November 14, 2012
Landscaping is more than decorating with plants. Outdoor spaces have many purposes besides just flattering your home. A good landscape designer looks at day-to-day practicality as well as beauty. Traffic flow, parking, protection from weather, drainage, handicapped access, privacy, and maintainability are all priorities in a good landscape design.
Hardscaping is the part of your landscape that isn’t live plants. Walks, patios, decks, retaining walls, pergolas, and fences are examples of hardscaping. Very often, hardscaping is the first step in successful landscaping. Hardscaping can give shape and personality to outdoor spaces, while solving problems and taking care of practical issues. Simply surrounding your home with plants often won’t make a successful landscape by itself.
Some homes present huge challenges because of their unique site requirements, particularly in areas where there’s not much flat ground. Simply getting to the entrance of some homes can involve climbing lots of steps. Storm water management is a big problem on hilly sites. Making flat areas for outdoor living or parking can be difficult. In these cases, retaining walls might be the first landscape feature you need to install.
Understanding wall engineering is an important part of landscape design. There are many types of retaining walls, and each one has strengths and weaknesses. Simple garden walls can be handled by homeowners as weekend projects, for a modest cost. Bigger challenges might require expert assistance. One big consideration is the tradeoff between beauty and functionality.
Home builders often install concrete retaining walls in new construction without much thought to how well these features fit into the landscape. In other cases, homes are built into hillsides with unsightly embankments, making it very hard to create a beautiful vista. Convenient parking and turnarounds are hard to fit on hilly terrain. Retaining walls can solve these and other problems while adding character and making the landscape easier to maintain.
Another practical benefit of retaining walls is keeping landscape beds and lawns apart, making maintenance easier. Retaining walls create raised beds, much healthier for plants. If the walls are made of concrete instead of wood and properly installed they will last for decades longer. Graceful design can make wall projects very attractive, increasing your home value.
It’s worth the trouble to find quality wall solutions. There is a wide variety of retaining wall products available, ranging from commodity wall block to natural stone. Each one has benefits and challenges. Picking the right one, designing with beauty and practicality, and installing it properly will all make your project more satisfying and long lasting.
If you have a landscape situation where walls are needed, take the time to find a certified wall builder who has a track record of good design. If you don’t know of someone like that, give us a call or check this link: http://www.goodseedfarm.com/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=articles.view&id=8637
Steve Boehme is the owner of GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located on Old State Route 32 three miles west of Peebles. To e-mail your landscaping questions click “Contact Us” from their website at HYPERLINK “http://www.Goodseedfarm.com” www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.