Landscaping with retaining walls adds curb appeal, usability to your home

February 3, 2010

Courtesy of ARA Content

The best investment you can make in your home—both for your pocketbook and your personal enjoyment—is in landscaping. Real estate experts agree that every dollar you put into your yard eventually will return $1 to $2 when you sell. And at a time when home values are sagging, that’s something to consider.

“With an increasing number of homeowners staying put rather than selling and moving up, we’re seeing a growing trend of people adapting their homes to their lifestyle,” says Dave Johnson, manager of Patio Town, a leading Minnesota landscape supplies retailer. “That often means investing in landscaping to make better use of what they already own.”

Versatile segmental retaining wall systems enable today’s homeowner to bring plenty of curb appeal to their landscape while maximizing the use of their outdoor environment. Construction of everything from raised-bed gardens and tiered walls to stairs, columns and freestanding seatwalls is possible with systems such as Versa-Lok.

What’s nice about these systems is that they appeal to both the do-it-yourselfer and the professional landscaper, says Johnson.

“You can add some amazing features to your yard with a modest amount of skill and labor,” Johnson explains. “Fire pits with paver patios, retaining walls, columns, sidewalks and driveways all are within the capabilities of most do-it-yourselfers. Or, you can bring your ideas to a professional landscaper and leave the design and installation to them, no matter how complex.”

In recent years, segmental retaining walls have become one of the most important tools in the hands of landscapers.

“Your imagination is your only limitation when working with these systems,” says Kelly O’Donahue, landscape designer with Villa Landscapes in Oakdale, Minn. “I’ve transformed virtually unusable back yards into stunning outdoor environments using Versa-Lok. Homeowners love it because it’s readily available in consistent colors and styles that are easily matched with existing exteriors or other landscape elements.”

It is a favorite among hardscape installers as well. “The Versa-Lok system is especially design-friendly because it uses solid units that can be easily cut or split to fit any application,” explains Austin Keay, owner of AKeay Landscaping in North Branch, Minn. “They’re like the building blocks of landscaping. You can do almost anything with them, whether you’re installing an outdoor kitchen from scratch or putting a new face on an older home with a front-entry makeover.”

Segmental retaining wall systems lend themselves to phased landscaping projects built over a period of years, says O’Donahue. That’s a trend landscape designers are seeing more of as homeowners have become more cost-conscious.

“Some of our customers have a grand idea of what they ultimately want, but may not be able to afford all at once. So we work up a master plan for them, they start out with one phase, perhaps a circular paver patio with seatwalls and a firepit in the back yard. And that evolves over a period of years to a full-blown entertainment area, maybe an outdoor kitchen or bar, along with other features such as gardens or gazebos.”

Sustainable, or “green,” landscaping, also rapidly gaining in popularity, can add value to your home in other ways.

Low-rise retaining walls can be used in such features as rain gardens to significantly reduce storm water and pollutant runoff from surface areas. Plantable retaining walls, like Versa-Lok’s Versa-Green system, provide earth stabilization while softening the appearance of a traditional retaining wall with vegetation. For information about Versa-Lok Retaining Wall Systems, visit versa-lok.com or call (800) 770-4525.

“Plantable wall systems essentially create a vertical garden while performing the function of a retaining wall,” says O’Donahue. “You can get really creative with the color and textures of plantings you use in the wall to achieve whatever look you want.”

From “lifestyle landscaping” to “green landscaping,” there’s a retaining wall that can add appeal and value to your home. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or looking to hire someone, you’ll be able to add a new dimension to your outdoor environment in time to entertain guests this summer.

From the Feb. 3-9, 2010 issue.

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