Building Retaining Walls that Are Sturdy
When built right, retaining walls are a reliable solution if you want to create a level surface on a hilly area or a slope in your garden. However, several retaining wall contractors can attest, not all walls of this kind are designed to be as sturdy as they can be.
A retaining wall is considered poorly built if:
It has an uneven base
It lacks compacted material in the front
It has poorly fitted blocks
It has no step-back
Things to Consider
When building retaining walls in your yard, hiring a professional residential landscaping service in Newtown PA that has experience with retaining walls will help. Landscaping experts are aware of the different wall elements that need to be considered when erecting a lasting retaining wall.
A Solid Soil Foundation
Many garden owners focus on how strong their retaining walls would be from the front. However, if you ask most retaining wall contractors, they will tell you that the material that goes behind your wall is more important. Over time, a poorly built wall can be pushed forward and toppled by the very soil that it attempts to contain.
Behind retained walls, the soil is divided into two: the undisturbed soil that has been naturally compacted and the soil that was added to fill any empty space between the wall and the undisturbed soil. Because of gravity, the weight of the additional soil will be directed at the lower part of your wall. As a countermeasure, you have to:
Install the foundation and bottom-most part of the retaining wall deeply into the ground (about 1/10th of the height of the wall).
Step back your retaining wall materials to allow the wall to lean and push against the filling soil.
Have solidly compacted material as your base.
Drainage is an important aspect of landscaping, especially when building retaining walls. Take note that uncontrolled water (which may come from your sprinkling system or from natural sources like rain) can weaken your wall over time.
Therefore, you need to equip your walls with a fast exit route that will redirect this water into the right channels. A well-built wall must:
Allow water to flow over the wall and seep through blocks to alleviate pressure
Have compacted soil behind to block large volumes of water from soaking in
Have a landscape fabric that prevents soil from entering the gravel (the gravel allows water to reach your drain tile)
Have a drain tile that moves water away from your retaining wall
Businesses that provide residential landscaping services know that landscape timbers are not enough to hold back the soil. Therefore they use reinforcement materials in the form of “dead men” to lock the wall into the soil behind it. Other popular materials include concrete, stones, and manufactured blocks.
However, whichever material you’d use, you have to consider the height of your retaining wall. If it exceeds four feet, you may have to inquire if you need to secure building permits allowing the scope of construction to be done. This is especially needed if you’re addressing tall slopes and you’d need to build a series of tiered walls instead of a single tall one.
Tom writes for a company that provides residential landscaping services in Newtown PA. DKC Landscaping are also known as reputable retaining wall contractors today. Check out DKC Landscaping for more information.