Garden Retaining Wall Maintenance Tips for Winters

Concrete Retaining & Fencing Systems

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When the days grow shorter and the leaves change colour, you know that winter is just around the corner. However, you might still find the odd day or two to enjoy some fine, milder weather in your yard. Be sure to make use of such opportunities to check the hardscaping elements on your property – things like your pathways and retaining walls – for cracks and other signs of damage. Make sure you rectify any issues before the bad weather days of winter really set in – and check again in the spring to make sure the winter weather hasn’t done any damage.

In fact, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing a thorough check of all hardscaping elements on your property once a season (i.e. every three months). That way you are assured of spotting something amiss and getting it sorted before it turns into a bigger problem. Doing these sorts of regular checks is especially important in the case of retaining walls.

Retaining walls play important roles


Garden retaining walls are sometimes designed simply to create usable outdoor space or convenient-height planting beds, or to add a bit of interest in an otherwise flat yard. However, they’re more commonly designed to control erosion, hold back soil where there is a change in gradient or to terrace yards that originally had a steep slope.

These sorts of garden retaining walls have an important job to do – and their failure can have significant consequences. So, retaining wall maintenance is important in order to make sure they’re always in a fit state to be able to do the important job they were designed to do.

While Slatecrete Paving’s concrete retaining wall systems will need far less care than other types of the concrete block retaining walls, there are still some key retaining wall maintenance factors we suggest you include in your regular retaining wall maintenance check.

1. Weed growth

Weeds are amazing plants – they can grow almost everywhere, including in or on a stackable concrete block or panel retaining wall. The easiest way of retaining wall maintenance is to take care of weed growth is to pull out weeds when they first appear or spray the wall with a weed killer before weeds can take hold and get out of hand.

2. Leaves and plant debris

The masses of falling leaves in autumn and winter will naturally be blown up against any more permanent structure, such as a concrete retaining wall. Piles of leaves, or any other seasonal plant debris, can hide a multitude of sins, especially puddles of water forming up against a wall due to poor landscape grading.

So, it’s important to regularly sweep up and dispose of leaves and other plant debris to enable you to easily see what’s going on at the base of the wall. Also, piles of leaves and plant matter left to rot up against a wall will eventually discolour and stain the wall, leaving unsightly marks and encouraging the growth of unwanted plants, like weeds and fungi.

3. Grading issues

All retaining walls should be designed and built so that rain and water can drain easily. However, if you notice a low spot in which a puddle or two is forming behind or in front of a retaining wall, this could be due to the settling of the compacted soil behind the wall. While usually not serious at first, this is not something that can be ignored.

Make sure you pull back any landscaping – plants, mulch, turf, groundcover, etc – and add enough soil in order to prevent water pooling and enable proper drainage. By keeping any trouble spots filled, you’ll ensure a lifetime of top performance from your Slatecrete retaining wall.

4. Overall wall performance

Slatecrete concrete retaining walls are engineered to last a long time. The high-strength concrete posts and panels are manufactured to handle all types of weather. That said, however, we still recommend seasonal inspection of the actual wall itself – after all, it only takes a few minutes to check your retaining wall, including the posts, blocks or panels and caps.

Look for any movement in the wall from the previous season. If drainage or erosion problems have occurred, causing some minor settling of the wall, you might want to unstack the concrete blocks or panels in that area, raise the settled spot at the wall base, and then restack.

More information

If you need a precast retaining wall or concrete fencing product, talk to the team at Auckland’s Slatecrete Retaining Walls – we have a concrete retaining and fencing solution for every landscape. Get in touch with our retaining walls and fencing team today for a quote.

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