A retaining wall is essentially a wall that holds back earth or water. It is involved in the process of landscaping maintenance. Building the right retaining wall is a cumbersome task involving several factors like:
- Location (understanding of property lines and both above ground and underground utilities)
- Soil (the type, bearing capacity stress parameters, and friction angle of the soil need to be determined)
- Environmental factors
- The specific purpose for which retaining wall needs to be used
Designing the retaining wall:
To begin the retaining wall design for landscaping maintenance, you’ll need to work out the corresponding wall heights, footprint measurements, slopes, and setback angle, all of which are influenced by the site’s elevation and grade.
It would be best if you also remembered that the retained substance would inevitably shift downslope due to gravity. This should be discussed in the architecture to decrease the amount of lateral ground pressure behind the wall, which, at its most extreme, will result in the wall collapsing.
Some important points to consider during retaining wall construction:
Wall Reinforcement: If gravity alone isn’t enough to support the wall, there are several reinforcement solutions based on the form of a wall, height, design, friction, slope, soil content, etc., like soil nailing, earth anchors, and rock bolts, among many others methods. Mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) is soil that has been fortified artificially with steel or geosynthetics (such as geogrids). It is placed in between the layers of retaining wall construction of wall blocks and rolled back into the earth.
Drainage: Given that water is the most common cause of retaining wall failure; it’s critical to ensure that your wall has good drainage and that there will be no water buildup behind it. You can do this by determining potential surface water sources and ensuring that drainage adjacent to the wall site is considered. Grading the site for drainage patterns and constructing a drainage system behind the wall to minimize hydrostatic pressure the groundwater could create is also important.
Types of retaining walls:
- Gravity wall: Usually built in a tight area where there isn’t much room to excavate or when you need to access the area behind the wall after it has been built.
- Segmental Retaining Walls: They can be built to suit any shape while optimizing the available space on the site, which is especially useful on steep terrain. They normally have no height limits when reinforced, therefore having multiple commercial and residential applications.
- Cantilevered Walls: Designed in the form of an inverted T of reinforced concrete or mortared masonry, they operate on the concept of leverage.
Other walls include counterfort walls, sheet or bored pile walls, panel walls, and gabion mesh walls.