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Gardening is not just dealing with plants - it never is. Especially if it involves landscaping, the art of gardening will involve many other elements such as lighting fixtures, patios, stone arrangements, statues, and other of the like. In this article, you will learn about one particular feature used in garden landscaping - retaining walls.
What Is It?
Although it may have many other uses in different industries, the retaining wall in gardening and landscaping is used to permit a change in the elevation of the ground. So one side is lower and the other side is higher and the ground or soil in the upper level is stopped or prevented from collapsing by the retaining wall.
The wall of course can be as tall as a person or as low as only a foot in measure. But in gardening, it is usually not very high. This can provide many possibilities in landscaping and gardening.
Artistic Uses in Landscaping
One common use is the elevation of the shrub borders. So basically, the perimeter of the garden is slightly elevated with the use of retaining walls. This allows for a more prominent backdrop for the plants, trees, and flora that are located in the middle of the garden lot.
Another use is to allow a pathway. For example, walking paths across the garden may be lowered while the parts of the ground that are planted are elevated to make it obvious that walking on them is discouraged or simply to make the features of the
garden more prominent because of the elevation.
Retaining walls may also be used to make elevated small islets. Usually, the shape of the islet is circular although elongated shapes and other forms may also be used. The islet is also usually used to plant trees or as a set for fountains, statues, and/or other special structures that need to be emphasized.
And lastly, perhaps the most sophisticated and most demandingly stylish application of retaining walls is the creation of multiple terraces in a garden. This creates many layers overlapping with each other for a dramatic effect. You will need a real professional to pull this one off.
Different Builds and Structuring
Although the purpose may be the same, retaining walls used for gardening and landscaping means may take different structural forms. The main ones in use are the gravity wall, cantilevered wall, sheet piling wall, and anchored wall.
Starting with the gravity wall, it is perhaps the simplest of the four. The wall itself is made thick, heavy, and with mass. The weight of the wall itself will support the held soil and prevent it from collapsing. It is usually set to be slightly leaning towards the elevated portion to allow better support.
Next is the cantilevered wall. It possesses an L-shaped concrete or steel-reinforced base that is buried beneath the ground surface for greater support. The buried base also turns the sideward pressure of the held soil to take a downward direction instead and thus adding to the strength of the foundation.
Next is the sheet piling wall. It takes less space so it is best used in tighter areas. The main source of support for this one is how deeply burrowed into the ground the wall is which is usually made of steel or planks of wood. On general estimate, 2/3 of the wall is buried and 1/3 is exposed.
And lastly, there is the anchored wall. This can be used in conjunction with the above mentioned structures. Basically, the wall is installed with anchors that hold it in place.
The international building code sets a standard which must be strictly followed when constructing retaining walls. This is in order to ensure quality and prevent collapsing of the wall - the generally accepted rating for safety factor s 1.5.
Ensuring the quality of the materials used is also important. Unless you are only constructing a few inches high of elevation, it is best to hire a professional to do this for you.
One common technique however is the addition of a drainage system. This prevents buildup of water in the elevated side. This is because when water builds up, the weight of the soil will become greater and more pressure will be exerted against the wall.