Retaining walls are structures made to keep earth in place and overcome sloped areas. A lot of factors go into creating a retaining wall, especially since its job is to resist gravity. Examples of these factors are the climate in which the land is in, the type of soil, and the material to be used in constructing. Failure to consider what might happen above and below the surface of the retaining wall will surely result to damage.
A well-made retaining wall usually doesn’t need reinforcement, but those that get up to over 3 feet tall may require one as a precaution. There are many types of reinforcements which also depend on the type of retaining wall you have.
For Brick or Stone Retaining Walls
Brick or stone retaining walls can be reinforced by putting vertical and horizontal steel bars during construction. Metal ties can also be used to further strengthen your “skeleton”.
For deteriorating or damaged Retaining Walls
Deteriorating retaining walls that need reconstruction may be reinforced by using mesh with shotcrete, or sprayed concrete.
But on a more general sense…
Retaining walls of the most common materials including the ones mentioned above can also be reinforced by the following:
By compacting everything. Compaction is key in building a retaining wall- it’s already a reinforcement in itself! A good retaining wall must have an even, compacted base and compacted materials in both the front and back, so that there’s no room for any material or soil giving way or kicking out.
By using geotextiles. Geotextiles are fabrics that are able to filter, drain, and retain soil. These can help in reinforcing when added at the back of a wall before filling it with material.
By using gabions. Gabions are, simply put, cage-like structures that have rocks in them. Putting these behind a wall before filling can strengthen and definitely, reinforce it. In some cases, these are used as the retaining wall itself.
By adding anchor bolts at regular intervals. Anchor bolts are a type of fastener used to attach objects into concrete. To serve as a reinforcement, they must first be drilled into the wall and through the soil behind it, and then injected with grout (a mixture of water, cement, and sand).
By adding chemical treatment to the soil behind the retaining wall. Adding chemicals can increase the angle of repose, or the steepest angle in which the slope is most stable. Doing so will decrease pressure on the wall.
By dewatering the soil. High water content in the soil increases pressure on the wall. Thus, adding weep holes, or the holes that allows water to drain through the wall base, may help in reinforcement. Plants can help too, as they absorb water!
By propping existing structures such as rocks, blocks, and timbers against your wall. Doing this is perhaps the simplest reinforcement you can do. This helps the wall push into the soil, making it more compact. In a way, you’re getting gravity to work in your favour!
Retaining walls require thorough planning, good materials, precision, and a lot of patience- but if you do all the necessary precautions before, during, and after constructing one, you’ll have yourself a sturdy and durable wall in no time.
Improve your outdoor living area with hardscaping. You can incorporate stairs, walkways into your retaining walls for a more functional space.
If you are not sure of how to start your project, CONTACT US today or call (567) 236 - 8232 and our expert contractors can help you from planning to constructing your retaining walls!