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4 Popular Retaining Wall Systems

Friday, April 12th, 2013

© Clint Pino, Cornerstone Retaining Walls, Inc.

There are a number of retaining wall systems available on the market today.  Each manufacturer produces its own unique styles, sizes and colors.  However, there are 4 systems that I install more than others.  Their quality & beauty, as well as their ease of installation, make these retaining wall systems a cut above the rest.

The AB Europa® Collection Retaining Wall System

Manufactured by Allan Block, the AB Europa® Collection of retaining wall block is designed to convey an Old World style, replicating the ambiance of an old European village.  During manufacturing, the block is tumbled, which softens the edges & gives it the look of natural stone.  Its rugged, weathered appearance makes it an ideal choice for those preferring a natural or rustic look.

AB Europa® block has a built-in setback & is available in 4 different sizes.  Each size can be used individually or combined to create a number of different patterns (called AB Abbey Blend™ patterns).  They come in 3 different colors:  grey blend, tan blend and red blend.  The colors can also be mixed & matched to add variety & interest.

The AB® Collection Retaining Wall System

With its distinct beveled edges, retaining wall block from the AB Collection captures a classic & timeless look that integrates beautifully into almost any landscape design.   Also manufactured by Allan Block, it comes with a built-in setback & is available in the same sizes & colors as the AB Europa block.

The difference between the AB Europa® block & the AB® Collection block can be found in the edges.   Instead of rough, chiseled edges, AB® Collection block has clearly defined edges that give it a sharp, clean-cut look.  It is ideal for those desiring a more stylish, upscale appearance.

Just as with the AB Europa® Collection, the various sized blocks can be used alone or combined with other sizes to create interesting patterns (called AB Ashlar Blend™ patterns).  Colors can also be mixed.

AB Courtyard Collection™ Retaining Wall System

The AB Courtyard Collection™ is a 2-sided system that is especially manufactured for installing benches, sitting walls and pillars.  It is often integrated into a landscape design as away to enclose a patio area.  This creates a stunning courtyard appearance & also adds boundaries & defining lines to the landscape.

There are 2 styles available.  The AB Courtyard Collection block has clean, classic lines, while the AB Old Country Courtyard Collection block has rugged, weathered lines.  They both come in grey or tan.

Mesa Retaining Wall System

Mesa retaining wall block is a system that works beautifully when the situation calls for a vertical or near-vertical wall.  This is often the case when working in tight spaces.  With no built-in set-back, the wall can be built at a 90 degree angle.   The block comes in just one size & is a very simple, straight-faced block.  Manufactured by Basalite, it is available in 3 different colors.

Choosing a retaining wall system that is best for your situation will depend upon its purpose, the surrounding landscape & your budget.   Many manufacturers also produce pavers that will integrate beautifully with your system.  A supplier or your builder can help you decide which product is right for you.

To see pictures of walls we’ve built using these retaining wall systems or for more information, visit our web site at  To set up an appointment for a free consultation, call Clint at 303-564-4175.

5 Advantages of Using Modular Block for Your Retaining Wall

Friday, January 8th, 2010

© Clint Pino, Cornerstone Retaining Walls, Inc.

Most people think of retaining walls as a functional way to retain soil.  In truth, retaining walls have a myriad of uses.  From a visual standpoint, retaining walls add beauty and visual interest.  From a practical standpoint, retaining walls help control erosion and create more usable space.

However, not all retaining walls are created equal.  Modular block retaining walls, also known as segmental retaining walls, have several added advantages over other material, such as natural stone or timber.  Let’s take a look at them.

1. Options, Options, Options

Once upon a time using modular block for your retaining wall meant you had one choice – a uniform gray block that looked like concrete.  Luckily, those days are gone forever.  Retaining wall block now comes in a wide variety of shapes, colors, sizes, textures and patterns.

Modular block can now replicate the beauty of natural stone or duplicate the look of brick or cobblestone.  The creative block designs and patterns can help you achieve almost any look you desire.  Rustic, old world, classic and antique are a few popular styles.

2. Ease of Installation

One of the most highlighted advantages of using modular block is the ease of installation.  Since the blocks are specifically manufactured to fit together, building the wall is often as easy as stacking one block on top of the other.

In comparison, natural stone or rock retaining walls require the time consuming effort of trying to fit random pieces together.  This makes them highly labor-intensive and costly to install.

Another advantage of retaining wall block is that many designs automatically setback when stacked.  (A setback adds a slight inward slant to the wall which helps to reinforce it.  It is also known as the batter of the retaining wall.)  This built-in system eliminates the time and guesswork needed to properly setback rock or natural stone retaining walls.

3. Easily Integrated

Block can be chosen to compliment your other hardscape material such as pavers and brick.  In addition, retaining wall block can be used to create other beautiful landscape features such as planters, steps, pillars and patio enclosures.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Simply stated, retaining wall block is not chemically-treated and will not harm the environment.  Timber, in turn, has lost its popularity due to the chemicals it releases into the ground which can be harmful to the surrounding vegetation.

5. Long Lasting

It’s been said that the Great Wall of China was built utilizing some of the same methods that are used to build segmental retaining walls today.  Therefore, a well-built segmental retaining wall has the potential to last hundreds of years.  Compare this to the average life span of 15 to 20 years for timber retaining walls and it is easy to see why block is the better choice.

Regardless of what material you choose, the use of a solid foundation, appropriate backfill, proper drainage and good compaction will all contribute towards a retaining wall that will be around for you to enjoy for many, many years.

Cornerstone Retaining Walls, Inc. is located in Evergreen, CO.  Paver installation is now offered in addition to retaining wall construction.  View pictures and get more information at or call Clint at 303-564-4175.

Retaining Walls…an Easy, Affordable Way to Spruce Up any Landscape Design

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Retaining Walls…an Easy, Affordable Way to Spruce Up any Landscape Design

Retaining walls are beautiful structures that can seamlessly be worked into any landscape project. They can add visual interest to the landscape, serve as planters, add usable space to a yard, frame a patio or courtyard, or add a backdrop to other landscape elements.

There’s simply no denying the stunning visual effect that retaining walls have on a landscape design. They add lines, textures, colors and patterns that work harmoniously with other landscape elements in addition to complimenting the natural surroundings. Retaining walls can transform a yard into an old world style courtyard, give it the feel of a Spanish-style villa or an elegant oasis.

There’s a reason that the majority of homebuilders are big proponents of utilizing retaining walls. Retaining walls help to stabilize the slope, support the foundation of the house and reduce runoff. They cut back on the amount of fill needed and reduce disturbance to the natural vegetation. In addition, retaining walls enhance the beauty of a home and add value to it.

The Benefits of Modular Block Retaining Walls

Modular block is the preferred material for landscape retaining walls because it holds up beautifully in a harsh climate, such as we have here in Colorado. Modular block will not rot or decay, nor will it release harmful chemicals into the ground. The result is a retaining wall that not only looks good, but is environmentally friendly and will last a lifetime.

Modular block comes in an exciting variety of shapes, sizes, colors, textures and styles. Two popular styles are tumbled block and the Ashler pattern. Tumbled block has a weathered, antique feel and portrays the look of natural stone. The Ashler pattern is multi-dimensional, that is, it utilizes blocks of different shapes and sizes to create the effect of hand-laid stone. Tumbled block and the Ashler pattern can be combined to create a myriad of different effects. Both come in solid or marbled colors.

Retaining Wall Considerations

Things to consider when installing a retaining wall are base, backfill, drainage, compaction, stabilization and reinforcement. Clean, crushed rock should be used as the base of the wall to provide a firm foundation. It should also be used inside the block and behind the wall to provide proper drainage. Some walls will need to utilize geogrid for added reinforcement and stabilization. A compactor is needed to properly compact the backfill and soil to prevent the retaining wall from moving or shifting.

Whether you have an existing home or are building a new home, whether you live in the city, on the plains, or in the mountains, whether your property is flat, gently sloping or has a steep grade, a retaining wall will add beauty, value, and intrigue to your outdoor environment.

Cornerstone Retaining Walls, Inc. is located in Evergreen, CO and specializes in the installation of modular block.  To view pictures of projects or to get more information, log on to www. or call Clint at 303-564-4175.