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Published: Friday, 8/19/2011

Versatile Retaining Walls are a DIY Landscaper's Best Friend

Solid retaining wall units can be easily cut to fit a grill or refrigerator and topped with a nice stone slab. Solid retaining wall units can be easily cut to fit a grill or refrigerator and topped with a nice stone slab.

(ARA) - Segmental retaining wall systems are one of the most versatile tools available to the do-it-yourself landscaper. Besides traditional walls designed to hold back soil, these innovative systems also can be used to build a whole array of landscaping features.
"Fire pits, outdoor kitchens, seat walls, stairs, columns, tables, even plantable walls that become a part of the landscape are possible for homeowners willing to invest a little creativity and sweat equity in their yard," says Shannon McGregor of Patio Town, a Minnesota landscape supplies retailer. "With the right system, the only limit is your imagination."
Imagine yourself entertaining guests around a built-in grill in your back yard. Using a retaining wall system, create a freestanding kitchen island wrapped around a grill and refrigerator and topped with a granite slab. The solid concrete blocks can be modified and configured to accommodate appliances and utility connections.
One of the most popular backyard features for DIY landscapers is a fire pit surrounded by a patio and seat walls made from retaining wall units.
"A circular or square patio is built around a cast-iron fire ring, and matching seat walls ring the patio," says McGregor. "It's a terrific project for someone who wants an affordable, easy-to-install backyard makeover."

Several courses of pavers may be used to encircle the fire ring. The seat walls are simply freestanding walls built at an appropriate sitting height. These may be capped with bullnose pavers for added comfort.
Freestanding columns constructed from split wall units stacked and glued in a four-square pattern make an attractive landscape feature. Standing alone at the end of a driveway or on either end of a freestanding wall, columns can be finished with natural or cast stone caps. Install wrought iron between columns to create elegant fencing. Columns can be built around the posts of a pergola to add a touch of class to a garden space, spa or even front entry. Or make a table from a column topped with a natural or cast stone slab.
Retaining wall units are stacked in tiers to make the stair's base pedestal. Stair treads are made from wall cap units, pavers or precast treads. The stairs can be fully inset into a wall or exposed on one or both sides.
Working with segmental retaining wall systems doesn't require a lot of expensive tools. Those that may be needed -- concrete saw or block splitter, for example -- can be rented on a daily basis or your supplier may have them available.
"Investing in landscaping is a sure way to add value to your home," McGregor concludes. "That, coupled with an increasing trend toward entertaining at home, make segmental retaining wall systems an appealing solution for the do-it-yourselfer with a bit of imagination." Courtesy of ARAcontent

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