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Concrete Retaining Walls

Hear a landscape architect explain how and why concrete retaining walls were used for this front yard

A video transcript featuring Ive Haugeland, Shades of Green Landscape Architecture

To make this a useable front yard, we had to excavate a lot, and we wanted to have the yard at the level of the house instead of at the level of the street, so we used retaining walls to mitigate that difference. They are just plain gray retaining walls, with a very smooth contemporary look, which looks great with the colorful plantings we have here. The retaining walls are also great for privacy.

Wall plantings
The walls are pretty tall, and on top we planted fairly tall plants to get privacy to the yard. The main plants we used were phormium because they get tall and dense enough that they don't have that hedgy feeling. We wanted a more strappy, loose feeling, and they are matched up with some lower succulents for color and texture. There's a blue acacia tree here that's going to end up being a taller tree and become more like a focal point, and at the bottom are succulents, so the garden basically has very drought tolerant plants -- a lot of succulents (kangaroo paws, phormiums and some grasses). And it's all colorful leaves to give it the contemporary look.

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