Tips to Consider for Construction of Retaining Walls



Consider These Top Tips when planning for Construction of Retaining Walls on Your Property

© by  Raymond Alexander Kukkee

  • Effective planning is important for the success of any construction project, and retaining walls are not an exception.
  • There are no shortcuts. Build your retaining wall correctly the first time.
  • Attractively built retaining walls can actually increase the value of your property
  • Retaining walls can create a lot of more productive space in your yard if designed and placed correctly
  • Retaining walls can prevent the unnecessary  expense for the importation of new topsoil to repair damage caused by erosion and soil slippage
  • Two  separate retaining walls  lower in height may actually be more effective,  more attractive and be safer than one higher wall –and create more useful space in the process.  An additional access stairway between the two walls may be an option to consider.
  •  If an exceptionally high retaining wall is required or extremely unstable ground conditions are suspected,  consider an engineered solution for your specific site conditions for safety and a more successful outcome.
  •  For any  lower  stone, cement, or brick retaining wall structure that is not rigidly mortared,  a crushed rock foundation is usually adequate and easily installed.
  •  Depending upon the manufacturer, some interlocking, stacking block types  may need additional ballast for weight as total wall height may dictate. Reading the manufacturer’s specifications and requirements is recommended.
  •  For low walls, simple “weep holes”  placed in the wall may suffice for drainage, but may also eventually stain the face of the wall, depending upon the mineral content of the water in your locality.
  •  Plan drainage on the uphill side of the wall with free-draining granular material and weeping tile if necessary to prevent water damage to the wall. Drainage properly designed can prevent total destruction of the wall in extreme wet conditions or very heavy rainfall areas where soil is frequently in a state of total saturation and unstable.
  • If surface water runoff is a serious and constant problem, consider installing a French drain where the water originates higher up the slope.
  • Verify lot line clearance and municipal bylaws prior to beginning any construction. There may be height restrictions applicable; you may require an exemption from the bylaw for unusual on-site property conditions.
  •  If everyone on your block already has  timber retaining walls,  for appearance, do consider building a characteristically- comparable project  to  help maintain and promote ‘good neighbourhood‘  relations.

Paying attention to these simple tips and concepts in the early planning stages may help you avoid pitfalls, eliminate extra expense, and help create a more attractive and functional yard area for a superior outcome and increased property value.


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