Sloping sites can benefit from the construction of retaining walls to provide more level areas for planting and other uses; walls are one of the most popular and useful hardscape additions to the landscape. It’s extremely important to understand the possibly catastrophic consequences of poor design or construction; the significant physical forces involved in holding back large quantities of soil require very thorough engineering and careful construction. The drawings and photo below show a wall built with interlocking concrete block, one of the best alternatives for a retaining wall; construction of other types of walls such as stone, timbers and railroad ties, share many of the underlying principles shown in the diagrams. The installer will be wise to resolve any questions or concerns with the help of a qualified professional; you really don’t want to do this project twice!
(Above retaining wall graphic used by permission from Versa-Lok)
Notice the provisions included to facilitate drainage; it is essential to allow water to flow away from the back of the wall. Also notice the use of geosynthetic reinforcement to help tie the wall into the soil; traditional wood timber walls use a similar construction technique with “dead men” beams anchored back into the soil. These modular blocks are designed to produce the slight stair step lean back into the hill. Though this project requires dedicated planning and flawless execution, it’s not out of the range for the energetic first-timer. Be sure to obtain all essential installation manuals and specifications from the manufacturer or supplier.