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First up, the gabion: natural stone piled up and held together with wire. It's unexpected and packs both an industrial and natural look. Here's a materials secret: Builders often fill the center with something inexpensive, sturdy and heavy, taking up up a ton of space for less cost. Then higher-quality stone can be poured into the parts we can actually see.
Sometimes just a little bit of texture is all it takes. Rust-ridden sheet metal not only contains your planting beds, but its appearance will actually change over time. The patina will continue to change the longer it's exposed to the elements.
Poured concrete is simple, sleek and surprisingly sophisticated. Did you ever wonder exactly how this is made? Perhaps you thought a huge truck schlepped each piece over, then champion strongmen unloaded them one at a time? Nope! Poured concrete is all about molds and forms. Usually, plywood forms are set up and secured in place. Then the concrete is poured between the pieces. After it sets and dries, the forms are removed, a craftsman adds some finishing touches with acid stain and/or sealer, and KAZAM! you've got modern retaining walls.
Although stacked stone looks super expensive, it's rather affordable. Each piece is simply a thin, 1-inch veneer often stocked in a 6x12 size. In order to install as a retaining wall, a contractor first builds the structure out either with pressure-treated plywood or poured concrete. The veneer acts simply as a facade. One thing that definitely drives up cost is mitered corners. This involves hundreds of cuts with a wet saw which takes way more time than simply, stacking, staggering and adding mortar.