Serving the Naperville Community
A sloped property can feature amazing views, but challenges such as erosion and flooding - as well as limited outdoor living space. A retaining wall can solve many problems on your property. Here are 6 ways you can include a retaining wall in your landscape design in Naperville, IL.
Related: Choosing the Right Look for a Retaining Wall That Will Be Part of Your Brick Patio Design in Hinsdale, IL
1. Create Gorgeous Outdoor Living Spaces
Outdoor living space is sometimes hard to come by on sloped properties. Excavating part of the hillside and using a retaining wall to hold back soil is a way to significantly add to your usable space. Once the space is carved out, here are some great design ideas.
Incorporating built-in seating into the retaining wall can create a cozy spot for a fire pit with a view. A masonry retaining wall will reflect the heat from the fire pit, keeping the space cozier than an exposed fire pit, which will be much appreciated in colder weather.
Built-in seating creates a park-like atmosphere; and when you’re hosting a larger gathering, everyone will have a place to sit without the clutter of additional patio chairs.
Incorporate other features into the retaining wall to save space and integrate the wall into the living area. An integrated outdoor fireplace and pizza oven will quickly become the hub of outdoor living. An integrated water feature will help create a soothing atmosphere for relaxing and entertaining. A retaining wall also makes the ideal “back wall” of an outdoor kitchen.
Landscape light fixtures can also be incorporated into a retaining wall. This will accentuate the texture of the wall, and create a clutter-free approach to landscape lighting. You could even add a few illuminated niches to the wall to display interesting objects.
2. Extra Space for Gardening
If you’re a fan of gardening, retaining walls can make the experience even nicer. Terraced gardens are found everywhere in the Mediterranean, making the best use of incredibly steep slopes. A terraced garden can be used to grow edible and ornamental plants on land that would otherwise be extremely difficult to cultivate. And, it puts your garden at a comfortable and easily accessible level.
3. Prevent Erosion and Flooding
The main function of a retaining wall is to prevent erosion and flooding. A shorter gravity wall can be used for gentle slopes; steep slopes will need a taller wall that’s engineered and reinforced to withstand the incredible forces of waterlogged soil. Drains installed behind a retaining wall can also divert water to where you want it to go, which will also help prevent soil movement that results from the freeze-thaw cycle.
Retaining walls can be used to add a finished look to your landscape. A wall alongside a walkway or driveway makes an elegant statement and presents an opportunity to integrate landscape lighting in a beautifully unobtrusive way. As well, if the wall is upslope of the walkway or driveway, it will help prevent debris from washing onto the surface.
5. Defining Spaces
A retaining wall positioned between your front entry walkway and the landscaping creates a welcoming “embrace” to your visitors and makes it clear which way you want people to go.
6. An Artistic Statement
Create a bold statement with a retaining wall by embracing the use of different materials on the retaining wall and other patio elements - and turn this otherwise utilitarian feature into a stunning focal point.
Related: The 5 Benefits of Having a Retaining Wall Near Your Driveway in Naperville, IL
The fire pit is often the hub of outdoor gatherings, especially when the evening takes on a chill. As such, it’s a backyard focal point; but the fireside space can be made even more dramatic with a few key lighting strategies. Adding a new fire pit in Hinsdale, IL? Consider these outdoor lighting ideas too.
Related: Renovating Your Patio? Here are 6 Reasons to Include a Fire Pit in Naperville, IL
Keeping the area around your fire pit safe is a top priority, especially when the fire goes out. Subtle path lights could be used to provide just enough lighting to make the space comfortable and safe; and you can also use these other lighting strategies to create a welcoming place for your family and friends.
To avoid a stark contrast between the light that the fire pit gives out and the darkness of the surrounding landscape, consider placing a few low-lying lights more or less randomly throughout the landscape to create subtle illumination that gives your backyard more dimension. For this purpose, you could use pathway light fixtures, or bullet lights, and place them under shrubs or within a plant bed. Be sure to use subtle lighting to create a layers effect: just enough to add interest without taking away the magic of the night time atmosphere.
Choose one or two prominent landscape features, such as a mature tree, a sculpture, retaining wall, or even the side of the home, and illuminate it from below using a spotlight. This technique places a light fixture at the base of the structure and points it upward to dramatically highlight the textures and cast some ambient light around it as well, as the light will bounce off onto nearby objects.
If your fire pit area is close to the home and that part of the home features a relatively blank wall, consider a technique called washing. Similar to spotlighting, this method directs light at the vertical surface but from a greater distance and less of an angle. The resulting effect is softer and the light bouncing off the surface will do a great job at providing ambient light.
Modern light-emitting diode (LED) light fixtures are small and can be integrated into any vertical structure: a retaining wall, a privacy fence, or any permanent seating around your fire pit. This reduces the visual clutter of having a lot of freestanding light fixtures around your outdoor living space. In general, you want to orient these lights downward so that the light energy is directed where it’s most needed: the ground; and to prevent a blinding effect.
If your backyard features any large, mature trees, you could add magic to the setting with a lighting technique called moonlighting. This involves placing a bluish-white light fixture high in the tree canopy and pointing it downward. The effect is that of moonlight filtering through the tree, and some amazing dancing shadows on the ground.
Today’s string lights are a wonderful way to add a festive atmosphere to your outdoor living space. There are many styles available, and today’s string lights often come in an LED format for significantly longer bulb lifespan. This means that once they’re installed, you can forget about them for many years: so have string lights installed anywhere you like: within a pergola, between trees, or anywhere around your fire pit area that you want to create a fun atmosphere.
Related: Why a Fire Pit Becomes the Prime Destination of the Backyard Patio in Hinsdale, IL
Do you see your driveway as a utilitarian feature or a design statement that boots your home’s curb appeal? The good news is that it can be both. If you’re ready for a driveway renovation, let yourself be inspired by these landscaping trends for an updated driveway in Wheaton, IL.
Related: Brighten Up Your Driveway With These 5 Landscape Design Trends in Wheaton, IL
Choose Permeable Pavers
If you think of pavers as a luxury item, you’re not wrong; but, they are actually surprisingly affordable, especially when you consider the long term. First, permeable pavers are much more beautiful than poured concrete or asphalt. They can mimic the look of natural stone or have their own modern flair.
But the real value of permeable pavers is in the superior durability of the driveway. Solid surface driveways will, over time, crack and heave due to natural soil movement. As well, any water that falls on the surface has nowhere to go except your landscaping or the municipal storm drain system (if there is one). By contrast, permeable pavers feature a special substrate and larger joints between the pavers to allow surface water to seep into the ground. This prevents standing water (and ice build-up) on the driveway, and it prevents flooding. The pavers themselves are extremely durable and designed to move very slightly, independent of each other, which means that your driveway will never develop ugly cracks or frost heaves due to the freeze-thaw cycle.
If you’re worried about snow plows damaging your pavers, now is the perfect time to install a driveway heating system that will virtually eliminate the hassle of plowing and deicing. This system can also be used under your walkway (and in the backyard, on your paver patio) to make your landscape much safer and more usable any time of year.
Pavers really shine when it comes to creativity. They give you so many design choices that will complement your home and landscaping. Choose from a variety of styles, textures, colors, and finishes and make your driveway a key focal point. You could also add decorative borders, a driveway apron, inlays, and built-in LED lighting.
Landscape Your Driveway
If you decide to go with a driveway heating system, you can move plantings closer to the driveway without fear of damage from snow plows. This lets you turn a featureless space (a swath of driveway cutting through a lawn) into a gorgeous botanical garden-style landscape. And if you utilize native plants, this landscaping strategy will be about as low-maintenance as it gets. Native plants are water-wise, hardy, and take far less maintenance than lawns. More dimensional plantings along the driveway also give you the opportunity for creative landscape lighting that’s set in the greenery for a layered effect.
While pavers are a bigger upfront investment than many other driveway surfaces, ultimately the rewards both in terms of beauty, utility, and durability are also greater. Over the long term, when an asphalt or poured concrete driveway has been patched, resurfaced, or completely redone, is when the savings will really add up.
If your driveway is long, part of this landscaping strategy could involve a low wall, to add interest. This wall could be along one or both sides of the driveway. It could be a rustic stacked fieldstone wall, or a more substantial mortared wall where you could incorporate landscape lighting to bring soft illumination to the entire length of the driveway. A wall gives your home an estate feel.
If your driveway is shorter and you want to add a unique touch, consider a series of large, colorful planters along the driveway that you could fill with seasonal color and holiday decorations.
Related: 5 Landscape Design Ideas for a Modern Permeable Driveway in Wheaton, IL