Retaining walls have to be made of strong materials - stone, concrete blocks, bricks, wood, sheet metal or reinforced concrete. They also require drains to relieve water build-up, unless you use a permeable material like dry stone or timber. Consult a structural engineer for advice on any impermeable retaining wall above 3 feet in height.DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Contemporary Raised Bed
Essentially low retaining walls, raised beds do not need to be as strong or as heavy as larger structures. They can also be more beautifully designed, rather than serving a purely functional purpose. Line beds with heavy-duty plastic (with drainage holes punched in the bottom) to retain soil moisture and avoid leakage and staining.
Although susceptible to knocks and dents, metal lends a contemporary note to raised beds. Pick lighter colored and galvanized metals over darker metals; they conduct less heat and are therefore less likely to scorch plant roots.
Beautifully detailed wood beds, finished with a gravel margin, can complete a crisp, modern design.DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Charming Basket Beds
Choose materials that compliment the plants you plan to use, as well as the composition of your garden. For example, consider woven beds for vegetables and native planting. They are relatively short-lived and will need replacing after a few years, but they add rustic charm to a kitchen or cottage garden.DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Wood and metal steps must be supported on a solid framework above soil level to prevent rotting or rusting. Solid blocks of stone and concrete can sit directly on the ground on a slope. Consider using smaller units, such as paving stones, with a retaining wall.
Another idea is to use alternative material. These stylish steps are made from galvanized metal risers and bound crushed CDs, a great alternative to gravel.
Strong and durable, these stainless steel grid steps allow plants to creep between them.DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Wood steps supported on posts and bearers, like these, can be built to any height.