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Steel retaining walls in the garden

On a recent project I needed to design a series of low retaining walls, steps and edges.  I wanted to introduce a new material that would complement the 100 year old concrete walls, steps and paths in the yard.

I ended up choosing steel because its strength allows for very thin walls/edges which in turn maximizes the plantable area of the project. I also liked the steel because it develops a rich patina over time and has a hardness that matches the feel of the concrete.

The steel panels were cut in a metal shop and then sent to a second shop to be pieced together and welded. Square steel posts were anchored into the ground to support the metal. They were pounded into the ground with sledgehammers.

The (5) 13′ metal panels were lifted into place by a team of five guys.

Wood supports (see image below) hold the steel in place. The metal walls were then welded in place to the steel posts. This allowed for a really pristine front to the wall – no screw heads!

Once the walls/edges were welded in place, the wood was removed. The space behind the walls was filled with gravel wrapped in filter fabric. This allows the area behind the wall to act as a french drain and keeps the wall relatively dry.

Next the posts were cut off a little lower than the wall. The supports were filled with concrete to prevent them from collecting water. Soil on the upper bed was graded so that it comes right up to the wall, creating a really thin, sexy edge.

Here is a photo of the walls after the final micro grading.

The project is further along now — I’ll post more photos soon.