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How to Creatively Utilize Different-Sized Old Slabs for Stunning Retaining Walls

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Repurposing old materials can be a fantastic option if you want to give your garden a fresh makeover while being eco-conscious. One intriguing approach is reusing old concrete slabs to construct captivating retaining walls. Today, we'll delve into Sara's question: how to artfully combine and reuse slabs of varying sizes to craft visually engaging and functional retaining walls.

Sara got inspired by my earlier blog post about constructing retaining walls from reclaimed slabs. Impressed by the beauty of large-slab retaining walls like those by Wilde Weelde that I photographed in the Floriade Exhibition 2023 in the Netherlands, Sara reached out with her query. She revealed her desire to use her collection of old slabs—measuring 45 x 45, 60 x 60, and the vintage 60 x 45—to create enchanting retaining walls.

"I think your large slab retaining wall is really beautiful. I am reusing lots of old stuff in my garden, and I have to say it's really hard work shifting slabs and stones. Anyway, I have piles of old slabs 3 different sizes - and I'm wondering if you have laid different sizes artfully together - not like the paving packs though. Mine are 45x45, 60x60, and the old 60 x 45."

Let’s study different options for combining different-sized slabs and transforming them into a harmonious retaining wall that enhances the aesthetics and functionality of your outdoor space.



Planning Your Dream Retaining Wall Reusing Old Slabs: A Step-by-Step Guide


1. Solid Foundation is Key

When working with diverse sizes of slabs, especially for edge placement, ensuring a solid foundation is paramount. Consider whether you'll maintain a consistent foundation level or are open to adjusting the foundation's depth. While the latter requires additional effort, it offers the opportunity for an appealing design, lending dynamic flow to your retaining wall.


2. Playing with Different Sizes

Sara's assortment of slabs includes 45 x 45, 60 x 60, and 60 x 45 sizes. Start by envisioning the shape you wish to create. Typically, these slabs are around five to eight centimeters thick or standard 4 inches in the US, allowing for various design possibilities.


3. Crafting Modern Elegance

For a modern aesthetic, experiment with irregular arrangements. Pair longer sides with shorter ones for a contemporary vibe. This not only lends an elegant appearance but also simplifies the construction process.


4. Varying Heights for Visual Interest

To avoid a monotonous appearance, play with different heights. Create visually appealing patterns by alternating higher and lower sections of the wall, offering a sense of balance and harmony.


5. Flowing Lines and Angular Designs

Decide whether you prefer flowing lines or angular designs. For a more fluid look, use varying foundation heights. If angularity appeals to you, maintain a consistent foundation level to achieve that contemporary edge.


6. Achieving Symmetry (or Not)

Decide whether you want a symmetrical or asymmetrical look. While symmetrical arrangements are timeless, asymmetry can offer a contemporary, playful twist.

Incorporating these guidelines, you can create a captivating retaining wall that adds personality and function to your garden. Remember to watch the accompanying video for a more immersive experience, as visualizing the process often helps clarify the steps.


Bringing Your Vision to Life

Repurposing old slabs for retaining walls marries sustainability with creativity, resulting in an enchanting garden feature. Whether you opt for modern angularity or classic symmetry, each design choice contributes to your unique outdoor haven. Check out the video above to get ideas and explore the various design options. Let your garden dreams flourish with innovation, old materials, and artistic flair.





PS. I got this lovely note from Sara after sending her my small recording about how to reuse her old concrete slabs: "Thank you so much. It is me who now feels inspired. That's amazing." - Sara




Turn your Pinterest board full of garden dreams into reality with a set of solid guidelines to follow. It takes only 3 minutes, but the results will serve you for a lifetime.