An Introduction to Retaining Walls

Steep slopes on your property can create a fair share of landscaping issues. They’re often inconvenient to navigate or build on, and especially steep slopes with exposed soil can be at risk of erosion or collapse. Retaining walls present a solution: a rigid structure built along a lateral face of soil to hold it in place and create two regions of different elevation. Invaluable in landscaping, retaining walls both support terrain and add additional style to the scene.

Function of Retaining Walls

Though the designs can vary, retaining walls all have the same primary purpose of keeping a slope of soil in place. The wall is anchored into the ground by a footer to secure it against the pressure of the retaining soil. Additional anchors such as a cantilever or cables driven into the retained soil are often used as well. A drainage system ensures water does not build up behind the wall and add to the weight it must retain.

Retaining Wall Materials

For a stable, long-lasting retaining wall, the materials used need to be sturdy and high-quality. Concrete, poured into the desired form, provides excellent stability and can also be cured and sealed to make it harder. Some retaining walls may use natural rock, brick, paver stones or even treated wood for the visible face to make it more appealing. These walls, though, still require concrete as a footer, and some might need a secondary concrete wall behind it for support.

Why Hire a Contractor

Retaining walls have little room for error in design and construction. They must be able to match the lateral earth pressure they’re holding back, taking into account the soil slope, composition and ground water content, as well as building material properties. Also, most municipalities require that the wall is approved by a licensed engineer because of this. Hiring a reputable contractor ensures that your retaining wall will meet the necessary standards.