Retaining Walls

Retaining Walls
Adding a retaining wall to the scape of your land
will make your house stand out above all.
built my first retaining wall back in 1993. I was working for a prominent landscape/nursery outfit in Malta N.Y., I found the whole construction process in landscaping interesting and challenging compared to the basic stuff like mowing and trimming. Our first job as Timber & Stone was a medium sized bluestone retaining wall in Saratoga Springs N.Y. It was the summer of 1999. I remember the pieces were a little on the large size for just myself and a helper luckily we were young and our backs robust! To date we have built over a couple hundred retaining walls of all types from Albany to the Adirondacks.

Now at a glance a retaining wall may look like a simple structure with minimal thought to construct, but I assure you this is not the case. Variables like the type of soil, watershed and runoff, surcharge, tree and shrub roots and underground springs all play a part of wall engineering and design. The retaining wall construction process whether natural stone or man-made segmental retaining walls systems (SWS) relies heavily on proper engineering at Timber & Stone. Versa-lok walls for instance can be built as low as 1 foot tall or taller than 20 feet if needed with proper construction techniques. Natural stone also follows some basic principles and walls are designed for the specific purpose they need to serve. Large, heavy stones are needed for taller walls as they rely on friction to keep to earth retained. Drainage is also a huge part of the equation and can make or break a retaining wall design. Most walls over 4 feet in elevation require geogrid layers to tie the wall into the earth behind it. This prevents tipping, pushing, bulging and leaning. Ofcourse a proper aggregate base is key compacted in lifts to eliminate settling and the base course or courses are buried in accordance to total wall elevation above grade. I could go on but let's talk about what we can build for you.

When we build man-made interlocking block walls (SWS) we usually first check out your site and determine the correct system for you. The smaller (75-80 lb ) versa-lok or Allan block types are common and have a ton of flexibility around the landscape. With geogrid reinforcement we have built walls tall as 18 feet above grade with a parking lot directly behind cap! These same blocks may also be used for smaller accent , border and popular foundation planters. For larger walls where space may be an issue we can use a Redi-rock type system. These retaining wall systems don't require geogrid as the pieces are enormous! Smaller pieces weighing around 600lbs larger specimens tipping the scales at 4,500 lbs! These units are mechanically placed and do not have as tight of a fit n' finish as the smaller systems. They are mostly used in commercial applications but can also work great along bodies of water in residential jobs too.

For many purists natural stone is the only way to go and if the appropriate sized stone is chosen for the task low maintenance and durability will not be an issue. The key to these jobs like I touched on earlier is using a large enough stone to ensure the friction can hold back the mass and surcharge of retained earth. The natural stone retaining walls we build are 98 percent mortar free for a low maintenance long lasting lifespan. We like to think these walls will be enjoyed by not only the client who contracts with us but generations to come. We have built over a hundred Natural stone retaining walls using Bluestone, Granite, Limestone, and Fieldstone in places like Clifton Park, Malta, Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs, Wilton, Glens Falls and Lake George. Our walls also reside on too many waterfronts to list in the Capital District including ponds, lakes, streams and rivers. On a personal note building Large boulder walls with an excavator is probably my second favorite thing to do besides designing patios. Although sometimes puzzling and challenging it truly is one of my passions. Freestanding double faced walls can be stacked and fitted from almost any stone whether man-made or natural. Capping the walls is only limited by your imagination and we love building in benches and planters as well. Under cap accent lights are popular here and if you want to go nuts we can incorporate water and fire features too.

If you need to tame a hill or slope and a wall is not in the budget we can usual stone scape the area with rocks and plantings. Large natural groupings of different sized boulders along with river rock, mulch, plants or ground cover is a great look or we could simply line the hillside with Rip Rap or large cobbles. Weed fabric is optional depending on choice of plantings. Places like Clifton Park , Wilton, Saratoga and the Adirondacks can use indigenous type styles to get that perfect "look" to make the neighbors envious. Give me a call or message me I would love to chat about rocks!

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