All About Retaining Walls
So, What is a Retaining Wall?
Retaining walls are structures designed to restrain soil in places where there is an elevation difference, to slope the soil away from where it can cause damage from erosion or to create a more usable space. Low walls are often used as planting beds, seating walls or to add visual interest to a flat yard.
And, How is a Retaining Wall Built?
Understanding what goes into a proper retaining wall design is helpful when selecting a contractor. Improperly built walls may lean, bulge, crack or even fall over. Ensure your contractor uses proper building techniques and don’t be afraid to ask for references
The grade, drainage and soil type all have a bearing on the type of wall used and it’s construction design.
Key factors in building a retaining wall are:
- BASE – The base material is set below ground level. The taller the wall, the deeper the base required. Base must be compact and level to ensure a sturdy wall.
- BACKFILL – Granular backfill is installed directly behind the wall to allow for drainage when your wall is used to retain soil.
- DRAINAGE – Proper drainage is important to ensure that water doesn’t build up behind your wall and cause bulging and cracking. Where conditions dictate, backfilling may not be enough and weeping tile or even weep holes may be required.
- WALL HEIGHT – Residential walls are generally no more than 3-4 feet in height which provides excellent strength without anchors or additional reinforcement. Higher walls require an engineered design or you can install multiple 3-4 ft walls in a terraced design.
2016 Retaining Wall Trends
- The use of retaining walls for raised garden beds promotes soil drainage and helps keep the critters out of your plants.
- The “conversation pit” or sunken seating area creates a cozy space in your yard. An area is excavated and reinforced by retaining walls on all sides. Often benches and fire pits are incorporated. Steps are then added to access the area.
- A concrete wall product trending in our area is the Rinox Solino wall – the modern, ledge-type look is very popular and the walls can be used to incorporate a water feature.