Retaining Walls and Outcroppings

Retaining walls serve several functional purposes, such as holding back a grade or helping to divert watershed.  However, they can be beautiful in addition to functional.  A retaining wall can be constructed using many different materials, including field stone, outcropping stone, engineered concrete blocks, or wood timbers.

To properly build a retaining wall, you must consider proper drainage and back fill to avoid the wall collapsing during the freeze/thaw cycle of winter.  Materials that have significant gaps between stones don’t typically require drain tile behind the wall, such as fieldstone.  However, walls constructed with concrete block or timbers must have drain tile to allow the water to escape.

When the grade is steep but a retaining wall isn’t a necessity, naturalized outcroppings can be used to add accents to a sloped area, rather than building a full retaining wall.  Outcroppings slow the flow of water down a slope, as well as add visual interest.  When strategically placed, they become a natural part of the landscape and appear as though they’ve been there all along.

Consider adding cascading plants above your retaining walls for even more beauty.  There are many varieties of cascading shrubs and perennials that can add year-round interest.

Below you will find information on some of our most commonly used retaining wall materials.

Fieldstone
Fieldstone is available in many different types, colors and sizes, but fieldstone is generally spherically shaped chunks of stone.  Most fieldstone is granite or limestone, and ranges in color from buff to brighter rose colors.  Fieldstone suppliers in Wisconsin even purchase the stone from farmers that they uncover while tilling their fields, making reclaimed local materials a great option for construction use.
Here are some links to various local fieldstone suppliers:
Halquist Stone – Fieldstone Boulder Collection
Eden Stone – Boulder Varieties
Outcropping Stone
Outcropping stone is a product that comes in larger chunks, ranging in depth from 12″ to 36″, and has the versatility to be used as both retaining wall and step material.  Outcropping stone is a limestone product, so the color varies depending upon the quarry and stone supplier.
Here are some links to various outcropping stone suppliers:
Eden Stone – Outcropping Varieties
Halquist Stone – Outcropping Collection
Holey Boulders
Holey boulders are a form of outcropping stone with a much more weathered look.  In addition to a retaining wall variety, Holey Boulders are also available in character chunks, which can be used as accent features in your landscape.

Wood Timbers
Timber retaining walls are a great budget-friendly option when you need a retaining wall without the cost of natural stone.  These walls are constructed using pressure treated timbers which are intended for ground-contact use.  Given time, however, timber retaining walls will eventually rot away and become unsightly.