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3 Aspects of a Well-Built Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall
For those with homes or businesses built on a sloping group, soil stability can be a real challenge. Erosion can quickly decimate the most lovingly designed outdoor spaces. Fortunately, retaining walls represent the perfect means by which to ensure stable landscaping. Better yet, they add visual appeal, allowing you to take your landscaping decisions to the next level of beauty and complexity.
Yet in order for a retaining wall to deliver on its potential, it must be installed by a true professional; one who understands the many issues that can plague poorly built walls. If you would like to learn more about what distinguishes a good retaining wall from a poor one, read on. This article will discuss three crucial features of a well built retaining wall.

Three Foot Maximum Height

It cannot be overstated that, though its name may be confusion, a retaining wall represents much more than just a simple wall. Instead, it must be capable of resisting the enormous pressure exerted on it by what is technically known as the failure plane. This term designates the rocks, soil, and other substances held back by the retaining wall.

A clear relationship exists between the pressure of the failure plane and the height of a retaining wall. Simply put, taller retaining walls receive a larger amount of pressure. Thus, the taller the wall, the more expertly it must be installed. Otherwise, it may shift, collapse, or fail to perform its job as the years go by.

Most builders consider three feet a safe upper limit for the the height of a retaining wall. This measurement refers to both the part of the wall that will be visible above the ground, as well as the wall's subsurface foundation. If you feel that a three-foot high wall will not suffice for your needs, be sure to discuss it with your landscaping contractor. Through careful engineering, there may still be a way to meet your needs.

Appropriately Deep

As alluded to above, the most important part of a retaining wall is not the part you can see, but rather the part that is hidden below your ground. This portion of the wall must be of an appropriate depth. Otherwise, the wall will not be structurally sound. A simple formula determines the necessary depth of the wall, depending on the desired height of the wall.

For every eight inches of above ground wall, you will need a foundation that lies at least one inch below the surface of the soil. In other words, a three-foot wall would require a four and a half inch subsurface foundation. An additional four inches should be added to this number when excavating the base. This will compensate for the layer of paver base used to give the wall lasting stability.

Backed by Gravel

Those who live in regions where temperatures regularly drop below freezing in the winter face an additional hurdle when it comes to constructing a sound retaining wall. The failure plane in such regions will generally exert a much greater degree of pressure on a wall. The culprit here is expansive forces that come into play as the ground freezes.

As such forces press outward against a retaining wall, they greatly increase its susceptibility to structural problems. A layer of landscaping gravel should be installed along the failure plane side of the wall to keep such problems at bay. This gravel allows water to drain out of the soil more adequately. As water is the chief culprit in expansive forces, this acts to reduce the expansion rate of the soil when cold weather rolls around.

Professional Assistance

It takes both knowledge and experience to install a retaining wall correctly. For more information about what it takes to ensure your next retaining wall will last for decades to come, feel free to contact the experts at Supreme Concrete LLC.