As architects take advantage of the rolling countryside around Madison WI, retaining walls are becoming more important in site planning. The use of custom paver walls has added curb appeal and design style to utilitarian structures. A custom retaining wall of decorative pavers is now a landscape design device – creating stunning outdoor areas while taming a slope at the same time.
Retaining Walls Work Hard, Look Good In Madison WI
Traditionally, a retaining wall is engineered to hold back erosion and stabilize steep slopes. While that’s still a primary application, custom paver walls are considered for four key reasons:
- Traditional slope control – keeping soil in place and allowing residential uses on otherwise difficult to access hillsides
- Controlling drainage and runoff – helping to protect surrounding areas from erosion and flooding during heavy rain or snow melt
- Allowing the most versatile use of existing terrain – taking advantage of slopes and changes in grade while providing additional usable space
- Adding visual impact to the landscape and exterior of a property – not only are flat building sites less common, they are less appealing as people want “character” and topography in their landscape
Custom paver walls are particularly important when considering retaining walls where style and visual impact are critical elements. Throughout Southern Wisconsin, the use of field stones and large boulders has been the first choice of contractors for years. These common, bulky resources are giving way to a multitude of colors, textures, sizes and shapes available in custom pavers. Custom brick pavers are especially wise applications for smaller installations.
Retaining Walls Aren’t As Simple As They Look
When planning a retaining wall for your property, consider:
- Make the wall a part of your outdoor lifestyle – while landscape walls serve a vital purpose, they shouldn’t detract from enjoying your property. Build them into multipurpose spaces – gardens, recreation areas, etc.
- Take advantage of professionals for creative design – while boulder walls do the job, custom paver walls offer curves, colors and texture. A professional design and installation gives your yard a chance to “make a statement.”
- Size is important – A retaining wall that’s 4 feet tall or shorter offers a huge variety of options. Anything taller than 4 feet require special engineering touches. A 4-foot wall spanning 15 feet could easily be holding back 20 tons of saturated soil after a heavy rain. In Madison WI the freeze and thaw cycle of a typical winter is at play, too. And, taller walls may require special permits – your contractor will sort that out.
- A terrace adds style and function – if your slope is steep or your lot includes a lengthy hillside, adding terraces not only makes for a secure slope, it adds character and even more landscaping options.
- Don’t forget drainage – while these walls are designed to hold back rain, they cannot be built without an eye toward where the water will go. Without proper drainage, extreme pressure will be applied to the wall.
- Nothing is forever – retaining walls are a long term investment. You can change planting whenever you want, but walls are forever (almost).
A Variety of Building Blocks Available
More and more materials become available all the time for use in retaining walls, especially custom paver walls. Appropriate choices include:
- Interlocking concrete blocks — Also known as segmented blocks these retaining wall systems are usually used without mortar and are designed for smaller installations. Modular designs allow for curves and turns. Available is many textures, shapes and colors. Walls are usually capped with flat stones held in place with silicone caulk.
- Real Stone — The use of real stone, preferably collected locally, makes for a very natural structure that blends into the landscape of the region. A downside consideration is that fitting stones is a demanding, exacting process that requires experience and special equipment – large field stone slabs and boulders are extremely heavy and hard to move.
- Bricks — Can provide a unique, formal look and blend with styling on the surrounding structures.
- Cinder Blocks — Fairly inexpensive and can be reinforced with rebar or concrete. Usually covered with stucco, brick or stone façade.
- Stone Pavers — Custom paver walls are becoming extremely popular as they provide all the favorable elements of traditional retaining walls with additional style to complement pave patios, pave walks and nearby hardscape elements.
Don’t Leave Anything To Chance – Go With A Pro
Contact Marvin Martinez at Martin’s Brick Pavers, 608-630-8855 or email us at www.marvinsbrickpavers.com for professional ideas to design, create and install retaining walls of all kinds, particularly custom paver walls and other brick paver creations in Madison WI.