If you have a long, sloping driveway or yard, it is probably beautiful, but without the right type of protection, it can also be a pain if you want to do anything with the yard. For instance, there is no way that a swimming pool can be installed on a yard that is sloped. A teeter totter for the kids would never work right. Outbuildings would not be able to sit properly. This is why you see so many homes that have retaining walls around them. This is a great way to level out the property and still keep it looking really great. Checkout Making a retaining wall.
Retaining Wall – What Is It?
Basically, it is any wall that supports a structure and protects it against the advancement of water or earth. There are many different uses for these walls, including in homes for garages, to keep earth from driveways and stairways, keeping riverbanks from eroding, separating roads and highways, and to protect drivers from roadside embankments.
Construction of These Walls
There are different ways to build these walls, and how you build yours will actually depend on the type of retaining wall you intend to build. There are a number of basic construction methods for these walls, with the most popular being retaining walls made from concrete. Some of the other more popular types of these wall construction include:
- Interlocking block
- Insulated concrete form
There are all kinds of neat things you can use as materials for building a retaining wall. Some of the more popular styles are built with stones and/or concrete, but some people are getting really creative with the things they are using for their retaining walls. Some people even use old railway ties to make really interesting looking walls.
If you are planning on building one of these walls, there are certain tools that you are going to need to have on hand. Obviously, you are going to need a shovel or other tools that you can do some digging with. This is not a job that doesn’t require a lot of labor…you are going to have to really get into some tough work, including digging, to get your wall built. Other tools you are going to need include a tape measure, a wheelbarrow, landscaping fabric, safety glasses and gloves, wooden stakes and string for marking off the area, a soil tamper, a level and some gravel.
There are many different versions of retaining walls, and you can choose to have yours as one that is cantilevered or anchored, or piling and gravity versions. When you are planning out how you are going to build your wall, it is important to take many things into account, including the rate of flow, where water runs off the most, and drainage. You do not want to have your retaining wall holding standing water, which is not only going to ruin the wall over time, but is also attractive to mosquitoes that carry viruses. Gravel and rocks can be used effectively to keep water from running directly into walls.
The top layer of your retaining wall should be at least six inches higher than the ground around it, and if you have a heavy water flow, you may want to make it even higher. It is better to be safe than sorry, and going higher may not always be necessary, but it will provide you with extra protection. Usually, retaining walls are no higher than five feet tall, and soil can be used as a great base for cantilever style retaining walls.
Proper Drainage Is Vital
Once you have actually constructed your retaining wall, then it will need to be back filled on one side to create a lot of pressure, which will keep cracks from appearing in the wall and water seeping in. It is also important to ensure that while you are constructing this wall that you include a proper drainage system, which will prevent certain things that are caused by water seepage, including funky green slime on the walls, efflorescence, rust from wall ties and mineral deposits.
A proper drainage system can also help to prevent some of the problems that are caused by freezing and thawing, which is going to happen if you live in an area where the winters are cold and summers are warm. A drainage membrane installed will help to keep these problems from happening.
When you have a properly built retaining wall, you can have a nicely landscaped property, without having to worry about the damages that can be caused by running water. Check out the different styles of retaining walls today, and decide which one is going to be the best for your property.