A retaining wall’s primary purpose is to support soil at two levels. However, it can also be used to increase outdoor space. Many design options are available in various materials, heights, and styles.
Wood and concrete blocks are the most affordable types of retaining walls. Concrete and stones or bricks follow. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. These include strength, durability, attractiveness, and aesthetic appeal. It is essential to research and plan before you start building your retaining walls.
This article will cover the basics of wall retaining and the various materials and approaches available. It also includes some tips and tricks to keep in mind when building.
Construction of retaining walls
A retaining wall can be a great way to increase the space available in outdoor areas.
Depending on their height, retaining walls can also be used as built-in seating areas. A functional fence can become a focal point in a yard by adding additional features such as lights or plants.
First, size your project
Before you start building DIY retaining walls or hiring a contractor, consider several things.
This project will require more than one because of lifting and moving soil and other materials.
A building permit may be required depending on the dimensions of the retaining walls before construction can begin.
You must include proper drainage in your design, as wet soil can be very heavy. In the past, we have written about drainage.
It is essential to do your research on all the available designs and materials. Plan how you want your retaining wall to look and what steps are necessary to make it successful.
Different types of retaining walls
A retaining wall’s cost depends on its material and additional expenses, such as digging or filling in the gaps.
You must choose a material you are comfortable with. Blocks explicitly made for retaining walls can be an excellent option for those with little experience.
There are four types of retaining walls.
You can choose from wood, concrete blocks, or poured concrete. The order is from cheapest to most expensive. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. It is crucial to research each one before you decide which one is right for your project.
Pressure-treated wood, a cost-effective option for building a retaining wall, is the best choice.
Wood is cheaper than other materials, but there are some downsides. Wood is less durable than concrete blocks or stones, and pieces can be challenging to transport.
This wall requires extra hands and may require the assistance of an engineer if the walls are more than 4 feet (1.2 m) high.
This video by This Old House provides more information about building retaining walls using timber.
Concrete Cinder Blocks
Planning and constructing your retaining wall using interlocking concrete blocks (also known as landscaping blocks) is much easier. You can choose from various colors and designs for these manufactured blocks. These blocks are trendy because they are easy to transport and use but don’t compromise durability or strength.
Handyman Startup has a video that explains interlocking blocks.
We also wrote an article on concrete vs. retaining walls that you can find.
The concrete poured is firm, but better options exist for building a retaining wall. Concrete can only be poured vertically if you have the right experience and are prepared. It is also costly and time-consuming to repair the wall if there are future problems.
Stone or brick
If you are looking for a solid but beautiful retaining wall, the most expensive materials, brick or stone, can be a great choice. Stones can be collected on-site, but ensuring they are securely stacked can be challenging. This makes them more affordable. Bricks are more uncomplicated to stack, and you could use cinder blocks to lower overall costs.
How to Build a Strong Retaining wall
Properly designed and constructed retaining walls can be avoided, reducing the likelihood of future damage. If you want to know more, we have an article on how to build a small fence.
Every material has its strengths and weaknesses. However, you can add materials to strengthen the retaining wall and decrease the chance of it breaking or collapsing.
Amazon.com offers products like My SupplyShed Retaining Geogrid that can be installed during wall construction and provide additional support.
How to Avoid Possible Problems
Three common problems could lead to your retaining wall falling apart:
If the soil behind the retaining wall becomes too wet, tiebacks can provide additional support if you suspect this is a problem.
If you plan and take care when building a retaining wall, all these problems can be avoided. Constructing a sturdy fence is much easier than repairing it later.
Get familiar with the available resources
Many resources can be used to help you complete your project, such as our retaining walls resource. You can find videos online, forums, and step–by–step instructions from landscapers and engineers.
There are also many books on building retaining walls, such as Ultimate guide: Walks and Patios (Creative homeowner), available from Amazon.com. This book is highly regarded and provides directions and design ideas for retaining walls, walks, and patios.
Erecting retaining walls is a great way to open up your garden and create beautiful landscaping features. Wood is the best choice for creating a barrier.
It is crucial to do extensive research before you start building.
The retaining wall must have the correct drainage, reinforcements, and foundation to avoid any potential problems due to frost or wet soil.