SmartSlope®, a public-private venture in Brooklyn, Md., is using concrete and plants to create functional yet aesthetically pleasing retaining walls that provide structural slope retention with the lightest weight-to-coverage ratio in the industry.
“Our walls provide drip irrigation and can be part of a storm water management plan – they’re essentially vertical rain gardens,” said Jimmy Dick, new product developer for SmartSlope.
Rainwater that permeates the ground above a SmartSlope wall seeps out through it and slowly waters soil pockets spaced along its face, creating an ideal habitat for plants. With time, plant roots help to further stabilize and secure the slope.
The results are striking.
“Traditional segmented retaining wall manufacturers stamp and color concrete to make it more visually appealing, but I think we’ve reached the limits of what’s possible in terms of beautifying cement. It’s still a concrete wall,” said Dick. “We offer a naturally enhanced appearance.”
In addition to the visual benefits, SmartSlope walls are superior to conventional segmented retaining walls because they use 50 percent less concrete. “We’re in the business of converting hardscapes to greenscapes,” said Dick.
SmartSlope received financial backing from Maryland Department of Natural Resources andUniversityofMaryland. They collectively own seven percent of the company.
Since it was launched two years ago, the firm has experienced impressive growth and currently has 65 projects in progress.
“We used to install walls ourselves, but now we focus on consulting with landscape architects, designers and installers – plant selection and engineering, that type of thing,” said Dick.
Most of the firm’s customers are commercial and residential property owners. “We really haven’t done much work on highways, but we have experienced an increase in the size and scope of our projects,” said Dick. “This is gaining favor with time.”