Building a Strong Retaining Wall 

 May 11, 2022

By  admin

Homes often have retaining walls. They are meant to protect a property from errant vehicles that might drive off the road, and they also serve as an aesthetic feature in their own right. However, these walls must be kept strong and maintained regularly so they don’t crumble while under construction or become damaged by erosion over time.

The “how to build a retaining wall on a steep slope” is the article that will teach you how to build a strong retaining wall. The article includes tips, tricks and guidelines for building a retaining wall on a steep slope.

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Constructive Retaining Walls:

People make a lot of mistakes when it comes to retaining wall design. A retaining wall looks to be powerful and capable of keeping back tons of earth from the outside.

However, recklessly putting up bricks might lead to the structure’s ultimate demise. The most durable retaining walls keep just a tiny wedge of dirt behind them, rather than mounds of soil. Behind the retaining wall, compacted earth maintains itself and does not push on the wall.

The compacted dirt is oriented in such a way that it can stand on its own without crumbling. Filler earth is put between the wall and compacted soil, and this is the only force the wall will be able to withstand.

The compacted soil’s slope drives the majority of the filler weight down to the base of the wall, putting a lot of strain on it. As a result, sturdy and heavy wall materials are required. Brick, concrete, and even wood may be utilized as building materials. The hefty materials will remain intact for many years if put properly.

Basic Procedures:

The wall will be built following a canal cut into the earth. This channel should be around 10% of the entire wall height deep. The channel’s function is to secure the base in place and prevent the wall from slipping forward under the stress.

At the bottom of the channel where the bricks will be laid, a foundation, usually compacted dirt, is laid. For added strength, the bricks are stacked on top of each other with the seams offset.

Bricks are placed in a stepped fashion, with each row overlapping the previous one. The wall will be more resistant if it is constructed at an angle. Walls that are constructed straight up are prone to tipping under pressure.

Many retaining wall bricks have a bottom lip that holds the brick underneath it and provides the appropriate inclination. The wall is then covered with gravel, fabric, drainage tubes, and other materials.

Defending Against Water Weakness:

Water flowing through the wall’s foundation and washing away material is a regular issue. Rain, sprinklers, and irrigation water may all run beneath the bricks and wash the foundation away. When water pools up behind the wall and creates tremendous pressure levels, it poses a much bigger hazard. The simplest way to avoid this is to build a barrier that enables water to flow out fast. When coming up with retaining wall concepts, keep the following in mind:

  • Create an impermeable soil layer directly beyond the top brick to prevent the majority of water from leaking behind the wall.
  • Gravel: To enable water to drain rapidly, place a layer of gravel right beneath the bricks.
  • Landscape Fabric: To prevent dirt from entering the gravel, use a fabric liner between the compacted earth and the gravel.
  • Water may flow below the wall if the ditch for the wall is dug too deep.
  • Drain Tube: Installing a drain tube at the base of the wall, directly behind it, ensures ultimate safety.
  • Backfill: Only use backfill that drains well behind the wall.
  • Wall Height: The top of the wall should be flat with the ground, enabling water to flow over rather than behind it if necessary.

The importance of proper compaction

To increase friction and direct as much energy downward as feasible, the filler dirt behind the wall should be compacted as much as possible. This minimizes wall stress, particularly if the filler wedge is extremely big. This can only be accomplished using a compaction tool. These vibrating tools are the ideal resource for the work, despite their loudness. Repeat the procedure until you reach the top, adding a few inches of dirt and compacting it. You’ll need a reinforcing grid behind your wall if it’s tall or constructed of wood. Brick providers should be able to advise you on the ideal grid arrangement. Because topsoil sinks over time, it is useless as a filler. Much better is sand or gravel. Avoid compacting the earth to the point that the wall is pushed outward.

Walls of Wood:

Timber is insufficiently sturdy to serve as a dependable retaining wall. Simply said, the parts aren’t hefty enough. You can still build a wooden wall by using deadman anchors to reinforce the wood. These anchors go from the wall to the earth beneath it, securing the structure and preventing it from shifting. They are put up when the wall is being built. Timber walls, like brick walls, should be stepped and have adequate internal drainage.

High Walls:

The same principles apply even if you are taller than 4 feet. The material behind the wall, on the other hand, may be much too hefty for the bricks to sustain. Builders may employ a mix of pins through the bricks and a reinforcing grid in this situation. Building a wall higher than 4 feet may need a permission. Consult your city’s ordinance.

Instead of a single huge wall, another option is to build a succession of tiers. You’d basically build numerous retaining walls on top of one other. This tiering strategy is beneficial for planting in gardens. To keep pressure off the bottom wall, set each wall back 2x the height of the wall below.

List of Tools: (see more general garden tools here)

  • dirt tamper OR vibration plate (for compaction)
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Gravel
  • Stones that interlock
  • Wheelbarrow
  • String and stakes (To check for levelness)
  • Safety Equipment (Gloves, glasses)


Stones for cutting:

There are instances when breaking a stone in two to serve as an end-stone is necessary. Create a score line around the whole brick using a chisel and hammer. Place the chisel on one of the scoring lines and pound away. It may take a few attempts, but you will finally have a smooth, professional half-brick that you did not have to spend extra for.

As a homeowner, you need to build a retaining wall. A block retaining wall is the easiest way to do this because it’s quick and easy.

Related Tags

  • how much weight can a retaining wall hold
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  • how to build a retaining wall on a hill
  • maximum height of retaining wall without permit
  • does a 2 foot retaining wall need drainage

Emil Schoene

Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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