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The Wonder of Walls
Strength Meets Beauty


Whether constructed from natural or manmade materials, walls can serve the same functions as fences but most of them have a more important job - to hold back the earth - be it at a private residence, multifamily development, or commercial/industrial/municipal setting.


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Contractor: TDH Landscaping
Designer: TDH Landscaping
Location: Maryland
Materials: CMUs reinforced with steel and concrete, red fascia brick (for corners), West Mountain fieldstone veneer, thermal bluestone caps with burned edge
Dimensions: Columns - 6' tall x 2' wide x 2' deep; Wall - 3' to 5' tall x 80 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 4 people/31 days
Special Interest: Excavation for a frost-free footer about 5' wide was part of the install as was a poured-in-place, steel reinforced 8" concrete pad at the base of the footer. Back fill behind the wall used fabric, gravel and drain pipe. The wall also has weep holes.


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Contractor: Pinnacle Structures
Location: Colorado
Materials: Victorian Ashlar blocks
Dimensions: 14,000 sq. ft.
Crew Size/Project Length: 4-6 people/2 months
Special Interest: The fiberglass pin system provided a "near vertical" setback construction option.


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Contractor: A.P. Builders
Designer: Vella & Associates
Location: California
Materials: 8"x8" architectural stacked block
Dimensions: 42" - 66"-high retaining wall with attached 18"-high concrete seat wall
Special Interest: The shallow rear yard has a 1:1 slope going up 20' to the property line. Due to restricted access and the exceptionally rock-hard soil, the trenches for the retaining walls had to be dug by hand using jackhammers.


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Contractor: Pinnacle Structures
Location: Colorado
Materials: Keystone textured "Stone Split" blocks in multiple sizes, Synteen geogrid
Dimensions: 25,000 sq. ft.
Crew Size/Project Length: 4-6 people/ 6 months
Special Interest: The geogrid eliminated the need for large concrete footers and allowed the project to be built more economically. The system's patented pin connection allowed for ease of unit alignment according to the contractor.


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Contractor: Harold Jones Landscape
Designer: Jeff Lindfors, LPO inc
Location: California
Materials: CMUs veneered with over-grouted Bel Air rubble
Dimensions: 6' tall x 22' wide
Crew Size/Project Length: 5 people/3 weeks
Special Interest: This stone wall was planned at the same time as a similar interior parallel stone wall and fireplace to reinforce the indoor/outdoor connection. It was also intended to add drama to the space, to display existing sculptures the client had in his possession and to accommodate a fireplace.


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Contractor: Pillari, LLC
Designer: Porcello Engineering
Location: New Jersey
Materials: 'Classic' blocks
Dimensions: 75,000 sq. ft., approx., 90' total wall height
Crew Size: 15 people
Special Interest: A 4' round air duct with a concrete headwall serving as an air ventilation system for the underground parking garage was built into the block wall. The installers built the block walls up to either side of the duct to help form the sides of the headwall, then the bottom and sides of the headwall were formed and cast. The block walls were then built up to a point level with where the top of the headwall will be. A last headwall pour was cast to bring the headwall up level with the top block course.


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Contractor: Confidence Landscaping
Designer: Landfour Landscape
Location: California
Materials: CMUs with smooth stucco finish
Dimensions: 30" and 39" tall x 125 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 3 people/14 days
Special Interest: The walls are offset from each other with some controlled spillways for interest and succulent plantings. They were built on a spread footing, the top of which is 9" below finish grade. The slope's water table was problematic, as quite often a cut into the hillside would cause water to seep and fill the footing excavation. To address the drainage challenges, each section of wall was waterproofed and had a French drain with perforated pipe and MiraDRAIN 6000 installed. Creating the spillways while honoring the retention and drainage system was also tricky. The contractor used 12" double-wall HDPE corrugated pipe cut to 6" below retention height and ripped into semi-circles to match the angle of the intersecting walls. The spillways contain filter fabric jute stapled and keyed in at the top and bottom, a cactus succulent soil mix Napa rocks matching the boulders and dry stacked stone walls on the project.


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Contractor: Progressive Landscape Design
Designer: Jeff Allen Landscape Architecture
Location: North Carolina
Materials: Brick, bluestone coping, spheres were cast with pummeled marble, rock and resin.
Dimensions: 6' to 8' tall x 38 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 4 to 6 people/4 weeks
Special Interest: The brick was embedded with sand to help match it to the brick on the house. The dolphin fountain and shell are made from lead.


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Contractor: TDH Landscaping
Designer: TDH Landscaping
Location: Maryland
Materials: Setback gravity system, helical piers, Eldorado Stone, River Gorge country rubble veneer
Dimensions: 660 sq. ft. of pool walls
Crew Size/Project Length: 5 people/45 days
Special Interest: The pressure of the pool and existing pool house was pushing on the old retaining wall. The contractor had to stabilize the pool from underneath so it wouldn't shift and cause damage to house, remove old retaining wall and install new one (inset). All of the concrete blocks had to be craned in. The top of the pool house was removed to open up the pool area, and then the remaining brick pool house walls were veneered.


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Contractors: Valencia Stone Art Construction, Superior Concrete, Speed Fab-Crete
Designer: Glass-Renta, Inc.
Location: Texas
Materials: Retaining wall block, prefab concrete panels
Dimensions: Panels - 8' tall x 275 lineal feet (including overlap); Retaining wall - 70" tall x 210 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: varied greatly/about 1 year
Special Interest: The project addresses privacy issues and noise mitigation from adjacent roadway while providing an attractive wall design and landscaping for the neighborhood. A wall drainage system that ties into the city storm drain was incorporated into the build.


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Contractor: Mink's Outdoor Professionals
Designer: Mink's Outdoor Professionals
Location: Kentucky
Materials: Upper wall - CMUs, stucco; lower wall - rubble stone
Dimensions: Upper wall - 6' tall x 50 lineal feet; Lower wall - 4' tall x 80 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 6 people/6 months
Special Interest: The contractor reported that this project took a lot of engineering because it was built on a sloped lot in a very confined space. The crew had to dig down 8' to get to the grade. The lower retaining wall has a built-in bench.


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Contractor: TDH Landscaping
Designer: TDH Landscaping
Location: Maryland
Materials: About 30 tons of boulders, Tennessee fieldstone with West Mountain fieldstone caps
Dimensions: 47" tall x 55 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 3 people/4 days
Special Interest: The crew had to excavate for each boulder, position the boulder and secure with mortar. They also built a boulder wall around the pool equipment, using 20 linear feet of Tennessee grotto rock. The first course of boulders was below grade.


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Contractor: Borrowed Ground
Designer: Borrowed Ground
Location: British Columbia
Materials: Granite boulders, slate pavers, Columbia River Basalt, Montana slate, Dimensions: 5' tall from grade x 15 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 6 people/1 month
Special Interest: The project is described as "Asian inspired."


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Contractor: J.Cugliotta Landscape Nursery
Designer: J.Cugliotta Landscape Nursery
Location: New Jersey
Materials: Pennsylvania river jacks, 3/4" clean stone (for footer), Portland cement, concrete sand
Dimensions: 3' tall and 3, 11 and 25 lineal feet (3 separate walls)
Crew Size/Project Length: 4 people/5 days
Special Interest: This is a 300-year-old horse farm in South Jersey and the homeowner requested a New England-style cobblestone wall. It is trapezoidal in shape: 2' wide at top and 3' wide at bottom. The contractor installed an 18"-deep footer under each wall to relieve hydrostatic pressure. Two plywood forms were made in the trapezoidal shape of the finished wall and strings were run at 8" intervals as wall was built to insure proper batter.


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Contractor: Borrowed Ground
Designer: Borrowed Ground
Location: British Columbia
Materials: Montana slate, Arkansas sandstone
Dimensions: 4" tall x 65 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 3 people/4 weeks
Special Interest: This is a Montana slate stone retaining fence along a pebble driveway.


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Contractor: Borrowed Ground
Designer: Borrowed Ground
Location: British Columbia
Materials: Basalt/andascite columns, quartzite wall material, Arkansas sandstone caps
Dimensions: 18" tall on the inside x 16' in diameter
Crew Size/Project Length: 3 people/20 working hours
Special Interest: The fire pit is made out of fabricated Olivene blocks.


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Contractor: TDH Landscaping
Designer: TDH Landscaping
Location: Maryland
Materials: Western Maryland fieldstone, thermal bluestone caps
Dimensions: 30" tall x 70 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 4 people/22 days
Special Interest: TDH spent an extra two to three weeks harvesting approximately 22 tons of stone from the client's property in Thurmont, Maryland, which saved the client a lot of money.


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Contractor: Phil May Landscape Architect
Designer: Phil May Landscape Architect
Location: California
Materials: Galvanized wire, granite cobble rock
Dimensions: 18-30" tall x 24 lineal feet
Project Length: 3 weeks


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Contractor: Borrowed Ground
Designer: Borrowed Ground
Location: British Columbia
Materials: Montana slate
Dimensions: 4' tall x 45 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 4 people/2 months
Special Interest: This angled wall is on a 60-degree slope with cantilevered stairs that are 12" off the ground.


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Contractor: Borrowed Ground
Designer: Borrowed Ground
Location: British Columbia
Materials: Montana slate
Dimensions: 4' tall x 170 lineal feet
Crew Size/Project Length: 3 people/ 2 months
Special Interest: This retaining wall is composed of approximately 80 tons of Montana slate.



As seen in LC/DBM magazine, January 2018.






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