What are the benefits of retaining walls, and why should you build them? Although these unique landscapes can improve the beauty of any property, their benefits extend well beyond aesthetics.
For homes on hilly lots, retaining walls create vital foundation support, more functional space, and protection from erosion. Read on to find out more about how retaining walls can transform your property.
The Benefits of Installing Retaining Walls
Retaining walls offer a wide range of benefits, from increased curb appeal to protection for your most valuable investment: your home. Whether creating cultivatable space on severely sloped land or taking steps to prevent damage from stormwater runoff, retaining walls add significant value. Additionally, the American Society of Landscape Architects estimates that investing in landscape improvements like retaining walls can generate up to 15% of additional value for a home.
Better still, retaining walls not only create value, but they actually grow in value over time.
When storms hit sloped properties, water runs downhill. This is called stormwater runoff, and it can create major headaches for homeowners.
Unchecked, stormwater runoff seeps into foundations and creates vulnerabilities in the slab. When water congregates in a concrete foundation, it repeatedly freezes, melts, and refreezes with little opportunity to dry out because it is underground. This creates cracks in the foundation that can force homeowners to make untimely and expensive foundation repairs.
Another one of the benefits of installing a retaining wall is that it protects a home’s foundation by preventing erosion. When rain hits a hill, it slowly flattens it by carrying sediment from the top to the bottom of the hill. This process can take hundreds of years to show, but it can take only a few decades to shift the land enough to cause foundation problems. Once this happens, homeowners can find themselves locked in a losing battle against time and water as their foundations slowly lose structural integrity.
A retaining wall acts as a belt, compressing the earth behind it as tightly as it can. This keeps the ground from shifting too much, and because retaining walls create flat land, they stall the effects of erosion by preventing sediment from moving downhill.
There is another foundational threat retaining walls mitigate: sinkholes. Over time, concentrated, heavy rainfall creates sinkholes. When water soaks deep into the ground, it can degrade the bedrock. If this happens for long enough, sinkholes of any size can emerge, dealing devastating damage to a home, its grounds, and its foundation.
Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may be at a higher risk for sinkholes. Homeowners in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas are especially vulnerable.
This is where retaining walls come in. Retaining walls prevent water from pooling in low areas, which in turn reduces the risk of sinkholes developing in the bedrock and keeps properties safe for decades.
Aesthetic Benefits of Retaining Walls
Retaining walls aren’t just practical. They are eye-catching focal points that add texture and volume to a landscape.
You can use many different types of materials to make retaining walls. Natural stone is a popular choice for its castle-like elegance, but poured concrete is also a trendy option because of its durability and ability to fit easily into modern design languages like Bauhaus and brutalism.
Another of the aesthetic benefits of retaining walls is their ability to transform topography. Retaining walls can take unusable, sloped ground and turn it into beautiful, level earth ready for any use — a blank canvas for homeowners to take advantage of. This adds immense value to a home because it creates flexible, usable square footage.
The newly level spaces retaining walls create can house anything from simple grass yards to elaborate landscape features like gazebos, trees, or flowerbeds. The possibilities are almost limitless.
The Cost of Installing Retaining Walls
While retaining walls add significant value to homes and provide protection from environmental threats to their foundations, building them is not a small endeavor.
Retaining walls vary widely in cost, depending on the materials their materials, how large they are, and how difficult the wall is to install in the landscape.
To install a retaining wall, homeowners will likely pay a landscape architect anywhere between $60 and $175 per hour in addition to the cost of materials.
For materials, natural stone and steel are among the most expensive. However, budget-conscious homeowners have many other options and can opt to use poured concrete or interlocking concrete blocks for maximum cost-efficiency.
If you use interlocking cinderblocks, you can enjoy the benefits of a retaining wall for as little as $2 per block. For a 30-foot long 4-foot high retaining wall, this works out to $540 total. It is a massive undertaking to build retaining walls correctly on your own, but it is possible. If you are looking for maximum savings, DIYing your retaining wall with interlocking concrete blocks is by far the cheapest option.
Other options with varying price points include vinyl, railroad ties, wood planks, bricks, rammed earth, gabion, and I-beams. This gives you a great deal of flexibility when picking your price point and aesthetic. Depending on which materials you choose and the size of your retaining wall, you can expect to pay between $3,565 and $9,645, including the cost of a landscape architect’s time.
Are the Benefits of Retaining Walls Worth It?
In our professional opinion, if you live on a sloped lot, the benefits of retaining walls are well worth their cost. Avoiding costly foundation repairs in the future and adding value to your property with a beautiful landscape fixture is a no-brainer for anyone intending to own a home for a long time.
If you are still on the fence about building a retaining wall, we can help you make your decision. Since 2009, our team at Charlestown Landscaping LLC has provided our clients with pristine, high-quality landscaping services.
For the best landscaping experience in Malvern, PA, call our Charlestown Landscaping experts at (610) 608-3965.
Charlestown Landscaping LLC
3017 Phoenixville Pike
Malvern, PA 19355
Phone: (610) 608-3965
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