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What To Consider When Building A Retaining Wall

Homes built on slopes can offer spectacular views. Unfortunately, hillside homes can suffer from soil erosion. But thanks to retaining walls, this doesn't have to be an issue. Besides being functional, retaining walls can also add beauty to a landscape. If you're thinking about building a retaining wall, here are some basic considerations.

Soil Type

Your type of soil is a critical factor in building your retaining wall. If you don't know if your soil is sand, clay, granular or something else, have it tested by a geotechnical engineer.

In most cases, granular soils are more suited for retainer walls than clay soils are. Gravel and sand soil not only drain better, but they also do a better job in soil compaction. Also, they don't need as much reinforcement.

Size of the Wall

The most common wall size is the garden wall, which is usually shorter in height than a wall using full-size blocks. This type of retaining wall entails stacking blocks together so that they create a setback that's used for keeping back the soil behind the wall.

Your wall's height depends on factors such as your local building code, soil type and the slope of a hillside. Generally, the maximum height of a wall is under five feet tall, provided it's built on sandy soil and the soil grade behind your wall is flat.

Stronger walls, which use full-size blocks, are much higher. These retaining walls are commonly found at landscape supply yards. They're typically only done by professionals as they involve moving massive amounts of gravel, soil and heavy blocks.

Type of Materials

The type of material for your retaining wall depends on the wall's intended function. In other words, are you building your wall more for aesthetics or for strength? The best retaining walls should be both attractive and durable. The three main types of materials used in constructing retaining walls include:

  • Wood — Wood retainer walls can give your landscape a rustic look. Even better, they're also more affordable than stone or brick walls. Although you can use standard lumber, timber is more popular. Timber, which comes in either brown or green colors, is an ideal choice for people with carpentry skills.
  • Natural stone — Walls made from natural stone are considered the most attractive retaining walls. They come in a wide range of options that can go with almost any type of landscape. On the other hand, they're also the most costly and involve more manpower. The three primary kinds of natural stone walls include rubble wall, boulder and cut stone retaining walls.
  • Blocks — Retainer walls constructed of concrete blocks are both easy and quick to assemble. What's more, they're exceptionally strong. You construct your wall by simply stacking blocks on top of one another. Clips, pins or interlocking edges are used to secure them.

Additional Considerations and Warnings

  • Check with your city law codes to see if you need a permit to build your retaining wall.
  • Be sure your wall complements the structure of your house and the rest of your landscape.
  • Consider what's either above or below your wall.

Building a retaining wall can be a major home project that is not intended for the average homeowner. If you have any hesitations about constructing a retainer wall, talk with a landscape business like Rock Solid Services LLC.

About Me

New Landscape Makes a Yard Feel New Again

Hi. My name is Martha. My husband Leo and I are empty nesters. The last of our three kids moved out of the home about eight years ago. Since that time, we have talked a great deal about retirement and what we wanted to do with our house. The house is slightly too large for just the two of us, but we already have two grandchildren and from the way our kids talk, we are in for plenty more. We have decided to stay in our home since it has plenty of room for our family to come and stay with us from time to time. The one thing we really wanted to change is the backyard. Leo retired last year, and I’ll be retiring in about six months. We are already talking with the landscape contractor, and I’m excited to share some of our plans with you!

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