Tips to Keep in Mind to Build Strong Retaining Walls

retaining wall
Introduction

Retaining walls serve various functions, including decreasing soil erosion, transforming cliffs into terraced backdrops, and providing favorable circumstances in the landscape. If you live on a hill, you would need a retaining wall to keep the higher soil stress at home. Based on your preferences, they may be rustic, classic, or contemporary.

Considering their simplistic nature, these walls require meticulous preparation. In some cases, professional engineering preserves their shape. A simple retaining wall can have to withstand up to 20 tons of soil pressure.

The weight of the soil rises significantly with each incremental foot of height. Shorter retaining walls may be built by eager do-it-yourselfers with a limited understanding of architecture. These retaining wall construction tips will get you off to a decent start. Also, if you want to get your hands dirty and improve your landscape with a retaining wall.

Types of retaining walls

retaining wall

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Constructing a retention wall necessitates knowledge of the proper structure to use. A strong retaining wall must support the soil load, which we can accomplish in various ways. The following are examples of typical retaining wall models at Live Enhanced:

Gravity walls

This wall depends entirely on its pressure to support the burden from higher soil. There have been no force variables to help keep the wall in place against the soil’s push. This form of the wall is popular, but it is susceptible to fracturing or toppling, notably as the soil weight steadily increases during the monsoon season.

Piling walls

Applying additional dirt to the front side of the wall is deeply planted in the earth. It implies that the soil serves as an opposition force on both sides of the fence, trapping it in place.

Cantilever walls

This wall has an expanded bottom section that extends to the edge of the higher soil. The extension serves as a stabilizing lever for the entire system. For added balance, the lower portion of the wall is usually constructed wider.

Anchor wall

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By utilizing a cable and anchor to secure it in place, this wall reinforces its location. The anchor is buried deep in the higher soil, which assists in the wall’s resilience against soil drive. This wall form can be combined with other wall types such as cantilever or stacking.

Both retaining walls must have a stable foundation and a well-balanced framework to handle soil loads effectively. It would be best if you started worrying about components once you have determined the framework.

Tips to consider before constructing retaining walls


The base must be sturdy

Your retaining wall’s support network will decide how solid it is. A trench packed with three inches of crushed rock can help prevent a stacked block. The retaining wall must not be elevated than four feet from moving and settling. The trench’s precise extent would rely on the wall’s planned height, but here’s a general rule of thumb: Excavate a canal that is an eighth of the wall’s length plus three inches.

For instance, if you want the retaining wall to be three feet tall when completed. Then, you would need to create the trench eight inches deep to hold three inches of crushed rock and around five inches below ground to begin the structure.

Get it accessed from the officials

Since the effect of a retention wall on the natural flow of water can influence your neighbors. Certain municipalities mandate homeowners to receive approval before starting building. To guarantee that installing a retention wall would not trigger flooding concerns, you will need to send your wall plans and arrange an estate assessment.

Place the blocks at a gradual incline

retaining wall

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A wall that bends into the soil it holds is less prone than a straight vertical wall to be forced externally by soil pressure. Plan and install the retention wall to slopes at a minimum of one inch per foot of height.

Working with retaining wall blocks renders constructing this “step-back” structure surprisingly simple! Any block’s bottom edge has a retaining flange that directs it into place marginally behind the lower block, keeping the top leagues from being moved outside.

Do not fail to leave enough space for underground water disposal

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The natural opponent of retaining walls is groundwater. Clay-type soils swell when saturated, putting undue weight on the backside of the wall. Make irrigation arrangements at the same time as you create the retaining barrier to prevent collapse.

Backfilling the gap behind the blocks with crushed stone and then adding a rigid corrugated drainpipe at the structure’s foundation could provide the requisite groundwater escape path. The perforated pipe would transport groundwater to either end of the wall, where it will safely flow away. To disguise their presence, cover them with crushed stone.

Build several tiered walls instead of a single tall wall

Although retaining walls higher than four feet must be designed by architects. You might be able to DIY a remedy for a steep slope by constructing two or shorter “tiered” retaining walls rather than one tall wall.

A series of short walls add visual contrast, and each division can carry less soil weight, reducing the probability of failure. When constructing a tiered retaining wall system, mount the higher wall behind the bottom surface at a range of double the lower wall’s length. It stops the upper one from putting more pressure on the bottom one.

Choose a material that is easy to deal with

retaining wall

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Retaining walls may be built of a range of components, from reinforced concrete, large timbers, natural stones, and even bricks. Choose engineered blocks explicitly made for retaining walls for DIY reasons. 

A securing flange along the lower end provides a stable connection between rows.

Don’t lay Stones on uneven space

Since the first phase sets the tone for the entire wall, it must be level. If it isn’t, successive rows would be uneven, culminating in a crooked and unsightly retaining wall.

Before you begin placing the blocks, use a four-foot carpenter’s scale to guarantee that the gravel layer under the first set of blocks is even. Any inconsistencies would show up further up on the wall.

A proper backfill is a must!

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Once you have installed your drainpipe, backfill the remaining room behind the bricks. Water would be able to filter down to the drainpipe at the bottom of the wall in this case. 

After setting each brick course, backfill with a few inches of the materials and compress it with a hand interfere for the best performance. 

You will verify that the backfill is securely sealed by tamping it for a few meters, which will provide extra protection from the soil’s weight behind the wall.

Common materials used in retaining walls

retaining wall

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A residential retaining wall may be more diverse than retaining walls on the streets or hills, which consume energy over style. You can play with products that match your house and garden if the soil load is comparatively low.

Timber

The farmhouse-style look of the timber retaining wall is suitable for a backyard garden. To complement a vegetable garden, flower bed, or lawn, you may build a diagonal “fence” or horizontal wooden beams. If you want a lighter look, go for wooden boards or plywood.

Natural stones

A retaining wall made of large stones or rock boulders would have a rustic, fort-like appearance. They are tough, can survive the elements, and provide natural elegance without a lot of extras. They go well with flower and vegetable gardens in the backyard.

Concrete

If you require additional protection against soil load, a concrete retaining wall is ideal. While some people hate concrete because of its “simple” appearance, you can achieve a modern look by pairing it with a well-kept lawn or landscaped garden.

Bricks

For a retaining wall, bricks are a timeless alternative. Your backyard will be enriched by the vintage-looking brick retaining wall. However, you must preserve the surface regularly, as moss will rapidly expand and degrade the base over time.

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