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The Rundown on Retaining Walls

Retaining walls offer a popular choice for those looking to get better control over the rate of soil erosion on their properties and offer an exceptional solution for enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a landscaping project.

On top of this they are cost effective, easy to maintain and long-lasting. This is particularly the case when you choose the retaining wall supplier who can provide you with a solution made from high-quality materials, and can install them for you.

For those looking to get the benefits offered by retaining walls, this article will outline exactly what they are, what they are used for, their benefits and their drawbacks.

We will also offer some advice to help you find the best retaining wall supplier for your needs by taking a look at their experience, after-sales services, as well as what their customers are saying.

So, let’s get started by taking a closer look at what exactly retaining walls are, and what they can be used for:

What are Retaining Walls?

In a nutshell, a retaining wall serves to hold soil in place when applied to a slope that the soil would normally run down.

They can be made from varying materials depending on their application, but for the most part they are made from concrete, which provides them with strength and keeps them lasting longer. They can also be made from stone or bricks, depending on how much protection they need to offer you.

When placed together on an embankment, retaining walls form a rigid, impassable barrier that keeps soil in place, while also providing a stylistic quality to the landscape it is positioned in.

There are different types of retaining walls that you can opt for, depending on what you want them to do.

Gravity retaining walls are the most common type, then there are cantilevered retaining walls, sheet piling retaining walls, and anchored retaining walls.

What are Retaining Walls Used For?

With this in mind, we can already see what types of applications that retaining walls can serve. They are used for a variety of reasons, and are not strictly for holding soil in place or preventing it from eroding.

Retaining walls also offer an effective and affordable way to revitalise a landscape, and in many situations, is even used for mass amounts of seating.

Let’s take a closer look:

Holding Soil in Place

You often find retaining walls on embankments or slopes, particularly where land has been elevated as part of construction.

Soil in these types of settings is easily displaced, and when they do, they can cause severe structural damage; they can even be unsafe.

Retaining walls offer the ideal solution to this problem, since it is able to hold soil in place at a diagonal position.

The bricks that make up a retaining wall are tightly packed together in such a way as to let nothing pass through it, which ensures that landscapes keep their structure, even when elevated.

Preventing Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is a serious problem all over the planet, and once it takes hold, the damage can be so severe as to leave the terrain unfit for just about anything.

Hard, cracked, dry and devoid of nutrients, there are a thousand reasons why every property should do what it can to combat the ravages of soil erosion.

This means finding a solution that can stop soil from being displaced whenever water runs through it. One such way of doing so, is through installing retaining walls.

They do this by firstly retaining the soil in position as discussed above. The second thing that they do is drain and channel water, so that it cannot cause erosion.

Improving Landscape Aesthetics

One of the more common reasons why people opt to have retaining-walls installed is that they add to the aesthetic appeal of a landscape.

Retaining walls can provide the perfect foundation on which to build up the terrain according to your own design, without causing damage to the surrounding terrain.

Cost-Effective Seating

In situations where there is a need for large amounts of outdoor seating, retaining walls have a surprisingly common use.

They can be found in a range of different environments, from schools and universities right through to sports stadiums, and in such situations, are typically used as a cost-effective and durable form of seating.

When compared to the cost of outfitting the same spaces with uPVC chairs, concrete retaining walls offer the same levels of comfort and convenience, but at much less of a cost.

This makes seating one of their most popular applications.

The Benefits of Retaining Walls

Now that we have a better idea of what retaining walls are, and what they are used for, let’s take a closer look at the top benefits that can be gained by having them installed on your property.

They come with a number of excellent benefits, too many to list in any single article. So, let’s take a look at the most common ones.

These include their cost-effectiveness, their longevity, how well they protect the condition of your soil, and their ability to improve the aesthetics of environments that they are installed to:

Cost Effectiveness

It’s the simplistic nature of their materials that make retaining walls so cost-effective, and they are quite a bit cheaper than regular walls, seating in large numbers, or trying to bring life back into your soil after it has been damaged by erosion.

For the most part, retaining walls are simply cast and made from concrete, which is widely available and quite affordable.

Of course, slate or stone retaining walls might come at a bit of an extra cost for that additional style, but will still work out to be remarkably cost effective anyway.

Long-Lasting Strength

Whether concrete, stone or brick, retaining walls have a lot of strength. They need to in order to provide their basic function of holding soil in place.

The three materials mentioned above are often chosen not just for their cost-effectiveness, but also their strength in general.

This means that retaining walls will last much longer than other solutions, despite coming at less of a cost.

They will also need less maintenance, and will withstand the ravages of harsh weather remarkably well.

Having said this, their design ensures that they are also lightweight, which comes with no sacrifice of strength. So, if you are looking for a durable, long-lasting solution, retaining walls are definitely one of your best options.

Protecting the Condition of the Soil

The health of the soil on your property dictates your ability to do anything with it. If it is dry, cracked and eroded, you won’t be able to grow a single thing on it.

Protecting your soil from such erosion can be quite a challenge, particularly in agricultural settings without a sustainable approach to soil care.

Fortunately, retaining walls can help with this a great deal, since the very thing they are designed to do is prevent the erosion and displacement of soil.

Improved Aesthetics

For those looking for more of an aesthetic function over a practical one, retaining walls also has something to offer in terms of style and character.

Retaining walls can come in a range of types, materials and styles, each of which will add a unique characteristic to your property.

In addition to that, they form the ideal foundation for landscaping projects that raise soil for any reasons.

They offer a versatile approach to landscaping, giving you the power to manipulate the terrain of your property to suit your exact needs.

The Drawbacks of Retaining Walls

Of course, nothing in life is without its faults. Even a solution as effective and beneficial as retaining walls has to come with one or two downsides.

Fortunately, most of these drawbacks can be easily circumvented by simply having a professional retaining wall supplier install it for you.

These drawbacks include the fact that they need effective drainage in order to work properly, that installation isn’t always straightforward, and that retaining walls are limited in the heights that they can reach.

Let’s have a closer look at each:

Retaining Walls Need Drainage

One of the strongest points about retaining walls, the fact that they are impervious, also means that they need to have effective drainage in order to work properly

In fact, without the right drainage in place, they can do mar harm than good to your property.

Since they are impervious, not even water can pass through the cracks of retaining walls, which means that they are great for holding soil in place.

However, on the other side of this, without drainage, water will build up behind the wall and cause hydrostatic pressure to build up.

When this happens, it can cause fairly severe damage to the wall itself, which will show itself in the form of water damage such as bulges and cracks.

Installation can be Complex

Installing a retaining wall can be quite difficult, especially if you have had no experience doing it before.

Because there is no concrete footing (a problem that we will cover in the next point), ensuring that retaining walls are properly backfilled and structurally sound can be a challenge, and mistakes can be devastating.

On top of that you need to understand how to give the wall proper drainage to avoid future damages.

These are just two of the complications faced when erecting one, and this isn’t even considering the nuances of your particular terrain, which also needs to be properly understood for installation to be done right

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it yourself, in fact we would recommend you don’t.

Getting a professional retaining wall supplier to do it for you will make this drawback virtually non-existent.

Retaining Walls offer Limited Height

Earlier we touched on the fact that retaining walls have no footing for their stability, but rather work with the forces of gravity to retain their structure and integrity.

This unfortunately, also means that they are limited in terms of the heights that they can safely be built up to.

Without a supporting fence, retaining walls can only be built up to just under a meter in height. This makes them ill-suited to security applications, but ensure that they perform their primary function of holding soil in place, very well.

Finding the Right Retaining Wall Supplier

With all of this in mind, you are likely wondering where to get your retaining wall from.

There are a number of retaining wall suppliers all over South Africa, which can make choosing the right one for your needs a little difficult for some.

We are here to help with a few tips for selecting the right supplier for your needs.

You need to find out how experienced they are, what their customers are saying, and whether or not they will provide you with support and services once the retaining wall has been installed on your property.

How Experienced are They?

One of the first things you want to gauge is their experience in the industry.

This is a fairly easy one to find out since you just have to check how long they have been in business for.

Generally speaking, more experienced teams come at a bit more of a cost, but will provide you with a much higher quality job at the end of the day.

What are their Customers Saying?

Next, go online and find out what their customers are saying about them.

These days, testimonials can be found with relative ease by simply Googling the company name in question, or checking to see if they have a social networking page.

Do they Offer After-Sales Support?

Find out if the company you are looking at offers support and maintenance once installations are finished.

You never know if they might need to return to iron out a complication or repair a broken retaining wall.

Even if you never need it, having after-sales support on hand will give you peace of mind.

Contact Buffalo Retaining Walls for Details

Looking for retaining wall suppliers who can provide you with what you need?

Be sure to get into contact with a representative from Buffalo Retaining Walls today, or visit our website for additional information on our offers.


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Key Services

Some of the services we offer
  • Retaining Walls
  • Gabions
  • Paving
  • Attenuation Pond
  • Kerbs
  • Embankments/Stadium Seating