Retaining walls are an excellent tool for reshaping your landscape, holding back slopes and creating multiple levels for your outdoor spaces. They also create an attractive aesthetic, introducing form, texture and color to your landscape. However, in order to be assured that your retaining walls are able to stand up against the harshness of winter, quality materials and professional construction expertise is absolutely essential. Following are some of the reasons you’d do well to invest in quality retaining walls to maintain your Putnam County, NY backyard's aesthetic through the colder months.
Beating the freeze/thaw cycle
As the temperature fluctuates over the winter months, moisture released by snow and ice seeps into the natural stone or concrete materials of outdoor features. When this moisture freezes again, it expands, causing cracks and fissures in weak points of the materials. To guard against this, high quality materials with a low porosity should be used. Dense materials prevent water from seeping in, avoiding the problems created by the freeze/thaw cycle, while materials with a high structural integrity hold together against the outward forces of expanding ice. The blocks from which your retaining wall is constructed are not the only elements susceptible to the freeze/thaw cycle, however. Jointing can also be susceptible to damage, which is why we use polymeric sand to seal all joints.
Avoiding the effects of soil compaction
Another effect of melting snow is soil compaction. As the snow melts, water seeps into the soil, causing the ground to resettle harder and more compact than before. This settling process can shift the foundations of a retaining wall, causing crack in the wall and even collapse unless care is taken by experienced professionals to secure a solid foundation. At Lehigh, we compact the excavated subgrade soil before the addition of base course material to increase the density and load bearing capacity of the soil and limit the effects of weather related soil compaction.
Holding up against the weight of snow
Retaining walls are designed to hold up the weight of the soil they’re supporting. However, during winter, the weight of the load is increased considerably by snow and moisture in the soil. In order to prevent a retaining wall collapse, professional landscapers with knowledge of appropriate engineering techniques should be used for retaining wall installation. Lehigh’s team of experts are well equipped to deal with these challenges, ensuring quality design and engineering for your outdoor features.
Protecting plants and property from the wind
During winter, the alcoves created by retaining walls can be used to nestle vulnerable evergreens that may be sensitive to wind exposure. Used in this way, retaining walls provide excellent windbreakers for flowerbeds and even patios that may still be used during the winter.
Protecting your landscape against water damage and erosion
Retaining walls are an excellent tool in protecting against soil erosion, however correct drainage is necessary for this to be effective. Proper installation of retaining walls and correct drainage methods ensure that your retaining walls act to guard against water damage and erosion rather than exacerbate issues such as pooling and ground being swept into lower areas. This is especially important when snow defrosts, resulting in sudden exposure to mass amounts of water.