Walls are an integral part of any space; they both define the limits of a garden, and set the atmosphere for them. They can also be the finishing landscaping touch to your garden. Stone walls in particular lend many good qualities to gardens. We can start with their basics to see why your landscape could benefit from these.
Types And Styles Of Stone Walls
There are four types of stone walls, or rather two types with two subcategories. There are retaining walls and there are freestanding walls, and each type can either be built ‘wet’ (with concrete) or ‘dry’ (without concrete and using gravity and friction to hold the stones together.)
A retaining wall is a type of structure designed to hold soil in place. Landscaping retaining walls are generally gravity walls, which can lean back against the soil and use their mass to keep land put. Freestanding walls are the type that aren’t holding any soil put and stand on their own.
Yes, freestanding walls can keep people out of various areas, or direct traffic to more favorable views.
Yes, retaining walls are traditionally used to bind soil between two elevations and to change the slope of turf.
There is so much more that walls can do for your garden.
– Provides Definition
Stone walls define areas, keeping your patio a space apart from your roses and making cozy outdoor ‘rooms.’ They provide focal points for a given section of garden, giving an end point to a bland, open-ended lawn. Stone walls artfully arranged around a landscape give it shape and balance.
Retaining walls give layers to your garden, allowing you to stack flowers and herbs for a stunning visual effect. You can terrace an area so that each plant gets a chance to shine on its own level. This will make your garden look fuller and more lush without pouring in lots of greenery.
– Widens Your Choice Of Plants
Retaining walls can artfully push plants up to the sun, giving you more space to plant light-loving flowers. At the same time, there are some herbs and flowers that need shade, and the side of a stone wall can shelter them in an otherwise exposed expanse of yard. It’s the chance to dictate to your land what you will plant, instead of being victim to whatever light your yard gets naturally.
– Protects Privacy
A freestanding wall around a patio offers a certain level of privacy, blocking prying eyes from watching you in your yard. It also handily keeps small children and pets corralled in a limited area where you have a good view of them while you hang out.
– Enhances Irrigation
Probably one of the biggest uses of retaining walls is in irrigation. They can trap and direct water. This limits erosion, stopping water from flushing soil downhill, taking mulch down to the street and creating deltas in your raised beds. It also keeps water by your flowers’ roots, where you want it, and not draining in your driveway. The wall changes the slope of your land so water doesn’t pool by your basement. The pipes you put through the wall let excess water spread harmlessly instead of pooling in one spot.
– Provide Eye Candy
Stone walls can be features in and of themselves: they can be elegant eye-catchers in formal tea gardens and rustic resting places along quiet paths. Stone walls look lovely in your yard and stays pretty year round, ageing gracefully and charming the eye for years.
Style Choices For Walls
Of course what your wall will look like will depend a bit on which of the uses to which you want to put your stone wall, but the style choices are wide even within that limit.
Different types of stone in a variety of cuts are available. Some are rough cut and weathered, giving your wall a rustic look. Others are all a similar color that can complement rest of the hardscapes in your garden. If you pick big, blocky stones, your wall will look sturdy and imposing. Picking smaller and more regularly shaped stones will lend your wall a more homely feel. Decide ahead of time what the overall look of the garden is and how the stone wall will fit in with it, and this will help you pick the rocks involved.
Do you want to work a post at the end of your wall, giving you a resting place for your hand while you turn a corner? Do you want your wall topped with flat pavers you can sit on comfortably? Perhaps you can work a bench into your wall? Perhaps you want inconspicuous retaining walls that blend into the background?
The style benefits of stone walls go beyond sheer variety, though. Stone walls age well. They will look classy years from now, long after the trendiest flower has gone to seed. They also don’t require much to keep pretty. If built properly, with weep holes to keep water from building up behind them and with a sturdy base, then they will only need a regular inspection and a little sweeping. Make sure none of the drainage pipes clog, and pull any weeds your retaining wall sprouts, and your wall is in peak shape.
Stone walls are useful and beautiful in many ways. If you are thinking of adding a stone wall to your landscape, feel free to ask us for advice. Irwin Stone supplies wall stone, and would love to help you with your backyard enhancements.