By definition, a retaining wall is a structure that is used for supporting the soil mass laterally, so that the soil on different sides of the wall is retained at different levels.
Retaining walls are, thus, used to bound two soils between two different terrain elevations in situations where possessing slopes would be undesirable. Such situations include building a basement, but the more common instances when we use retaining walls are gardening and landscaping.
Of course, although it is very easy to assume that a retaining wall is simply a wall that was built to hold a certain type of soil, things are not as simple as they seem. For instance, unlike normal walls that have lateral support at the top, retaining walls don’t. Normal walls are built to bear vertical loads while retaining walls are dealing with horizontal loads.
Obviously, this difference entails different engineering approaches. Unlike the situation when we want to simply separate an empty space, the presence of vertical load can be addressed with the use of gravity walls, piling walls, cantilever walls, and anchored walls.
However, in a huge number of situations (gardening) the vertical pressure is not that horrifying, so the ability of the wall to carry the bear of the load is mostly determined by the ability of the build material to deal with this situation.
Therefore, we will take a look at some of the most common build materials and see how well can they play the role of a retaining wall.
Related:Retaining Wall Ideas | Gabion Wall Ideas | Retaining Wall Alternatives | Backyard Tree Ideas | Backyard Zen Garden Ideas | Lawn Edging Tools
Table of Contents Show
A. 8 Retaining Wall Designs (Diagrams)
Below is a series of diagrams showing how to to make strong retaining walls. We set out several structural approaches.
1. Anchored Wall
2. Cantilevered “L” Wall
3. Cantilever Wall
4. Counterfort Wall
5. Gravity Wall 1
6. Gravity Wall 2
7. Piling Wall
8. Achored Wall (Screw Design)
B. 10 Retaining Wall Materials
1. Concrete Blocks
Concrete blocks are a very modernand sophisticated material. Because it is artificially produced, concrete offers a lot of flexibility and variety to choose from. Also, in spite of the common belief that concrete blocks leave a very sterile impression, this material plays extraordinary well with the Spanish architectural style. Concrete walls are usually designed to be set on a compacted gravel base and remain strong even when you apply pressure.
- Durability – A concrete wall can often last up to a whole century.
- Variety – Concrete blocks come in different shapes and sizes and can be used to create curves.
- Ease of installation – Concrete block walls are usually much easier to install than some other, more labor-demanding block types.
- Low maintenance– You can clean the blocks only once per year.
- Eco-friendly – Concrete walls are non-toxic and they do not emit allergens or dangerous chemicals.
- Architectural demands – Concrete walls have to be carefully designed, so you should ask for a professional advice about the issues of drainage and effective support. Also, the lack of proper support may affect durability.
- Lack of height – Concrete block walls can be used only for walls that are no taller than four feet. So, if you, for instance, want to raise your rose beds to higher levels to protect them from deer, you will have to look for another material.
- Complicated to remove – If you ever decide to change the placement of the wall, you will have to undergo a lot of trouble to dismount it.
Concrete blocks usually have very balanced and uniform prices. Capstones usually cost approximately 95 cents apiece while the average cost of the block is 1-3$.
Stone veneer is a protective materialthat can be used as a decorative covering for vertical walls and surfaces. That means that the veneer itself is a purely aesthetic element and it needs a solid core to even work as a wall (a role usually played by CMU blocks). However, it looks stunning (stone veneer simply oozes luxury) and brings enough of its own unique personality to earn a spot on the list.
- Durability – The natural stone is a powerhouse build material. Stone structures are capable of withstanding centuries of abuse, and your retaining wall (or at least its façade) will be capable as well. It will not fade, and it will not crack.
- Look – Natural stone has a very beautiful aesthetics and texture. Beautiful patterns, unique shapes or even the lichen growing on the rock are very hard to be emulated by other materials.
- Light weight – Although not amongst the lightest materials on the market, stone veneer is reasonably light. That makes building the wall much easier.
- Flexibility – The solid core can be built in literally any thickness or height.
- Cost – Unlike some other, manufactured materials, natural stone is not that affordable.
- The ease of installation – Installation of stone veneers usually involves the services of a professional contractor.
- Design problems – Matching all the individual pieces with existing architecture is not always easy.
- Solid core – Stone veneer is not a freestanding element, so you will have to double the work.
The price of stone veneer usually varies from $6 to $9 per square foot.
3. Poured Concrete
Poured, or how people like to call it cast in place concrete is a very popular architectural option produced by pouring the concrete directly into the forms on the site. Since it looks very clean-cut and sterile, poured concrete plays along the best with the modern-looking surrounding. The ability of the concrete to support the soil load depends on weather conditions and other elements.
- Strength – Since it features much bigger density than block walls, the walls built out of poured concrete are much stronger as a result.
- Variety – Concrete can be poured in any form you can think of. That gives you a lot of design options to choose from.
- Consistent look – The concrete may look sterile, but at least it looks consistent. You always know what you’ll get at the end.
- Flexibility – Poured concrete makes incorporating other architectural elements like, for instance, drainage systems very easy.
- Susceptible to crack – Concrete walls usually need some kind of structural support (e.g. steel rods). If they don’t, they may crack.
- Building requires a lot of skill – The formsyou are going to pour concrete in must be immaculate and perfectly set up. The required skill makes it very difficult residential project.
- Moisture – When exposed to excessive amounts of water, concrete tends to become unacceptably damp. That may damage surface treatments such as paint.
- Vulnerability to chemical damage – Concrete can be easily damaged by a number of chemicals like chlorides, sulfates, and even distilled water.
Estimating the price of the poured concrete is not that easy because you have to take into account the costs of concrete forms, sub-base preparation, reinforcements, and finishing. However, we can say that, on average, the price per square foot varies between $3.25 and $5.25, or $93 per cubic yard.
Brick is one of the most popular building materials, and it is very easy to see the appeal. First, in contrast to concrete, and even stone, bricks feature a very warm and inviting look. They do a wonderful job complementing traditional homes and landscapes. But, the look can push some building material only so far. Bricks have a lot of other good things working for them as well.
- Low maintenance – Brick is a relatively low-maintenance building material. Also, it retains color rather well so you won’t have to bother with painting for too often.
- Eco-friendly – Bricks are made out of some of the most abundant and eco-friendliest materialsin the world – shale, and clay. Also, bricks can be later repurposed for other landscaping projects like walking paths.
- Weather and fire resistance – Bricks are playing extremely well with the elements. They are not damaged by dampness, and they can withstand a lot of abuse caused by flying debris. Also, bricks are not combustible and don’t help the spread of fire.
- Durability – A solid, well-made brick is as durable as you can wish for. Nowhere near as durable as stone, but durable nevertheless.
- Price – Bricks befall into the upper price segment of outdoor building materials.
- Color limitations – Although they come in a range of different colors, compared to some other materials, bricks do not offer the same degree of variety.
- Heavy – Bricks are quite heavy material. You have to pay attention to make your retaining wall a solid foundation.
- The lack of flexibility – Changing the outer appearance is problematic, but nowhere near as problematic as replacing a damaged brick.
A brick with a selling price of $340 will cost you $1.96 per square foot. A brick costing $500 per thousand will require that you pay $2.88 per square foot.
Wood shares a lot of same qualities as bricks. Both these materials have been with us forever, they both lend the space they occupy a sense of nostalgia and warmth and they are both made out of widely accessible materials. However, when it comes to their building material properties, they couldn’t be further from each other.
- Natural look – Wooden walls have a tendency to blend into the landscape quite seamlessly.
- Cost – Wooden retaining walls are usually very cost effective.
- Ease of installation– Wooden retaining walls are very easy to install which makes them an ideal DIY landscaping project.
- Lightweight – Although reasonably durable, wood is a very lightweight material that is easy to dismantle, move around and repurpose.
- Limited lifespan– Out of all materials on the list, wood probably has the shortest lifespan. However, with the proper maintenance, you will be able to squeeze good 20 years of serviceout of it.
- Wood rots – With the proper treatment this unfortunate outcome can be postponed but not avoided. If you are living in an area that sees a lot of rain, you should probably skip this material.
- Strength – Although they can handle retaining walls under the height of four feet, wooden planks are not recommended for some more complex projects. They can protect your plants from the smaller breeds of rabbits, but they won’t cut it when it comes to bigger and agiler pests.
- Susceptible to termites– If you don’t pay enough attention these small pestscan ruin your installation.
Wood retaining walls usually start $15 per square foot.
Boulder walls are, without any doubt, one of the oldest and the best lasting kinds of man-produced structures. Unlike quarried stone or manufactured modular blocks, boulders are widely available and ready to go even without any additional refining. At the same time, they retain most of the positive aspects of the furnished stones and can last you a century (at least). Stone boulders are a perfect fit for any kind of country, colonial, or English-style garden.
- Natural look – Boulders are a great match for any kind of rustic home or landscaping design.
- Ease of use– Boulder walls are extremely convenient to build. Some of the projects can be easily accomplished simply by stacking the boulders on top of each other. Building the wall doesn’t involve expensive equipment.
- Availability – Boulders of all colors and sizes are extremely easy to obtain and at a very affordable price.
- Durability – As we already mentioned, boulder constructions are in use since the beginning of humanity. Some of them are still alive and well. That should serve as an enough of a testament to boulders’ durability.
- Size – Boulders tend to be quite large. So, if you own a smaller yard, you should probably skip them – they will eat you a lot of space.
- The lack of flexibility– Boulders are what they are – there is very few interventions you can make on them. Therefore, they can be used for the most basic tasks (elevating a section of soil), but not so much for some of the more complex projects (controlling the water flow).
- Transportation – If the blocks are not locally available, transportation can burn you a lot of money.
- Height– Boulder walls can’t be built as high as concrete walls.
Due to their uneven size, transportation costs and a wide variety of available types determining the price of the boulders is not that easy. However, it is safe to say that they can be obtained in the price range between $100 and $600 per ton.
Gabion is a very old method of building the walls. The very name is derived from the Italian world gabbiawhich stand for cage. And that pretty much describes the gabion walls – they are simple cages made out of wire or steel rods and usually filled with rock or rubble. Although they had the widest application in the times of war (during the Civil War, gabion walls were built to protect the soldiers), their ability to play along with virtually any kind of recycled material (e.g. crushed concrete) earned them a very loyal following amongst the modern eco-aware audience.
See our gabion wall and fence article and gallery here.
- Heavy basis – Gabion walls will stay firmly in the position even in the case of the worst downpours you can imagine.
- Flexibility – The baskets and the very materials within them are very flexible and extremely easy to fit in any kind of backyard setup.
- Upgradability – Gabion walls are modular. Thar mean that each of their sections can be easily replaced or upgraded. Also, the gaps between rock or concrete pieces can be filled with vegetation and silt which should further reinforce the wall.
- Ease of use– Gabion walls can be built even with the slightest knowledge of masonry or architecture. The build times are very short and the transportation is extremely easy to handle.
- Visual appeal – Although they can play along with a wide variety of coastal and riverside homes, gabion walls are not that visually pleasing.
- Prone to rust – If you don’t put enough care into maintenance, wire baskets can easily rust away, and render the whole setup worthless.
- Vulnerable to water – Exposure to water can damage the basket and cause the corrosion of internal elements (depending on the elements).
A regular gabion wall usually costs $35 per cubic yard (and that would be a three-feet square cage).
Although they, at least on the first glance, look the same, wood and timber are not considered to be the same building material. Well, at least not quite. The word timberis used to describe any stage of wood after the tree has been cut. The so-called “finished” timber is the wood that’s been processed and cut in various sizes, but still column in nature. As we can see, that makes timber a very different building material from the planks we mentioned above. What these differences amount to?
- Affordability– Cheaper timber pieces are much more affordable than some other materials used for building block walls.
- Durable– Thick timber pieces are much heavier and more durable than wooden planks.
- Good-looking – Any kind of wood ought to bring a lot of old-school charm into your backyard and make a very strong impression on the observer.
- Easy to install – Timber retaining walls have a lot of structural integrity, even if you simply stack the pillars on top of each other and a nail them together.
- Wood rots – Although timber walls are said to last at least 15-20 years, many of them are not that lucky.
- Lack of flexibility – Timber pillars are very large and bulky. Making any kind of advanced design with such building blocks is not that easy. Of course, you can always cut timber into smaller pieces or combine the materials.
- Susceptible to termites – Again, much like any other piece of wood, timber is vulnerable to these pests as well.
The cost of installation of timber retaining walls varies from $16 to $19 per square foot.
9. Natural stone
In a sense, natural stone walls are very similar to boulder walls. The only obvious alteration is that natural stone pieces are much smaller. But, that makes all the difference in the world. Natural stone, therefore, retains all the good qualities of other types of stone (tradition, strength, durability), while allowing you much more design options than, for instance, boulder pieces.
- Look – Stone simply looks beautiful, and fits perfectly into any kind of traditional rustic setting. Because you are working with a lot of smaller building blocks you will have more freedom to experiment with different colors and textures.
- Flexibility– Natural stone can fit almost any situation that comes to your mind. Also, you don’t need any special connection or mortar to keep the construction together.
- Tradition – Natural stone is one of the oldest and the most reliable materials used for grade transitions.
- Durability – Much like any other stone construction, if made well, a natural stone can last you for ages.
- Price – Stone was always considered to be one of the more pristine, but also the most expensive building materials.
- Drainage– When it comes to natural stone, drainage can become a serious problem after just a couple of years.
- Heaviness– Setting up a stone wallis a very labor-intensive process.
- Building blocks diversity– Fitting too many different pieces together may prove to be a joy for some, but a chore for others.
Depending on the type of the stone you’ve chosen, a natural stone retaining wall will cost you $8 to $12 per square foot.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed of skeletal fragments left over by the marine organisms (mostly corals and mollusks). Its primary materials are calcite and aragonite. Although that may probably make you think limestone is more fragile than traditional rock, you have to remember that some of the most long-lasting structures in the world like Taj Mahal and Great Pyramids of Giza were made out of this material. That doesn’t mean that limestone doesn’t have its unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Looks – Limestone boulders are usually yellow or gray and land a very timeless and classy feel to the space they occupy. If you are in favor of the look of the desert-bound structures of the times long gone, this is the material for you.
- Durability – Limestone is fireproof, wheatear-resistant, bug-resistant, and impact-resistant. As the time goes by it doesn’t lose any of its visual appeal.
- Maintenance– Limestone retaining walls are very easy to clean. All they require is a gentle brush.
- A variety of different types – Limestone offers a lot of different varieties to choose from. Sandblasted, split-faced, polished, rubbed, gray, silver and variegated are only some of the offers on the table.
- Susceptible to chemicals – While limestone can withstand pretty much anything Mother Nature can throw at it, it doesn’t bode so well with chemical solutions. The most common cause of weathering is rainwater high in carbon dioxide.
- Susceptible to staining – Due to its highly porous nature, limestone is very susceptible to watermarking and staining caused by other liquids.
As we already mentioned, there are a lot of different types of the limestone boulders around the market, so you can expect their price to vary a lot. But, as an example, the price of weathered limestone can go up to $515 per ton.
11. Segmental Retaining Walls
A segmental retaining wall is one that is constructed by identical pieces of pre-cast concrete that interlock and anchor into backfilled soil. These types of alternatives to retaining walls are most commonly used with geotextiles when the grade of a slope is greater than 45 degrees and a reinforced soil slope is not recommended. The installation of a segmental retaining wall is currently $5350.00.
- Segmental retaining walls provide the retention needed to keep slopes from caving, slumping or sliding.
- You can build retaining walls that are straight, curved, a combination of both as well as offering you the opportunity to add steps and corners.
- There is no need to install concrete footing as there is with wooden timber and natural rock walls.
- Segmental walls can be used to create additional patio space, widen patios and walkways.
- They come in a wide variety of colors, textures and sizes.
- Since the pieces interlock, rapid construction of your wall is possible.
- Higher and steeper walls are able to be constructed.
- The concrete used to create segmental walls is extremely durable and very low maintenance.
- The area where your segmental retaining wall is to be built must first be drained of excess rain water and ground water.
- Weepholes and drainage lines must be taken into account when building this type of wall.
- This type of wall requires more in-depth planning than the average person can handle because of design and drainage demands.
- To ensure that the geogrids are being properly constructed, and engineer should be consulted to ensure the safety and viability of the wall.
- If you ever decide to rearrange or remove your wall, it will be very difficult to do so.
Emily Taylor has a huge passion for gardening with the urge to know and control every little thing that happens inside her house. When she isn’t glued to her backyard or caring for the house, she spends time writing her blog Lovebackyard.comhoping to share her tips and stories to people who want to transform their house into a real paradise. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Emily_Taylor9.
What is the best material to build a retaining wall? ›
Retaining walls can be made from wood, bricks, natural stones or concrete blocks. For DIYers, it's best to use concrete retaining wall blocks, which can be interlocking and are heavy enough to stay in place without cement or other adhesive. Interlocking blocks fit together and add extra security to the wall.What type of retaining wall is best? ›
Concrete and Masonry Retaining Walls
Poured concrete is the strongest and most durable choice for retaining walls. It may also be carved and formed to look like mortared stone depending on your taste.
The cheapest type of retaining wall is poured concrete. Prices start at $4.30 per square foot for poured concrete, $5.65 for interlocking concrete block, $6.15 for pressure-treated pine, and about $11 for stone. Installation or supplies, such as drainage stone or filter fabric, are not included.What are the different types of retaining used? ›
There are several types of retaining structures, including gravity, sheet pile, cantilever, and anchored earth/ mechanically stabilized earth (reinforced earth) walls and slopes. Gravity retaining walls use their weight to resist earth pressures.What is the best material to backfill a retaining wall? ›
The best material for the backfilling of a retaining wall is gravel, and it should be well graded. The main reason for using gravel is because it does not retain water (small void ratio); hence lateral loads experienced will be minimal. You should also have weep holes for draining excess water that may be retained.What material goes behind a retaining wall? ›
Backfill refers to the dirt behind the wall. In order to provide proper drainage, at least 12 inches of granular backfill (gravel or a similar aggregate) should be installed directly behind the wall. Compacted native soil can be used to backfill the rest of the space behind the wall.What is the strongest type of wall? ›
The Different Types Of Masonry Walls
The strongest part of any building or any structure for that matter would be the masonry walls. As they provide strength and durability to any structure, and at the same time they help in controlling the temperature indoors and out.
7 1/2 inch thickness is sufficient for concrete retaining walls without or with minimal reinforcement. 8 feet or less in height and no more than 4 feet in height between the interior floor level and the finished grade on the outside wall are required.What is the easiest retaining wall to build? ›
For the average do-it-yourselfer, building a retaining wall is easiest when using masonry blocks that will be stacked no taller than three feet, with no mortar binding the stones or concrete members.What is a gabion retaining wall? ›
GABION RETAINING WALL SYSTEMS ARE MONOLITHIC GRAVITY MASS STRUCTURES THAT ARE IDEALLY SUITED FOR EROSION CONTROL APPLICATIONS AND FOLLOW STANDARD DESIGN METHODS FOR GRAVITY AND MSE RETAINING WALLS.
How many types of retaining wall are there? ›
The following are the various types of retaining walls: 1. Gravity Walls 2. Semi-Gravity Retaining Walls 3. Cantilever Retaining Walls 4.What is a Counterfort retaining wall? ›
A counterfort retaining wall is a cantilever wall with counterforts, or buttresses, attached to the inside face of the wall to further resist lateral thrust. Some common materials used for retaining walls are treated lumber, concrete block systems, poured concrete, stone, and brick.Do I need drainage behind retaining wall? ›
Retaining wall drainage is critical. It ensures water does not collect behind the wall, causing it to fail. A quality drainage system collects and redirects rainwater away from the wall. It decreases pressure on the soil around the foundation and within the wall itself, reducing erosion and settlement.Do I need weep holes in retaining wall? ›
Weep holes allow water to escape from behind the wall. These holes should be regularly spaced in the horizontal direction. Retaining walls with a height greater than a few feet should also have weep holes that are regularly spaced in the vertical direction, forming a grid pattern.Should you use landscape fabric behind retaining wall? ›
You should use landscape fabric behind a retaining wall because the fabric supports the bricks, wood, or other materials that make the wall. Wet soil can push against a retaining wall, weakening it. By placing a strip of landscape fabric under the soil, the wall won't have as much pressure on it.How long does a cinder block retaining wall last? ›
If you've invested in durable materials and properly waterproofed the structure, a retaining wall can last 20 years or more. Timber can last for 40 years, and there's no limit on how long cinder blocks or concrete walls can last when they're built well.How deep should footings be for a retaining wall? ›
All footings should be a minimum of 150mm (6") in depth, with the bottom 350 - 400mm (14-16") below ground level on most soils. For clay soil however, thicker and deeper footings should be used.How do I build a cheap retaining wall? ›
The cheapest way to build a retaining wall is to DIY it. And the most DIY-friendly way is to use commercially available concrete blocks, sold in Home Depot or Lowe's. They commonly come as self-aligning and trapezoidal in shape which makes it easier to form concaves, convexes, or straight walls.How long should a retaining wall last? ›
How Long Should A Retaining Wall Last? Stone retaining walls should last somewhere between 40 and 100 years or more. Wood retaining walls last around 40 years. Stone and concrete retaining walls last between 50 and 100 years.What is a perfect wall? ›
The Four Layers of a Perfect Wall
The Perfect Wall has four control layers. In order of relative importance, they are (1) the rain control layer; (2) the air control layer; (3) the vapor control layer; and (4) the thermal control layer.
How do you anchor a retaining wall? ›
The Anchorplex™ Retaining Wall System - YouTubeWhat is an engineered retaining wall? ›
Sure, retaining walls look like simple stacked stone, block, or timber. But in fact, they're carefully engineered systems that wage an ongoing battle with gravity. They restrain tons of saturated soil that would otherwise slump and slide away from a foundation or damage the surrounding landscape.What is an embedded retaining wall? ›
Embedded retaining walls are walls that penetrate into the ground and rely to a significant extent or even completely on the passive resistance of the ground for their support.What is a diaphragm wall? ›
Diaphragm walls are underground structural elements commonly used as retention systems and permanent foundation walls. They can also be used as groundwater barriers.Does retaining wall need rebar? ›
Retaining walls must be stronger than freestanding walls. Insert rebar in the footing when you pour it; this should be done at every three blocks or at intervals specified by your local codes.How thick should a 6 foot retaining wall be? ›
Base thickness = 1/8 of the height of the wall but not less than 12 inches. Stem thickness = 6 inches + ¼ inch for each foot of wall height.How do you backfill a retaining wall? ›
Steps For How to Backfill a Retaining Wall
Lay your base of compacted native soil (about three inches deep). Tamp the soil to ensure that it is secure and firm. Fill the next six to twelve inches with aggregate or gravel. Tamp the gravel or aggregate to ensure a sturdy base.
While retaining walls taller than four feet should be engineered by professionals, you may be able to DIY a solution for a tall slope by creating two or more shorter “tiered” retaining walls as opposed to a single tall wall.How long will a pressure treated retaining wall last? ›
A timber retaining wall can last a little over a decade, if treated properly. If not maintained, the lifespan of a timber wall is around 3 to 5 years. To keep its fresh look, timber requires serious maintenance. The material will hold up for so many years only if its pressure-treated with chemicals.How do you build a Deadman retaining wall? ›
Dig out a T-shape trench into the hillside behind the wall and lay in the dead man. Fasten the dead man to the retaining wall with two landscaping screws. Then stake the dead man to the soil with two rebar stakes. Install one dead man every 6 to 8 feet around the entire wall.
How do you make a gabion wall? ›
The standard design for a gabion wall is a pyramid. In general, for every 1m increase in wall height, the bottom row basket depth should be increased by half a metre. For a 2m high wall the bottom row should be 1.5m deep and the top row should be 1m deep. It is still standard to use 3mm wire thickness for both rows.How do you hold back soil on a slope? ›
If your design has too much bare soil exposed on the slope, over time the rain will dislodge and erode the soil particles away. A way to remedy this issue is to plant ground cover shrubs and plants, or position rocks to cover more soil and slow the speed of runoff.Can a gabion wall be used as a retaining wall? ›
Gabion walls are most frequently used as retaining walls or as tall, vertical walls in industrial settings, such as bridges, embankments and seawalls. Gabion walls are often stepped or built at a slant to better retain the soil behind them.What is a crib retaining wall? ›
Crib wall– a retaining wall (that holds up a trail, path, or road, or one that uses wood or concrete cribbing) Retaining wall– a wall that holds/retains material, including the backslope above a trail, path, or road.What is a revetment wall? ›
A revetment wall is a permanent structure designed to prevent the types of subsidence that commonly occur adjacent to waterways and the ocean. By definition, it is a protective covering on an embankment of earth designed to maintain the slope or to protect it from erosion.What are the disadvantages of gabions? ›
Gabions are more expensive than either vegetated slopes or riprap. The wire baskets used for gabions may be subject to heavy wear and tear due to wire abrasion by bedload movement in streams with high velocity flow. Difficult to install, requiring large equipment.
: a low retaining wall. especially : an embankment wall in a railroad cut.What is a buttress wall? ›
A buttress is a structure built against another structure in order to strengthen or support it. Historically, they have been used to strengthen large walls or buildings such as churches, but they continue to be used in large modern structures such as retaining walls and dams.Which wall is more stable? ›
Walls are more stable and structurally secure if they slope back or “lay back” into the retained slope. This amount of variance from true vertical is called “cant” or “batter”.What is a cantilever wall? ›
Cantilever walls are walls that do not have any supports and thus lead to an open unobstructed excavation. Cantilever walls laterally restrain the retained side of the excavation by the passive resistance provided below the excavation depth.
How do MSE walls work? ›
It is made up of alternating layers of backfill and soil reinforcements. The stability of this soil reinforced wall comes from the fact that there are friction and tension between the backfill and the soil. This MSE retaining wall design works in retaining wall reinforcement to stabilize uneven slopes.How do you build a gravity retaining wall? ›
- Stability against Overturning: The wall must be safe against overturning. ...
- Stability against Sliding: ...
- Stability against Tension: ...
- Stability against Bearing Failure:
For the average do-it-yourselfer, building a retaining wall is easiest when using masonry blocks that will be stacked no taller than three feet, with no mortar binding the stones or concrete members.How long does a cinder block retaining wall last? ›
If you've invested in durable materials and properly waterproofed the structure, a retaining wall can last 20 years or more. Timber can last for 40 years, and there's no limit on how long cinder blocks or concrete walls can last when they're built well.What blocks to use for a retaining wall? ›
Concrete blocks are ideal for building walls to hold back the soil after you dig into a slope for a pathway, patio, or another landscaping project.Do you need drainage behind a retaining wall? ›
Every retaining wall should include drainage stone behind the wall. Though it is a good idea to install a drainage pipe on all walls, there are certain situations where a perforated drain pipe is absolutely necessary.How do you build a cheap retaining wall? ›
The cheapest way to build a retaining wall is to DIY it. And the most DIY-friendly way is to use commercially available concrete blocks, sold in Home Depot or Lowe's. They commonly come as self-aligning and trapezoidal in shape which makes it easier to form concaves, convexes, or straight walls.How thick does my retaining wall need to be? ›
Retaining walls can be tricky to build as they need to be strong enough to resist horizontal soil pressure where there are differing ground levels. One of the things you must get right is the thickness of the wall. It should be at least 215mm thick and bonded or made of two separate brick skins tied together.What causes retaining walls to fail? ›
The main cause of retaining wall failure is poor drainage. Without proper drainage, hydrostatic pressure builds up behind the retaining wall. Saturated soil is substantially heavier than dry soil, and the retaining wall may not be designed to handle such a load.How long does pressure treated wood last as a retaining wall? ›
However. Pressure-treated timbers are typically what you use for a timber retaining wall. The fun fact about pressure treated wood is that it is warrantied – but putting it in continuous contact with the ground voids the warranty. Even so, you can reasonably expect to get anywhere from 10-20 years out of a timber wall.
How do I keep my retaining wall from falling? ›
The wall can be strengthened by transferring some of the shear force to the base where the wall meets the ground. This can be done by either extending the footing of the base or placing concrete to thicken the base. Installing anchors or tiebacks is another option for extra strength.What is a gabion retaining wall? ›
GABION RETAINING WALL SYSTEMS ARE MONOLITHIC GRAVITY MASS STRUCTURES THAT ARE IDEALLY SUITED FOR EROSION CONTROL APPLICATIONS AND FOLLOW STANDARD DESIGN METHODS FOR GRAVITY AND MSE RETAINING WALLS.How do you make a strong retaining wall? ›
Here are three key principles in building any solid retaining wall: Bury the bottom course, or courses, of the retaining wall one tenth the height of the wall to prevent the soil behind from pushing the bottom out. Step back the blocks, rocks or timbers to get gravity working in your favor.How tall can a cinder block retaining wall be? ›
Planning a Block Retaining Wall
The interlocking retaining wall block can be stacked to build walls up to 24 to 36 inches high, depending on the size of the block.
A single skin wall is only suitable to a height of around 450mm; anything higher should be double-skinned for stability. Any wall higher than 1.2 metres must be designed by a structural engineer, who will take account of prevailing ground conditions, planned usage etc.