Keystone Retaining Wall Systems Transform Lakeside Backyard

By Keystone | July 18, 2017

A Michigan-based design and construction firm used Keystone Compac - Hewnstone to create elegant, long-lasting concrete masonry walls, terraces, patios, and a staircase

When Darren Yanke, owner and operator of Yanke’s Design & Construction, surveyed the backyard of the Orion Township residence to write up a bid, he saw wooden retaining walls, stairs and a deck that were aged, rotting, and on the verge of failing. At the same time, he envisioned beautiful and long-lasting concrete masonry walls, terraces, flowing staircase and multi-level patios he could create with a concrete masonry wall system and pavers.

He captured his design ideas and the costs on paper, submitted it to the homeowners, and months later, his mindscape was a landscape reality. The lakeside backyard had been transformed; the homeowner was delighted, the neighbors envious.

Because the site had a twenty-foot grade change from the average lake level to the far edge of the backyard, and the soil in the area required a design that addressed soil stability, Yanke knew this project required a structural wall product and geogrid reinforcement which meant he would use his go-to wall, the Keystone Compac® - Hewnstone, manufactured by Fendt Builder’s Supply, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Yanke’s company was awarded the job. They obtained construction permits and performed demolition and cleanup. They built the engineered walls, staircase and patios as well as the finishing touches, plant installation, grading, sod and final cleanup. The result is an impressive landscape of flowing lines and inviting patio areas that rise in terraces from the lake to the house, complemented at every turn by plants and shrubbery.

Compac–Hewnstone installed by Yanke’s Design

Yanke is a long-time fan of Keystone products and in particular, the Keystone Compac - Hewnstone wall system. “The look is simple yet timeless,” he explains. “It fits a lot of my applications because it has a face that projects warmth and elegance, and is perfect for jobs where you need a structural wall with staying power but not the rugged, cold, industrial look typical of that type of wall block. And it’s very competitively priced.”

The Keystone Compac unit is popular among specifiers for its aesthetics, cost-saving versatility and proven performance in the field. It is a pinned system that uses ½” x 5 ¼” fiberglass alignment pins. The system allows for positive connections with reinforcement to build taller engineered walls.

Ease of installation is another benefit of the Keystone Compac unit. Its lighter weight and shorter tail design make it easier to handle than other structural wall systems. The unit shape allows for the tight radius curves found in this project design. Installation options include near-vertical or battered setbacks.

 “This wall is a winner,” Yanke states. “I’ve used it on many sites. In the 38 years that I’ve been a landscape designer and builder, I like to use the type of product that look like it’s part of nature, like it belongs where it’s been installed. I resist products that are trendy. The Compac - Hewnstone is that classic, high-performing wall that keeps bringing in the business.”


Project design, installation, landscaping: Yanke’s Design & Construction, Novi, Michigan
Hardscape product designer: Keystone Retaining Wall Systems LLC
Hardscape manufacturer: Fendt Builder’s Supply, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Project location: Orion Township, Michigan