(BPT) – Humpty Dumpty had the right idea when he sat on a wall, as segmental retaining wall (SRW) systems can be used to create beautiful, versatile outdoor seating solutions. Many businesses expanded outdoor seating out of necessity over the past two years, and retaining walls were up for the challenge.
Homeowners also prefer retaining walls for landscaping projects such as seat walls around a fire pit or to create a raised patio to replace a deck. Renowned for the ability to retain earth to prevent erosion and tame slopes to create buildable sites, SRWs, including the VERSA-LOK Retaining Wall System, are beautiful, durable and low-maintenance open-air seating solutions.
Dining al fresco
A beautiful outdoor living space is a wise home investment, and it’s also become a necessity for hospitality businesses. Many facilities lacking patios built temporary or permanent outdoor spaces for guests during the pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association, outdoor dining is vital to the industry’s post-pandemic survival and expanding outdoor dining remains a critical need in replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund federal grant program.
After purchasing a tavern in Wisconsin, Darryl Holley hired Ziegler’s Landscapes by Design to build an outdoor entertainment area just a few weeks before the pandemic required temporary closure of the business. Landscaping was deemed an essential business and work continued. Ziegler’s created a low freestanding retaining wall that serves as seating for lawn game spectators and concert-goers. ‘The only regret we have is that we didn’t make the patio bigger,’ said Holley. ‘Live music outside draws a lot of people.’
Homeowners in Stillwater, Minnnesota, wanted to replace an aging wooden deck while preserving the view of their woods. ‘With a raised patio design, you have many more design options,’ said Andrew Lofboom, a landscape designer with Villa Landscapes. ‘We used VERSA-LOK to build the support for a paver patio on top. The cost of a raised patio can be less than replacing a deck, and it affords homeowners the option to expand in the future, such as adding an outdoor kitchen or seat walls.’
Lofboom chose the VERSA-LOK Standard retaining wall system because it makes both design and installation easier. With a mechanical pinning system and no hollow cores to fill, VERSA-LOK is renowned for versatility, durability and flexibility for creating curves, columns, multi-angled corners and tiers needed for stunning outdoor designs.
SRWs are surprisingly economical for stadium, stage and outdoor classroom seating at schools, parks and sporting venues. An amphitheater at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls was renovated with a VERSA-LOK Mosaic retaining wall system chosen to replace crumbling limestone seating on the slope across from the bandshell. The elements had taken a toll on the amphitheater, built in 1972 of local limestone. ‘Natural stone was out of our budget, so we went with VERSA-LOK,’ said Joe McIntosh, a grounds supervisor.
When Lawrence, Kansas, school officials learned that aluminum bleachers could not be manufactured in time for football season at their new stadium and that they would run about $400 a seat, they searched for a faster and more economical solution. Landplan Engineering and Capitol Concrete Products of Lawrence showed the district that it could save $100-200 per seat by using VERSA-LOK Standard retaining wall units and finish the job in time for the fall season.
Retaining walls for the win
While SRWs are best known for site development, erosion control and transitioning slopes in a landscape, they also are a solid solution for outdoor seating. From sitting walls and raised patios to stadiums and tiered, bermed seating, retaining walls get the job done beautifully and on budget.