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Humpty Dumpty had the right idea when he sat on a wall.

Seg­men­tal re­tain­ing wall (SRW) units are a pop­u­lar so­lu­tion for beau­ti­ful and durable out­door seat­ing – from free­stand­ing walls that dou­ble as seat­ing and two-tiered couches to large ap­pli­ca­tions such as cost-ef­fec­tive am­phithe­ater and sta­dium seat­ing.

Land­scape pro­fes­sion­als and do-it-your­selfers can build seat­ing op­tions from these multi-pur­pose units that are a trusted so­lu­tion for soil re­ten­tion, ero­sion con­trol and to mit­i­gate grade changes in the land­scape.

Res­i­den­tial seat­ing

“Re­tain­ing walls are both durable, beau­ti­ful and ver­sa­tile tools of the trade,” said Scott Arnold, man­ager of Villa Land­scapes in St. Paul, Min­nesota. “Our land­scape de­sign­ers use re­tain­ing wall sys­tems to cre­ate hard­scapes such as fire fea­tures, raised pa­tios, planters and other out­door liv­ing ameni­ties in ad­di­tion to re­tain­ing walls, tiered seat walls and free­stand­ing walls.”

The solid, pinned units pro­vide ex­treme ver­sa­til­ity and ease of in­stal­la­tion.

“VERSA-LOK is an ideal build­ing block for tiered wall seat­ing and even am­phithe­ater seat­ing be­cause of its out­stand­ing abil­ity to cre­ate curves, cor­ners, col­umns and tiers with the sin­gle Stan­dard unit and no spe­cial pieces,” Arnold said.

A couch kit is one pop­u­lar use of the VERSA-LOK re­tain­ing wall units, said Arnold. The curved couch with a tiered back pro­vides seat­ing for up to four peo­ple, and stepped ends make an at­trac­tive ac­cent. It can be in­stalled in a paver pa­tio or as a stand-alone seat­ing in the gar­den.

A ver­sa­tile tool

Seat walls can be worked into many land­scap­ing de­signs. Free­stand­ing seat walls can frame a square or cir­cu­lar pa­tio to cre­ate an out­door room, dou­bling the func­tion and value of the re­tain­ing wall.

“Some of our most pop­u­lar in­stal­la­tions fea­ture fire­places on a pa­tio or a fire ring sur­rounded by a seat wall,” added Kelly O’Don­ahue, a land­scape de­signer with Villa. “Seat walls or a hard­scape couch around a fire fea­ture are use­ful and beau­ti­ful ad­di­tions to any out­door liv­ing space that you can en­joy all sea­son.”

SRWs can be used to re­place an ag­ing deck by cre­at­ing a raised pa­tio to grade, said Arnold. A free­stand­ing seat wall can be built within the raised pa­tio to serve as seat­ing, to de­fine the out­door room and pro­vide a mea­sure of fall pro­tec­tion.

Com­mer­cial seat­ing

Event spa­ces such as sta­di­ums, court­yards, out­door class­rooms and am­phithe­aters have ben­e­fit­ted

from eco­nom­i­cal out­door seat­ing so­lu­tions us­ing SRWS. Staff at the In­ter­na­tional in­sti­tute of St. Louis wanted to cre­ate an event space in an area that had a crum­bling cin­derblock wall sep­a­rat­ing the court­yard from the park­ing lot. Land­scape ar­chi­tect Brad Furfaro worked with the site ar­chi­tect to come up with a tiered wall seat­ing so­lu­tion.

“We met the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful out­door space that looked nice and func­tioned as seat­ing, but also was a struc­ture to hold the park­ing lot hill­side back,” ex­plained Furfaro, who owns Furfaro De­sign-Build Land­scapes in St. Louis. “For a mea­sure of de­sign con­ti­nu­ity, we were also able to use caps that match the SRW units on an ex­ist­ing cin­derblock wall that did not have to be re­moved.””

The new am­phithe­ater-style space seats about 80 peo­ple for out­door train­ing and events.

“One chal­lenge was a grade change from the base of the wall to the top and also a hor­i­zon­tal grade change from one end to the other,” Furfaro said. “The slope and seat­ing starts out four feet on the east end and grad­u­ates to more than six feet on the west end. I had not used VERSA-LOK in this way be­fore, but I knew that it’s a block that I can do any­thing with.”

It’s a good idea to sit on a wall when so many out­door liv­ing fea­tures can be cre­ated with SRWs. From curved couches and free­stand­ing seat­walls to am­phithe­aters and sta­dium seat­ing, re­tain­ing wall units not only func­tion as they were in­tended but also of­fer new so­lu­tions for out­door liv­ing projects.

A two-tiered re­tain­ing wall is a pop­u­lar so­lu­tion to re­tain soil and add seat­ing. One tier func­tions as the seat and the sec­ond tier as a re­tain­ing wall and the back­rest for the first tier.

A free­stand­ing wall helps to de­fine this out­door liv­ing space as well as pro­vide ad­di­tional seat­ing around the pa­tio and firepit.

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