Introduction to Retaining Walls

About Retaining Walls


Retaining WallRetaining walls are a structural addition that is required to retain and hold back soil or rock from moving on sloped or uneven ground levels. Many residential properties are built on sloped land and the purpose of retaining walls is to prevent down slope earth movement, soil erosion and hold back water from irrigating and rainfall. What a retaining wall structure provides is a vertical support system in near grade changes. As for the landscape garden settings, retaining walls can be featured on flat land to elevate single, double or triple garden bed elevations as an affective and eye catching landscape presentation.

Retaining walls don’t just have to featured for their structural strength abilities, they can be utilized as a decorative wall application to complement the entire garden setting and other outdoor features. The options in materials that are specially made and produced for retaining walls is quiet extensive, It is up to the individual consumer and the individual wall requirements including the height and depth ratio.

Retaining WallThe important aspects of any type of retaining wall is selecting the appropriate material, selecting the proper wall design and the most important consideration is proper installation. For medium to large walls, it’s advisable to hire a builder or contractor to build the retaining wall system as they have all the expertise and professionalism to build a wall that will last for many decades.

Types Of Retaining Walls

The height, the width, the depth ratio, the size and other elements will determine what type of retaining wall is more suitable. The most common types of retaining walls include the following:

  • Gravity Wall
  • Sheet Pile Walls
  • Cantilevered Walls
  • Anchored Walls

Gravity Wall

Gravity walls will create and resist pressures from soil and heavy material behind the wall. They are built on an angle that slightly leans back into the retained soil. For small garden retaining walls, no more than 1.5 meters high, the suitable product can be featured from mortar-less stone blocks or concrete pre cast blocks. There is a wide variety of both of these products that range in a multitude of block shapes, block sizes and block textures. They are also available in dry stacked styles suitable for gravity walls and in most cases do not require a footing as the gravity walls are flexible.

Retaining Wall Materials

There is a variety of several types of materials that retaining wall structures are built from, shop around at your local garden center before you make your final decision. Here are some examples of what materials are available for retaining walls.

Natural Stone Wall

  • Natural Stone
  • Brick
  • Concrete
  • Metal
  • Timber
  • Vinyl

Concrete Pre-Cast Blocks

Concrete pre-cast blocks would have to be regarded as the most favorable and most popular material that is often used on residential properties that require a retaining wall. They are a very strong material that provides walls structural stability, they are affordable, they're durable, they're versatile and they're light weight. The other advantage to concrete pre-cast blocks is they are available in numerous block design, shapes, textures and several facing finishes that have the same appearance to natural stone without having to invest high costs as you would expect to pay for any natural stone block. They look absolutely divine and highlight the elegance within the landscaped garden setting.

Timber Sleepers

Timber SleepersMany consumers and home owners still prefer timber sleepers for retaining wall applications to other materials. If this your choice, its imperative that you purchase timber sleepers that has been treated so there will be no issues with termites. The benefit to timber sleepers is they can be painted to any color of your choice to tie in beautifully with the landscape decor or they can be untouched for a more natural appeal. Timber retaining walls should not exceed the height of 2 meters.


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