Friday, September 4, 2009

A beautiful metal retaining wall

Neighbors across the street from friends in the Richmond neighborhood installed a new steel retaining wall early this year. Their lot is on the northeast corner of an intersection, and both sides of the sloped front yard had been covered by that type of no-maintenance juniper planting you see all over Portland. You know, the ones that always smell like cat pee.

The homeowners designed the wall themselves, then had it fabricated. They had weep-holes cut into the metal, and backed them with screening. The wall is installed on heavy-duty footings, as you can imagine.

Once the soil was backfilled they started landscaping this spring. They used lots of Mediterranean and drought-tolerant plants and shrubs: with just one summer's growth, the results are spectacular.

The steel is slowly gaining a nice patina. It's an amazing improvement, and a beautiful solution to retaining the garden slope.

I really like the way the modern lines of the wall complement their attractive midcentury ranch/bungalow. As nice as it already is, it'll be even more interesting as their garden matures around it over the next few years.


  1. I love the architecture of the house. It's an interesting retaining wall, definitely unique. I always think that front yard ground cover of juniper is such a shame, it is such a wrong plant / wrong place example, and usually sheared to reveal ugly stumps and to take away any remaining charm. it gives juniper a bad name. And in the right place, juniper can be so pretty.

  2. LOVE that wall! What a great design and execution, and it does really compliment what we can see of the house. Wish they were my neighbors.

  3. Megan, I agree about the bad rap junipers have: one of my favorite garden accents is Juniperus squamata.

    Loree, my friends are pretty happy with their great view across the street. Now I wish I'd included a wider shot of the whole effect.

  4. Yes...let's see that wide shot. The wall is fabulous. We could all use neighbors with such an inventive approach to age-old challenges.

  5. I'm thinking of doing something similar in Portland, any Idea how thick the steel is?

    1. AD, the steel is 10 gauge cold-rolled mild steel. It happens I talked to the homeowner about the specifics just last weekend!


Thank you in advance for jumping through the annoying but necessary word verification hoop to leave your thoughts!