Retaining walls can be a beautiful addition to your home that add value to your property but it’s imperative that you understand everything that is required when adding one. In this article we will dig into the basics of retaining walls & the importance of using a certified professional to complete them.
What is a retaining wall? Retaining walls have multiple purposes. For some homeowners it’s a piece of work to add another eye-catching layer to their home. Often these walls allow for the homeowner to showcase an assortment of beautiful flowers, additional seating or a tie together an existing patio. For others it’s a necessity where they are used as a functional piece to control a sloped yard that may be experiencing soil erosion or to protect another area from extreme saturation. In both cases, retaining walls require engineering in order for it to meet specific zoning codes and regulations.
Retaining walls can be constructed with a few different products such as interlocking concrete blocks, poured concrete, brick, wood or loose rock. When selecting your materials, it is important to keep a few things in mind – you want to choose products that are long-lasting and durable. Wood & concrete poured walls should only be used when the height is less than 4 feet. Wood materials need to be pre-treated to prevent rotting and concrete walls are less effective for drainage issues.
And while that may seem like an easy choice based off of your preference the specifications for these walls is huge (and should be left to an experienced designer).
Any wall that will be greater than 3-4 feet requires an engineer to complete due to permits. When building a functional retaining wall, it is required that it leans into the hill a minimum on 1 inch for every 12 inches of height. This allows for a “safe load” of the wall. In addition, this will help to drain the soil when it becomes saturated with rain. Another component of the functional retaining wall, that may be added, is drainage tiles that are backfilled with gravel as to help prevent water build-up. Some walls will even require additional support such as vertical walls that are built with buried footings, steel reinforcements, a cantilevered design or tie-backs that extend deep into the land and connected to buried anchors.
So now that we have blown your mind with the things we have to take into consideration when looking at your property and discussing retaining walls with you, don’t you think the best choice is to let the professionals handle the hard work?!?!
At Total Package Landscape we have employees that are ICPI certified. What does that mean to you? We have completed 5 projects over 10,000 sq feet, passed their exam and continue to complete further education to ensure that we are completing the best practices in the industry.