Retaining walls are vertical structures made out of variety of materials such as wood, stone, brick, or concrete. They provide extra support in preventing soil from moving. Specific reasons for using a retaining wall will depend on the project. Typically, retaining walls are used to hold back earth to create level landscapes or prevent erosion. Projects can range from small landscape walls to large walls along a roadway.
Some people believe a retaining wall is merely an arranged pile of blocks. But don’t be fooled. A retaining wall is an engineered system that often uses gravity to hold back the earth! So not surprisingly when they fail, you have a problem. They can pose a serious risk to human safety and be a hazard to your property. That’s why it’s important to call on an expert to build your retaining wall.
Read on to learn four ways to create a solid structure and prevent a retaining wall failure.
Consult an expert
With some projects, you can skip a couple steps to save money. Do not skimp on a retaining wall project. The last thing you want to deal with after the fact is a design flaw. Pay the extra money to hire an expert. The expert should inspect the space and all materials prior to developing the design, which must identify the different elements of the project.
Tip: Contact New England Enterprises.
Create a dense surface for the foundation
Retaining walls can be extremely heavy, causing the soil underneath to be squashed. As a result, the wall could shrink because there may not be enough pressure to keep it upright. At this point, your entire wall will fail.
However, if you compact the soil first (i.e. remove space between soil particles) it will create a dense surface for the wall’s foundation.
Tip: You can always add gravel to stabilize the foundation.
The ground behind your retaining wall must have proper drainage. If not, the wall will fail. Therefore, it’s important to fill the space behind a retaining wall with sand or gravel. These materials won’t absorb water and allows for drainage, which minimizes the chance of damage or cracks.
Tip: Don’t use dirt as backfill. The dirt will retain water and will not drain properly. This situation will add additional pressure to the back of the wall.
Ensure proper reinforcement
It’s critical to properly reinforce your retaining wall so it’s strong and secure. Typically, a rebar is used as reinforcement. A rebar is a steel bar used in construction to add weight.
Tip: Ensure you install the rebar correctly. Otherwise, the wall may separate at the corners. As always, that’s why it’s important to hire an expert for this type of project.
Retaining walls for versatility
To ensure your wall is solid, take into account key design considerations and remember that retaining walls can also add character to your yard. So although you may only think of them as boundaries between properties, they are now a popular choice for landscape design. These walls can add simple character to an otherwise plain garden and provide structure to keep the landscape secured.
But in all cases, and especially if your retaining wall is higher than 4 feet, you should hire an expert to prevent a catastrophic failure.