I'm planning to have a retaining wall built to hold back about 1 metre
height difference between two gardens. I guess the footings will extend
about 1 metre below the surface of the "low" garden. There are some trees
within 50 cm of the planned location of the wall, their trunk diameters
range between about 5cm and 20cm. I don't want to kill or substantially harm
The builder I'm getting a quote from says he will put lintels into the wall
and footings so that roots larger than about 1cm in diameter don't have to
be cut. Is this a sensible approach, for the trees and/or the wall?
I get the feeling, that the roots will eventually invade and upset things.
I have a back fence and a gate that was put there by the land owner of
the land behind me and I have the same problem. Next door had a tree,
whose roots have lifted my path, so I can only just squese past the gate
The point is not how big the trees are but how big they will be when full
grown - if they are to be allowed to do so. You could make nice little bays
in the wall if you wanted to make features of them. All depends on how you
get on with your neighbour really.
It might be better to build the retaining wall with purpose made dry
concrete blocks. When the roots cause any future movement you can
always tear it down and do it again. Plenty of info out there just
Google for "dry block retaining wall".
That's a good idea but they tend to be expensive. Crib walling offers
similar benefits but usually at a lower cost. Concrete and timber
crib systems are available, and my personal preference is timber.
Alternatively, use gabion baskets filled with stone.
'Its not a case of harming the trees its the other way round, trees as
they grow can push a wall out of line or even over.'
That is not necessarily the case. It is astonishing to me how plants and
even trees seem to be able to sense what is next to them and simply
incorporate it rather than pushing it out of the way. In the countryside
you will see many a fence - even a wooden one - buried deep within trees as
they have simply incorporated it as they grew. I have even seen an iron
bedstead with thick boughs growing right through it without bending it at
all. In cemeteries you often can see gravestones half embedded in tree
trunks yet still in place on their graves. And on a slightly different
note, it always impresses me when I find mushrooms with grass growing right
through them without having been bent 'off course' at all.
I think that generally it is the wind rock, and drought, that weakens walls
rather than the trees themselves actually pushing them. Down the road from
me was for many years an old oak in the middle of the pavement. The estate
maker had made a little circular wall round it, and it served as a handy
seat and pleasant feature for many years: modern councils, unfortunately,
are chainsaw, strimmer and weedkiller happy, so our trees all end up
decapitated, ringbarked, and trying to grow in poisonous, dead, dust - like
that it only takes an extra puff of wind and they are over. (Mind you, have
you noticed how in American TV series, they all seem to be able to have
luxuriant and un 'pruned' street trees - despite their supposedly litigious
nature, lucky b's.)
Have you considered using gabions (rock filled mesh baskets)? They can
rest on the soil at the lower level, steel staked before filling to
restrict lateral movement and no disruption to the roots at all.
1m height and 4m from a building is a very do-able with these.
The only neg I can think of would be having 750mm to 1m of the basket
visible on the high side if that would bother you.
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