Types of retaining walls and their purpose

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What is a retaining wall and what are its purposes?

Retaining walls are a popular sustainability solution for preserving land and ensuring the longevity of a property. A retaining wall can be built in many ways, but generally, they are constructed from earth, masonry units, or rocks. The wall is designed to keep land in its desired shape while protecting it from erosion and other natural disasters. A retaining wall will typically be used to separate areas of open space, such as a garden or patio, and the house behind it. Retaining walls can also be used to retain the separation between two properties.

Retaining walls are a common building feature and can be used to prevent erosion and protect property. They come in a variety of materials and construction styles and can be installed in both new and existing construction. When selecting a retaining wall, it is important to consider the intended use, weight limitations, and maintenance requirements.

Types of retaining walls: dry stack, mortared, gravity, reinforced earth, cantilevered.
Incorporated into yards or other areas of land that slope downwards, a retaining wall is a structure designed to hold an area of the earth. Highly versatile retaining walls are used for both small household and business purposes, such as gardening.
An expert can take an in-depth look at different types of retaining walls and what kinds of materials you can choose for your landscaping project.

The Gravity retaining wall

One of many common kinds of retaining wall, a gravity retaining wall was first conceived and is the primary use of this kind of stone retaining wall. This style of retaining wall relies on the weight of its blocks to hold back against earth pressure and is constructed with interlocking stones. These handrail wall systems make for good travel corridors on fast roads, as they block and reduce the danger of large loose rocks and particles from entering the pathway. Smaller variations of this gravity retaining wall system, however, are frequently used for gardens. They’re typically built using sandstone bricks or stone. It is the best retaining wall for large construction projects.

Cantilever retaining wall: Composed of a stem and base slab of concrete, a cantilever retaining wall is one of the most common types of retaining walls used for commercial projects. The bottom of the cantilever wall is usually embedded within the soil, which acts as a weight to stop the wall from sliding. Appearance-wise, a cantilever retaining wall is larger at the base, and narrow at the top.

Anchored retaining wall:
Using cables, anchored retaining walls are used in a wall segment that can’t bear its weight without help. Anchored retaining walls can be used to prevent and retard soil erosion and provide additional support.

Sheet piling: Sheet piling walls can be used as both temporary and permanent retaining walls, and are most commonly seen beside water sources. Sheet piling is advantageous because it is quick to install and can be reused for multiple tasks. Unlike cantilever retaining walls, sheet piling does not necessitate any excavation. Nevertheless, it is difficult to use on rugged terrain.

Types of retaining wall materials

When it comes to choosing retaining wall material for your landscape, sorting through the various options available is typically easier. There are numerous different options, but the most popular retaining wall materials are usually these.

Sandstone retaining wall
Sandstone capitalizes on the natural appearance of the garden bed and is more inexpensive than bricks and lumber. Sandstone provides a more modern, contemporary design compared to lumber and still fits perfectly within the garden bed frame.

Timber retaining wall

Among retaining wall options, a timber wall offers the best value and visual appeal. Timber walls are among the easiest to install and among the most inexpensive retaining wall options. They can last for more than twenty-five years and require simple maintenance for several years after that.

Concrete sleeper retaining walls

Simple to build and straightforward to maintain, concrete sleeper retaining walls are an excellent choice for mimicking the look of timber while providing increased durability. Concrete sleeper retaining walls are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and colors.

Stone retaining walls

Want to last a lifetime, natural stone retaining walls are fascinating and beautiful. Stones can be cut in a variety of styles, which can add to their depth and beauty. People may be surprised, however, to learn that many costs are incurred depending on the kinds of cuts. Nevertheless, the extra money is well worth it as the stone is predicted to increase the value of your home.

Design of retaining walls: setback, height, thickness, type of soil

The design process for a segmental retaining wall often requires a Wall Design Engineer or Site Civil Engineer to be responsible for the wall design envelope. Geo-technical engineers should be hired to evaluate the overall stability of the site.

Proper retaining wall design requires consideration of the following.

Select the retaining wall location: Minimize soil excavation and backfill, optimize grading and drainage patterns and Consider existing site features.

Determine retaining wall height and geometry: Calculate the retaining wall height at its tallest position, identify slopes above and below the wall, evaluate surcharges from vehicular or construction traffic, and select the appropriate wall batter or setback.

Evaluate structural requirements: Check the gravity wall vs reinforcement table from a civil engineering chart and if geogrid is required, see the geogrid charts for approximate grid length.

Calculate the total wall structure: Use the Setback Chart to calculate the total wall setback, add the required grid lengths to determine the total wall envelope, and cross-check the total wall envelope with available space at the retaining wall site.

Construction of retaining walls: form-work, reinforcement, drainage ->
Maintenance of retaining walls: cleaning, waterproofing, repairs ->
Sustainability – Retaining Walls ->

In conclusion, retaining walls are a necessary part of landscaping and can be used to add beauty and functionality to any yard. When choosing a retaining wall, it is important to consider the style, materials, and size that will best fit the needs of your property. With a little bit of research and planning, you can create a beautiful and functional retaining wall that will last for years to come.

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