step back with each row

In order to beat gravity, our retaining wall has to make use of gravity. By stepping back with each new row, the gravity is pushing the wall against the soil.  In this case, gravity is working on both sides, coming to a standstill.  Building a wall this way also prevents it from toppling over.  In leaning it against the buffer itself, the curve of the wall is pushing down into the soil and not out towards the rest of the yard.

These are just a few steps you can follow to build your own retaining wall with excellence.  For any other questions, feel free to call the pros at BAC Trees.  We’re based in the Pearland, Pasedena, Sugarland, and Houston areas and are able to help with your outdoor needs. In the meantime, have fun with your gardening!

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