One of the great things about living in an elevated house is the wonderful views you often get. The panoramic views from the either your front or back balcony is definitely one of the advantages of being up high. Of course, along with the upside, there is always going to be a downside. This means the chances you will have a steep front or back garden is pretty much a given!
This happened to us not too long ago with a house we bought. The front driveway was so steep it was a huge task just to get the car up the driveway into the carport. This wasn’t so much of a problem, mind you, as anyone on foot thought twice before dropping in unannounced! While we did enjoy getting visitors, we also loved our privacy but that is another story completely. Anyway back to the garden…
As you can image the front garden was very steep and after a few weeks of rain we were starting to worry that the whole lot was going to wash away with the next storm! The before photo tells the story of what we were up against. It was definitely time to look into some sort of retaining wall or lose most of our garden.
We did quite a bit of research and found there were two distinct ways to address this problem that appealed to us. One was to create a rock garden on the sloped area we were trying to save or to use railroad ties…aka railway sleepers, if you live in the UK or Australasia…to build a retaining wall.
Side note: my husband LOVES trains so can you guess which option we went with! I had no problem letting him make this decision, after all he was going to be doing most of the heavy lifting! Actually, the costs were going to be similar and after looking around the neighborhood realised that recycled wood would be the best fit.
In our case we opted to do the work ourselves, after all, we are fit and strong, right? After a couple of weekend’s slog, a lot of discussion with the our male neighbors on the best way to tackle the job and what tools to use, we managed to finish the project. The end result was a two tier wall effect which meant we could plant cascading plants and creepers as well as normal plants in the leveled out beds.
I had just finished doing some planting when this photo was taken. Not bad eh? Certainly a vast improvement on the before shot. The recycled railway ties definitely add a certain charm, wouldn’t you say?
Any downside? Well, it was backbreaking work and in our case we did need a lot of soil to fill up the levels. This can get expensive so bear this in mind when you are doing your costings. The upside was a usable area for planting and an attractive entry to our house.
Have I inspired you to make a decision? To find out what to do next, read my Top Tips Planning Your Retaining Wall.