Building Retaining Walls: Dos And Don'ts

Building Retaining Walls: Dos And Don'ts


Building Retaining Walls: Dos And Don'ts

If you live on a slope, learn about a landscaping method that can help prevent soil erosion while also beautifying your backyard and how simple it can be to DIY with the correct supplies.


Retaining walls serve numerous functions, including reducing soil erosion, transforming steep slopes into terraced backdrops, and establishing focal points in the landscape. Indeed, they are some of the most typical solutions to problems created by mountainous terrain! Retaining walls that are well-built convert inaccessible gradients into usable garden space.


Despite their modest look, these walls require careful planning and often professional engineering to maintain their shape. Because soil is heavy, especially when moist from a recent downpour, a bare retaining wall (four feet in height and 15 feet long) may have to withstand up to 20 tons of soil pressure. The pressure of the soil increases significantly with each extra foot of height. Miscalculate your construction plans, and you risk having a weak wall that bulges or, worse, collapses entirely. For this reason, retaining walls taller than four feet should be designed and built by professionals.


On the other hand, shorter retaining walls can build by eager do-it-yourselfers with some essential construction experience. Does it describe you? If you want to get your hands dirty & improve your landscape with a retaining wall, these retaining wall building rules can help you get started.


Remember To Check With The Authorities

Because the effect of a retaining wall on the natural flow of water may affect your neighbors, several towns require homeowners to get a permit before work begins. To guarantee that erecting a retaining wall does not cause drainage issues, you may need to submit blueprints and schedule a land inspection.


While you're at it, call DigSafe (811), a statewide program that notifies local utility companies that you intend to dig. These can identify whether or not their underground wires will be in the way and pinpoint their exact location.


DO Choose A Material That Is Simple To Work With

Retaining walls can build from various materials, including poured concrete and massive timbers, natural stones, and even bricks. Choose premade blocks specifically designed for building retaining walls for DIY purposes; a locking flange along the bottom edge creates a secure attachment between rows. These blocks (available in grey and earthy tones with smooth or textured faces, as seen at The Home Depot) are available at almost any home improvement store and many garden centers.


DO Begin With A Solid Foundation

The strength of your retaining wall determines by its support system. A three-inch-deep trench filled with crushed rock will help protect a four-foot-high stacked-block retaining wall from shifting and settling. The desired height of the wall determines the actual depth of the track, but use the following rule of thumb: Excavate a trench the length of the wall plus three inches. For example, if you want your retaining wall to be three feet (36 inches) tall when done, you'll need to dig the trench eight inches deep to accommodate three inches of crushed rock and around five inches (or an eighth of the visible retaining wall) to begin the wall below grade.


Do Not Place The Block On An Uneven Surface

The first course (or row of bricks) sets the tone for the rest of the wall, so make sure it's the exact level. If it isn't, succeeding rows will be uneven, resulting in a crooked and unsightly retaining wall. Before setting the blocks, use a four-foot carpenter's level to confirm that the gravel layer beneath the first course of blocks is level. Any differences here will be visible further up on the wall.


Do Stack Blocks On A Slight Incline

A wall that leans toward the soil it holds is less likely than a straight vertical wall to be pushed outward by soil pressure. Create a retaining wall that slopes at a minimum of one inch for every foot of rising (height). Fortunately, working with retaining wall bricks makes this "step-back" building a breeze! Every block's bottom locking flange leads it to click into position slightly behind the lower block, preventing the top blocks from being forced outward.


Remember To Leave Room For Drainage

Retaining walls' natural adversary is groundwater. When it saturates clay-type soils, they swell & place undue strain on the rear of the wall. Make drainage facilities simultaneously as you create the retaining wall to avoid failure. Backfilling the gap behind the blocks with crushed stone and then adding a flexible perforated drainpipe, sometimes known as "drain tile," at the foot of the wall could provide groundwater with an escape route. Groundwater will be carried to each end of the wall by the perforated pipe, where it will drain harmlessly away. The drainpipe should then leave at each end of the wall and can disguise its appearance by covering them with crushed stone.


Do The Backfilling Right

After you've installed your drainpipe, fill the remaining area behind the blocks with sand or pea gravel either will enable water to trickle through to the drainpipe at the base of the wall. For the most outstanding results, backfill with a few inches of the material after laying each course of blocks, then compact the cloth with a hand tamper. Tamping the backfill every six inches will ensure that it is securely packed, providing extra support from the soil pressure behind the wall.


DON'T Build A Single Towering Wall If You Can Make Numerous Tiered Walls

While retaining walls more extensive than four feet should be designed by a professional, you may be able to DIY a solution for a steep slope by constructing two or lesser "tiered" retaining walls rather than a single tall wall. A sequence of short walls adds aesthetic texture, and each division supports less soil weight, reducing the likelihood of failure. When constructing a tiered series of retaining walls, place the higher wall twice as far behind the lower wall as the lower wall's height. For example, if the lower border is three feet tall, the higher wall should be at least six feet away from it, preventing the higher one from putting pressure on the lower one.


Why Should You Hire GTACrete?

As you deal with GTAcrete, you will be able to plan the scene or open-air living area you have long desired. We offer a trouble-free interaction compared to working with a conventional arranging organization. Call us today to learn more about our authorized and secure scene and hardscaping administrations in Toronto GTA, or use our quick web-based structure.


GTAcrete is a fully protected and recognized provider of development and counseling administrations in the Greater Toronto Area. We have been in the industry for many years. When you choose to work with our team, you can expect accurate estimates and high-quality artistry. We will consider the nuances that are important to hiring employees and the clients they serve. Have the assurance that you will be satisfied with the results. Contact us for a free assessment based on your needs and budget. 


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