Landscaping can be a tricky thing. Maybe not so much when you have a flat, blank canvas. But if you’ve got some rolling hills, or even a slight slope, the nature of things (water and earth) means you could be battling issues with erosion time and time again. How do you fix these things? Simple. Build a retaining wall.

Retaining walls are made, primarily, to retain the soil behind them. In such cases with sloped or tapered land, the constant wearing of water as it rolls downhill causes the soil to become loose, making it difficult to grow anything in that area. With a retaining wall, though, the earth becomes supported by a solid structure built to withstand even the toughest weather conditions. But as much as they perform a very necessary job, they also lend their talents to design and flair. So what do you need to know?

How They Work

There are four main types of retaining walls: gravity, cantilevered, sheet piling, and anchored. Some are better for residential use while others appear more common in commercial settings. Your soil type or the amount of space you’ve got to work with also affects which type of retainer is best for your needs. Ultimately, all walls need to be anchored or reinforced properly, and have a clear path for managing water runoff. Faulty water management systems in retaining walls will result in a shorter lifespan/less durability.

Materials To Use

There are a bunch of different types of materials one can use to build and finish out their walls. Your choice in materials will rely mostly on two things: the type of wall you’re erecting and the design choices that already exist in your yard/home. Most walls use a natural source, such as stone or tempered wood, but in some cases, interlocking blocks are a perfect fit. Think about pavers. If you’ve already laid some down for your patio, you could achieve the same look but on a vertical scale. Using the same interlocking technology also makes for a stronger wall, much the way interlocking pavers are better for driveways and handling the load they bear.

What Do You Do With Them?

Since the purpose is to fortify landscaping, making it possible to plant in this new area, what gets planted is really up to you. Think of them as glorified raised flower beds. Whatever flower rocks your world will rock your yard in these heightened spaces. But you don’t have to go for gold with a set of award winning rose bushes in there. You can create a unique and stunning visual with simple grasses or herbs and a lot of levels. Tapering the land while you build up walls adds dimension and allows you to show off the hardscaping material you’ve chosen to use like brick or stone.

Whether you have sloping issues or you simply want to raise the visual stakes of your yard for a little drama, retaining walls are both functional and fashionable in any landscaping design.