We've all admired a beautifully landscaped terrain, complete with rows of flowers and lined with shrubs and terraced to give the feel of expanse. With due respect to the gardeners' contribution, admirable landscaping rests on an appropriate retaining wall construction that creates the desired effects related to terraces, steps, waterfalls, patios, driveways and other special effects. Landscaping is the work of professional contractors that specialize in understanding the varying retaining wall types to suit you while catering to your wishes.
Most of the times the role of a retaining wall is to prevent soil erosion and extend the land for designing a nice landscaping. Retaining Walls have been traditionally made out of blocks of stone. In the modern world, the retaining wall blocks are made out of concrete; these blocks could be solid or hollow, light or heavy. The purpose of both types of retaining walls remains the same: to prevent soil erosion and to maintain the contours of the land. Retaining walls made from man-made concrete blocks are often preferred by many for being custom-made to suit specific design needs, as well as being inexpensive and very durable, offering great strength and making it suitable in most applications.
On the other hand, block retaining walls made of stone have been the choice across centuries owing to certain distinct advantages they offer such as: Walls made of stone are constructed without any mortar or filling; stones are simply stacked and this gives the wall its name: 'dry wall' or the dry stack approach. The biggest plus point of a dry wall is that it acts as a natural drainage system; water does not accumulate behind these walls; it simply seeps through.
As a result, the danger of the wall getting damaged due to water or other weather conditions is negligible. Such damage as does occur is easily repaired. Another advantage is that a 'footing' does not need to be sunk beneath the frost line. Lastly, since a retaining wall is much like a dam trying to hold the pressure of the soil - as well as dealing with soil settling and the destructive heaving and displacement by frost - weight is a critical factor in retaining wall block construction and design and heavy stone blocks work best.
An anchored retaining wall allows for a variety of “fronts” of retaining walls to be supported by anchors driven into the earth behind them and attached by cables or strips. These anchors are usually mechanically driven into the ground and their ends expanded by injecting pressurized concrete or mechanical means. You can use this method to provide additional support to any of the above options and is often used for structurally thinner walls or where higher loads are expected.
The most basic of retaining walls, the gravity retaining wall uses sheer weight and mass to hold the soil at bay. Since it’s mostly about weight, these retaining walls allow for the widest amount of variety when it comes to materials. Bricks, pavers and unmortared stone are just a few options available and dry-stacked stone is a very popular choice. While shorter walls require no additional reinforcement, most will require at least a small trench to be dug for the wall to fit into and some may require a concrete footer to sit on.
A very basic kind of wall usually used when space is an issue, a sheet pile retaining wall is a thin wall of steel, wood, or vinyl that is driven directly into the soil. Often these have a vertically corrugated structure to provide additional reinforcement. These pilings only work in softer soils and a good rule of thumb is that you have to get one-third of the sheet piling driven into the ground for every two-thirds that will be above it. Larger walls will require additional anchoring such as anchored retaining walls.
Sometimes called a reinforced retaining wall from the steel bars that run through the concrete or masonry retaining wall, the cantilevered retaining walls makes use of a retaining wall affixed to a slab foundation that goes under the soil the wall is supporting in an “L” shape. The weight of the above soil holds the slab down so that the wall cannot tip forward. This style is favored in commercial retaining walls for its strength. A “counter-fort” or “buttressed” retaining wall includes additional vertical wings to the foundation that provides additional strength and rigidity.
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