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Landscaping Videos

Retaining Wall Installation Tips

Discover how the right retaining wall design can add structure and beauty to a sloped landscape

A video transcript featuring Scott Cohen, The Green Scene

Waterproofing and drainage
The homeowner here wanted to maximize the use of space in this backyard. What we did to accomplish that is cut into the slope with small retaining walls. Retaining walls are built out of masonry cinderblock, and it's important to waterproof the backside of the walls. What you want to do is stop the water from migrating through the wall. You also want to relieve the hydrostatic pressure, the water that builds up against the wall. What happens is it wicks and weeps through the wall, and it causes delamination of stucco and stone finishes on the face, and you get a white mineral buildup called efflorescence, which is unsightly.

Wall materials
To coordinate materials in the wall, I cap these walls with bullnose travertine coping. This is the same material I'm using on the steps and bands and on the swimming pool in this project. Having everything match material-wise is important. This is a hacienda-style backyard. It's done in an old-world Spanish style. What we did here is, instead of having just regular stepped walls, I cut some nice decorative curves into these walls to match the styling of it all.

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