According to Handy, retaining walls are primarily built to provide support to the sloped sections of your property that can fall without such external support. However, it can also be used to improve the form, function, and aesthetics of your garden landscape. Thus, if you want to turn the hilly and chaotic mess in your property into a structured environment using retaining walls, it makes sense to learn all you can about retaining walls.
Here are a few important things that you need to know about retaining walls:
- How do retaining walls work? – Retaining walls include 4 basic elements that work in combination with each other to work. Let’s look at those:
- Support – Even the strongest walls require a proper support system to hold back the weight of the soil. Generally, a sloping technique known as step-back construction is used to support the most basic retaining walls.However, extra support is required for vertical walls and those that are higher than 3 feet. These include cantilever design, buried footings, and steel reinforcements. Strong tie-backs are attached to anchors behind large walls to keep them steady.
- Foundation – Complicated retaining walls require solid structural foundations that are below frost level. However, a gravel-filled trench is enough for basic step-back retaining walls.
- Backfill – It is a gravel layer that is laid behind the retaining wall to prevent it from cracking due to the soil swelling and movement.
- Drainage – Sturdy concrete walls require specialized drainage systems to cope with seepage.
A retaining wall can be made using a variety of materials depending on the requirements. These include natural stone, concrete with stone veneer, brick, timber, precast stackable blocks, poured concrete, and more.
- What is the function of a retaining wall? – The main function of retaining walls is to keep the soil and earth around them in place and prevent it from sliding downhill due to erosion. However, they can be used in many different creative ways.
For instance, a retaining wall can be created to help slow down the flow of rainwater to prevent flooding. It can also be constructed to create a level area on your property and improve its functionality and usable space.
- When do you need a retaining wall? – If you notice a section or many parts of your yard where soil erosion is evident due to slopes, inclines, or dips, a retaining wall can help to control and prevent that downhill erosion.
Uncontrolled soil erosion can also threaten the foundation of your home and cause irreparable damage. And, if your home is downhill in the path of a soil fault line, it can become a disaster in the event of an earthquake or during storms where rainwater can cause flooding. A retaining wall can help protect your home against such problems.
Handy suggests you avoid building a DIY retaining wall since it can be dangerous without the proper experience, knowledge, and expertise. Instead, ensure you hire a reputed landscape contractor that is specialized in building strong and aesthetic retaining walls to enjoy all the benefits they offer.