If you’re like most homeowners, you want to add some vibrancy and a centralized focal point to your yard. But what’s the best way to go about it? For many people, the idea of adding hardscaping such as a retaining wall or a rockery is ideal, but all too often, there’s some confusion as to the difference between the two. However, because they both have different purposes, we want to make sure that you understand the best way to make them work for your yard.
What is a Rockery?
Simply put, this is a rock garden that uses a variety of loose stones and alpine plants. Typically speaking, rockeries are used on a slope, but they can be deployed in a variety of areas, making them both versatile and eye-catching.
What is a Retaining Wall?
While a rockery is mostly there for decoration and aesthetics, a retaining wall serves a particular purpose. These installations are there to either terrace your yard or hold back soil so that it doesn’t erode. As with rockeries, they are best utilized in sloped areas, but you can build a retaining wall almost anywhere.
How to Decide Which One is Best
Each yard is different, so you may benefit from either a rockery or a retaining wall (or both, if you have space). To help you figure out which option is ideal for your situation, consider these questions.
How Much Space Do You Have?
For the most part, rockeries require more space than a retaining wall. Because you have to install both rocks and plants, you need to be sure that you have sufficient room for both. Retaining walls can be as small or as large as you like, although if they’re more than four feet high, you’ll have to get a construction permit.
What is Your Budget?
Because rockeries don’t have to follow any set pattern or require a foundation, you can install one for much less than a retaining wall. Comparing the costs of different rocks and alpine plants, you can usually complete your project for less than you may imagine.
With retaining walls, the price comes from a few factors, including-
- Cost of rocks and building materials
- The scope of the project (how much material do you need)
- Drainage pipes
What Aesthetic Do You Want?
Rockeries are ideal if you want to incorporate a lot of plant life into your yard. Although you can mix and match different designs for a retaining wall, the fact is that it will be a lot of masonry without much in the way of natural vegetation.
The other thing to consider about the appearance is that rockeries can be more appealing because of the variety in stones and plants. Retaining walls will be much more uniform and can make your yard seem more utilitarian in the process.
How Much Maintenance Does It Need?
When building a retaining wall, you have to create a solid foundation, as well as install a drainage pipe so that it won’t erode over time. However, as long as you do the right preparation at first, you don’t have to maintain the wall. In some cases, you might have to clean it or remove weeds from between the stones, but that’s it.
Rockeries are similarly low maintenance, but it mostly depends on the kinds of plants you install. While the roots shouldn’t disturb the stones much, you will have to worry about pruning and treating the plants. Depending on where you live, this may require more effort, especially if you don’t get much rainfall.
For the most part, rockeries are built for decoration, while retaining walls serve a purpose. However, that being said, you can incorporate both elements into a functional outdoor space.
For example, you can create a pathway through your rockery with ease – all it takes is a line of smooth stones, and you’re all set. With a retaining wall, you can add steps and incorporate it into a walkway.
Overall, though, it’s easier to make a retaining wall multi-functional because you’re building it from scratch. Thus, if you want to add elements like lighting, seating (i.e., putting a bench into the wall), you can plan it all out from the outset.
Rockeries, on the other hand, are limited mostly to walkways, water elements (such as a pond or fountain), and not much else. So, if you’re trying to build a practical outdoor area, a retaining wall will be a better option.
Contact B&D Rockeries Today
No matter which option you choose, you have to make sure that you’re starting with the best materials. At B&D Rockeries, we have a wide selection of stones and rocks that will work well in both rockeries and retaining walls. Our design team can also help you pick out the elements that will make your installation shine.
Whether you plan on building everything yourself or you want some professional assistance, we’re here for you. Contact us today to find out what options you have and how you can get started on your outdoor project.