Last year, researchers at the University of South Australia built and tested a retaining wall made from an unlikely material: old tyres. By filling these tyres with as much earth as they could hold, they found that this unique wall was just as sturdy as concrete or timber sleeper walls. This is good news, given that Australia generates roughly half a million tonnes of tyre waste annually.
Barring upcycling discarded tyres, practical retaining wall ideas aren’t a dime a dozen. Any idea can be good with a clear direction and budget, and a professional on the case. Here are a few of our suggestions for a retaining wall.
- Add more plant beds with tiered walls
If magazine readership is any indication, Australians love gardening. According to a survey by Roy Morgan Research last February, Home & Garden was the country’s third most widely read magazine category, with nearly four million readers in 2022. As such, it won’t be surprising if there’s an increase in demand for garden retaining walls Gold Coast.Here’s a good idea: create space for new plants with a tiered retaining wall design. Building a tall wall isn’t advisable, as it means more surface area for the massed earth to exert its force. Multiple, smaller walls not only diminish the load for each retaining wall but also manage garden space. This is especially true for landscapes on sloped land.
When deciding what plant goes within this tiered system, keep in mind that the runoff drains to the bottom. Landscaping experts advise placing drought-resistant plants at the highest level and water-hungry ones at the lowest level.
- Use retaining walls as an elegant base for trees
It’s reasonable to think that retaining walls and trees don’t mix. Tree roots grow below ground, which poses a risk to the integrity of nearby retaining walls. If the tree is too close, its roots can displace a section of the wall, setting the conditions for bearing failure. Cutting roots isn’t even an option, as that may well kill the tree.Nevertheless, it’s possible to have retaining walls for trees, and the key to this is choosing a tree with slow-growing roots or small root systems. Some examples that can thrive in Australia are Alstonville, Crepe Myrtle, Globosum, and Japanese Maple. The material for building the wall should be robust enough to resist invasive root growth, so consider concrete or stone.
- Turn the capping of retaining walls into outdoor benches
If you can add utility to something aesthetically pleasing, why not? For instance, the capping of a concrete retaining wall is begging to be sat on, so why not turn it into an outdoor bench? Such a design is more common among retaining wall projects than you might think.However, specific dimensions have to be met for this to work. Naturally, the retaining wall must only be high enough to provide comfortable seating. Many designs also limit the backfill level to below the capping and the building material to anything that won’t snag a person’s clothes when they sit down (e.g., natural stone).
- Fences and retaining walls make a good combo
When used as a sturdy base for fences like Colorbond fencing, retaining walls can enhance the property’s beauty and privacy. Considering the Gold Coast’s regulations, the walls can increase the fence’s height by up to two metres, enough to keep prying eyes out. With the right colour, they can also complement the fence and the rest of the landscape.
If you plan to get fencing and a retaining wall, experts highly recommend getting both at the same time. Integrating the fence only after the wall is finished can affect the wall’s integrity. Additionally, never trust any fence—even if it’s as strong as steel—with the retaining wall’s job of holding back massed earth.
When you think about it, retaining walls do more than hold back earth. Smart design makes them assume additional roles ranging from being a beautiful tree base to providing families and guests with a place to lounge outdoors. Don’t hesitate to seize any opportunity to supplement aesthetics with practicality.
As it happens, marrying aesthetics and practicality is a key tenet of Pride Fencescapes’ reputable service. Contact us today.