A retaining wall is a structure that holds back soil or water. Retaining walls are commonly used to prevent erosion, contain soil on steep slopes, and keep water from flowing across property lines, a platform for example gardening. They are commonly used in landscaping and construction and can be made from a variety of materials, including stone, brick, and concrete. Retaining walls can also be used to create level terraces in a landscape. There are many different types of retaining walls, including mass retaining walls, cantilever retaining walls, crib retaining walls, and counterfort retaining walls among others. Your choice of type of retaining wall depends on factors like cost, function for the wall, intended life span of the wall as well as feasibility.
Purpose of retaining wall; It Prevents soil erosion by protecting top soils from being washed. It also stabilizes sloppy terrains by subduing any lateral movement of the earth due to downward pressure. A retaining wall is also a structure used during landscaping because of its aesthetic appeal. It helps flatten out the land thus giving you more landscaping options. A retaining wall also helps improve drainage by retaining water and channeling it through pipes for disposal in the appropriate places. Retaining walls increase the usable space of the available land. Flat land tends to be of more utility than sloping land based on the fact that it is easier to develop it or even mechanize it.
Factors to consider: Load size, wall type, materials to use, drainage of the area, and costs. helps in the planning stage, for height, and thickness. All these factors need to be considered before constructing a retaining wall. For instance, the expected load size will determine the dimensions of a retaining wall. A retaining wall holding back a land mass with a height of fifteen meters will be considerably thicker and more reinforced than a retaining wall holding back a land mass of height of five meters due to the extra strength demands. The purpose of the retaining wall also determines design details, for instance, a retaining wall meant to retain water (A dam for instance) will be designed to be waterproof, with an emphasis on the drainage details.
Construction; The construction of a retaining wall can be summarized in Five distinct steps; Site survey and planning, Site preparation, constructing the foundation, constructing the wall, and finishing touches.
The first step in constructing a retaining wall is surveying the construction area and designing construction plans accordingly. In this case, the services of a land surveyor are required to assess the suitability of the area for construction. In addition to a land surveyor, the services of a civil engineer are also required to assess the suitability and compatibility of the soil. Soil tests can be carried out to test for aspects like soil strength, capillary action, and p.H among others.
The second step is site preparation. This involves activities meant to prepare the site for construction. Activities range from clearing existing vegetation, leveling the area, and setting up support services like site toilets, and hoarding among others.
The third step is constructing the foundation; The foundation is the part of the retaining wall that anchors it to the ground. It takes all the load from the retaining wall and transfers it to the ground. For that reason, it is one of the most important elements of the retaining wall. The design details of the foundation depend upon the intended functional demands of the retaining wall. Most retaining wall foundations are constructed using concrete.
The fourth step is constructing the actual wall. This step depends on the type of wall to be constructed. that determines the construction details as well as the materials to use. For example; a mass retaining wall will be constructed using stones or bricks, a cantilever retaining wall will involve more intricate design details and likely be constructed using reinforced concrete, a crib retaining wall will be constructed using precast interlocking concrete elements, and a sheet pile retaining wall will be constructed using either metal or timber sheet piles arranged next to each other.
The fifth step involves adding final touches to the retaining wall. This is where damp roof membranes are added to waterproof the wall, piping systems are installed for better drainage as well as other additions and modifications to improve the performance of the wall.
In conclusion, a retaining wall is a great way to increase the value of your home while also adding functionality. There are many different types of retaining walls to choose from, so be sure to do your research before you start construction. If you’re not sure where to start, consult a professional contractor who can help you select the right wall for your needs and budget.
After the construction of a retaining wall, maintenance needs to be done to ensure its longevity. Read about retaining wall maintenance in the next article by clicking here.