In landscaping and hardscaping, retaining walls are used to create boundaries, segments, and/or help to keep different elevations from collapsing on a lower area. Generally, whenever there are multiple levels in a landscape design, a retaining wall will be used to keep everything on the “up and up” – literally. Some retaining walls are used to keep more than soil in place too; in fact, seawalls are used to keep water from pouring into your yard too.
Retaining walls are generally used to manage ground slope, water drainage and runoff, and help to prevent erosion and washout. In most cases, retaining walls are built using natural stones and/or concrete, giving a very distinct edge or boundary to your landscape and/or hardscape design. And while retaining walls generally serve an actual purpose, at times they are used for aesthetic appeal. In either case, it’s best to let a professional handle everything as these aren’t easy to build.
There are a few types of retaining walls, which we’ll discuss briefly below.
Gravity Retaining Walls
These are built with the intention that their mass will help to keep them in place while resisting whatever is pushing against them (i.e. soil, water). In most cases, these are not built vertical; instead, they are built with a slight angle to help them resist falling over. Most are built using stones and/or concrete and they don’t require a rigid footing.
In the 20th century, this type of wall was created using large stones and/or concrete. But today, we use other materials that are lighter and cheaper, will adding reinforcement through wire baskets and/or interior support structures.
Sheet Pile Retaining Walls
Where the ground is soft and/or tight, it’s easier to use sheet pile retaining walls. These are driven into the ground fairly deep and they use heavier materials such as aluminum, steel, and/or fiberglass. In most cases, the pilings are driven down about two-thirds of the height of the wall, with only one-third being visible from above the ground. In some cases, an anchor may be used to help keep the wall in place.
Anchored Retaining Walls
These are really a separate wall, inasmuch as they can be used with any retaining wall. The purpose of an anchored retaining wall is to give extra strength and/or resistance to a wall with a lot of pressure and/or soft soil issues. Anchors are specialized materials that are pushed into the walls, that expand to grab the wall, which can then be attached to support lines and/or bars that help to resist movement. In some cases, thin walls can be reinforced in this way to compensate for lack of size and/or strength.
As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from. When it comes to retaining walls, it’s best to let the professionals handle it. If you want, you can give us a call for a no-obligation quote. The quote is free and we won’t do anything unless you ask us to.