Retaining walls were originally used to turn slopes into arable land and stop soil erosion dead in its tracks. However, these structures were purely practical and have since been adapted to fulfill an array of other functions. They can also be used to bring order to a flat landscape or save space where bulky furniture might crowd an outdoor room. They are also aesthetically important and can either be made to complement the home, blend into the surrounding hardscape, or create a contrast to highlight the landscape’s vertical dimension. Consider the following ways in which retaining walls can add structure, clever functionality, and style to your Brick, NJ, hardscape.
Organizing a hardscape
Different areas within your hardscape, like the outdoor kitchen and poolside, have different functions and often contrasting atmospheres. Defining these areas as distinct outdoor rooms can therefore help to bring order to the hardscape and highlight the individual flair of each space. Retaining walls can be used to carve these spaces from the landscape. Alternatively, individual spaces can be separated with the addition of retaining wall planter beds placed as outdoor room dividers. Low walls are also an excellent way of keeping your hardscape's laying plan clear cut and structured.
If the onset of winter threatens the upholstered pillows scattered around your patio, low walls can serve as efficient storage for these luxurious items that bring elements of the indoors out onto the patio. As soon as the weather begins to turn, your pillows can be popped into compartments built into the wall, while you rest assured that they are protected from the elements.
Low walls lining the perimeter of an outdoor room or framing a fire feature can also serve as space-saving seating for small backyards. These walls often occupy less space than a moveable furniture arrangement. Adorn your walls with plush accent pillows and ensure that your coping is smooth for a comfortable, yet casual, seating option. Seat walls often end in short, flat-topped pillars, which visually ‘anchor’ the wall to its surroundings and serve as a surface on which to place anything from drinks to lighting fixtures.
Borders and banding for enhanced aesthetic appeal
A band of bold or textured stone that runs the length of your retaining wall is an accent that can transform the standard structure into an intriguing hardscape feature that draws attention. Your banding can be selected in shades that complement the concrete or natural stone used throughout the rest of the retaining wall. Alternatively, it can also be used to create a striking contrast. Small black pavers, like Series in Black Granite from Unilock, often make a powerful visual impact when paired with lighter materials.
By incorporating the same banding into all your walls, pillars and other vertical elements, you can create visual flow throughout your hardscape and tie all its vertical elements together. You can enhance this visual cohesion within your design by matching your banding to the borders that enclose your patio.
Image courtesy of Unilock.