Building a Retaining Wall: What You Need to Know

Looking to add a retaining wall to your property? Retaining walls can serve multiple functional purposes, such as slowing down erosion and marking a property line. When well-constructed, one can even add beauty and interest to your outdoor landscape. Retaining walls also have a rich history dating back to ancient Egypt, where they were constructed to divert water from the Nile River into nearby reservoirs for farming purposes.

Before you get started with your retaining wall project, there are some things you should know about selecting the right materials, refining your wall design, and possibly hiring a professional to construct the wall itself.

Choosing the Right Stone and Cut

There are many material options available for retaining walls, ranging from interlocking concrete wall systems to natural stone. If you’re looking for the most natural-looking and durable material, you can’t go wrong with natural stone. Combining the color and cut of a natural wallstone with the skill and artistry of a talented mason will yield a unique and one-of-a-kind look.

While building a retaining wall out of interlocking concrete blocks may be easier and less expensive than natural stone, the reality is that natural stone will yield a more organic and aesthetically pleasing result. And when used properly, natural stone cuts can provide a lot of added structural stability to a retaining wall.

Materials Needed

In addition to your stone building material, some other supplies will be needed before you begin your retaining wall project. This includes:

  • Splitting tools
  • A hammer/chisel to work or shape stone as needed
  • A brick hammer for working with smaller stone
  • A string line to attain a level surface
  • A wooden batter to achieve proper angles and slopes

DIY or Hire a Professional?

With all this in mind, you may be wondering whether a retaining wall project is something you can tackle yourself or if you’d be better off hiring a professional. At the end of the day, this will really depend on your level of comfort and experience in working with stone and the supplies listed above. You should also consider the value of your time; while you will certainly save some money in labor costs by building your own retaining wall, this type of project will likely take several days (if not more) to complete.

There are many reasons to consider hiring a professional to build your retaining wall. If your wall is high (five to six feet or larger), a mason’s knowledge and experience is recommended. In addition, a mason knows that incorporating larger pieces of stone can give the wall greater stability. Handling large pieces of natural stone can be cumbersome and dangerous and is best left to a professional.

Creating More Charm and Elegance

When designing a retaining wall that will add charm and beauty to your property, there are a few tips to keep in mind as well. This begins with simply selecting the right stone for your property. Some stone types, for example, will yield a more modern and contemporary look — whereas others will appear more rustic and natural. Think about the types of stone you may already have inside your home or elsewhere on your property. For continuity’s sake, you might consider using the same kind or something similar.

If you’re looking to achieve a more natural and rugged look, consider a stone that will grow moss on it over time such as our Country Weathered Fieldstone. You’ll also want to think about the fact that stone tends to look better as it ages; the same typically cannot be said for concrete or brick. Some homeowners will also add character to a stone retaining wall by incorporating boulders into the design for a one-of-a-kind look.

The Bottom Line on Retaining Walls

Every retaining wall project is unique, and the process may not be the same for every project. From selecting the materials that are best suited for your needs and budget to deciding whether to hire a professional, there’s a lot to keep in mind as you prepare for your new retaining wall. If you decide to move forward with a beautiful natural stone retaining wall, our team at Connecticut Stone would be happy to help you select a stone that will transform your property into its own oasis. Contact us today to find out more or schedule a showroom appointment!

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