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Retaining Walls for Residential and Commercial Properties

Retaining-WallsDo you have drainage problems, a sloped yard or simply want to highlight landscaped areas in your outdoor space? Installing a retaining wall may be your solution. Basically, retaining walls are artificial structures which serve to resist the pressure of soil when a change in ground elevation exceeds the angle of repose. In this sense, you could consider a basement as a form of retaining wall, but they have many varied uses.

Cantilever Retaining Walls

The most common of these structures is a cantilever retaining wall.  This is a freestanding barrier with no lateral support at the top. Normally, retaining walls are cantilevered from a footing extending up past the grade on one side and holding back a higher level grade on the opposite side. We plan and construct them to resist pressures from both soil and water. Planning and design is essential when placing retaining walls, Recognizing that their sole purpose is to restrict the natural movement of soil downslope due to gravity is critical. Pressures are lowest at the top of the wall and dramatically increase toward the base. Improper installation for a retaining wall can lead to tipping or complete collapse due to the differences in force on the wall’s surface.

Retaining Wall Best Practices

Retaining walls are constructed using a variety of materials, from stones and concrete blocks, to wood planks and logs. The height and materials of the wall are determined based on a number of conditions.

Among the most important factors when considering materials and placement are: the proposed height of the wall, the type of soil to retain behind the wall, the angle of the slope, and whether any objects of significant weight are located on the slope (structures, vehicles, etc). It is also very important to make sure a drainage solution is in place for the soil above the wall. When the soil absorbs moisture from watering or rainfall, the stress on the retaining wall increase dramatically. Without proper drainage, the wall will be more susceptible to collapse, sliding or tipping. Notably, this is very costly and a potentially hazardous situation.

Uses of Retaining Walls

By far, the most common uses for retaining walls are parking lots and driveways. However, they can also support outdoor patios or border an in-ground pool. Whether the property is residential or commercial, sometimes the contours of the landscape limit the options for the path of a driveway, or the elevation and size for a parking lot. The use of these walls allow driveways and parking lots to exist where it would ordinarily not be possible.

As we all know, functionality doesn’t always mean appearance has to suffer. Stone, concrete and wood (the most common materials for construction of a retaining wall) nicely accent a property. Likewise, they also serve as a foundation for a variety of unique landscaping ideas.

The team at Landscape Solutions provides retaining wall design and installation services for both residential and commercial properties throughout the Piedmont. Contact us today and discover the many ways we can meet your landscaping needs!