Categories: DIYHome Decorideas

Retaining Wall Ideas

Retaining Wall Ideas – In a landscape with problem such as erosion, retaining walls are practical and beautiful elements to include on it. They can help to battle the gravity and offer unique planting opportunities as well. A retaining wall can also be a perfect DIY project for a variety of skill levels. We have rounded several retaining wall ideas to decorate and build your landscape.

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What is a Retaining Wall?

Before we go further, what is actually a Retaining wall? It is actually rigid walls used to support soil laterally so that it can be retained at different levels on the two sides. They are structures designed to restrain soil to a slope such as steep, near-vertical or vertical slope. They are used to bind two uneven soils often in areas of terrain with unwanted slopes or in areas where the landscape needs to be designed severely and engineered for more specific purposes like hillside farming or driveway overpasses.

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Types of Retaining Wall

There are four basic types of retaining wall, they are gravity retaining wall, cantilevered retaining wall, sheet piling retaining wall, and anchored retaining wall.

1. Gravity Wall

Image Soure: homestratosphere.com

Using sheer weight and mass to hold the soil at bay, gravity retaining wall is the most common retaining wall type on the list. Because it’s mostly about weight, it has the widest amount of variety when it comes to materials Out of all material available, dry-stacked stone is a very popular choice. Excluding the shorter walls, most of this wall type will require at least a small trench to be dug for the wall to fit into, and some even require a concrete footer to sit on.

2. Cantilevered wall

Image Soure: homestratosphere.com

Cantilevered retaining wall is a reinforced retaining wall from the steel bars that run through the concrete or sometimes also called masonry retaining wall. These walls make use of a retaining wall affixed to a slab foundation that goes under the soil with a support of an “L” shape. The weight of the above soil helps to hold the slab down so that the wall cannot tip forward. This wall style is favored for its strength.

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3. Sheet Piling Wall

Image Soure: homestratosphere.com

A sheet pile retaining wall is usually a thin wall of steel, which interlock with each other.  Even though wood, vinyl, or reinforced concrete can also be used, steel is commonly used due to its advantage to withstand large bending forces and pressure.

Sheet pile walls bring structural resistance by utilizing the full section. When set together, they form a wall for either permanent or temporary earth support, along with anchors for extra lateral support.

Steel sheet pile walls are most frequently used in deep excavations, although in some cases, reinforced concrete sheet piles have also being used successfully.

Sheet pile wall disadvantages are:
1. It is rarely be used as part of the permanent structure.
2. Installation of sheet piles is challenging in soils with boulders or cobbles. In such cases, the desired wall depths may be difficult to reach. 
3. Excavation forms and shapes are strongly dictated by the sheet pile section and interlocking elements.
4. Sheet pile driving may cause loud noise.

4. Anchored Type Wall

Image Soure: homestratosphere.com

Anchored retaining wall type is used when bulk excavation for traditional geogrid reinforced segmental walls is not possible or impractical.

This wall use anchors which are driven into the earth behind them and attached by cables or strips. These anchors are mechanically driven into the earth and their ends extended by injecting pressurized concrete or mechanical means. Basically the ground anchors are driven back into the residual soil to the required depth. All earth anchors must proof tested up to 90% of yield strength. Working loads are typically between 50% and 90% of the proof test value.

The method is used to provide additional support to any of the above options and is usually used for structurally thinner walls or where higher loads are expected.

In terms of materials, there at least 4 basic types of materials available, they are concrete, stone, brick and wood materials.

Retaining Wall Cost

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Retaining wall materials may vary in price from relatively cheap to very expensive. In choosing the right one, you must be sure about the walls type that you want as well as the budget plan. Keep in mind that choosing the cheapest retaining wall material may not beneficial in the long run as the materials might be rotten or broken. For example, Treated pine and even hardwood won’t last as long as concrete blocks or natural stone. 

When you are planning to have a retaining wall for a long time, you must answer these questions: Why do you want to choose the cheapest retaining wall material or would more expensive materials flatter your property? If a retaining wall is professionally installed it the average cost (per square meter) would be:

  • $250 to $450 for wood materials (treated pine or hardwood timber)
  • $300 to $500 for sandstone wall blocks
  • $400 to $680 for reinforced concrete wall blocks
  • $550 to $750 for concrete wall blocks

The price variation will depend on the complexity of the job. If it’s a flat surface and nothing needs to be removed, the installation will cost less. If the surface is uneven or blocks of stone need to be removed, the cost will be higher.

Steep Hillside Landscaping Ideas

Photo by Natalie DeNormandie

A retaining wall can turn unused hillside steep slopes into living space if you do the building carefully.

Even though retaining walls are simple structures, sometimes mistakes are made which cause the damage to the walls itself. Most of the retaining walls have poor drainage, and many are even poorly built to handle the hillside they’re supposed to hold back.

Retaining Wall Ideas for Sloped Backyard

Front Yard Retaining Wall Ideas

Everybody wants to make their home and garden better and appealing. Besides these cosmetic purpose, homeowner also needs to protect their land from erosion and other possible damage, particularly when dealing with spring downpours and harsh winters.

Building an attractive retaining wall in your front yard serves a dual aesthetic and functional purpose. A strong, attractive wall supports your soil and protects your structures, but it also adds beauty and usability to your yard.

How to Build a Small Retaining Wall

How to Build a Small Retaining Wall – Building a simple retaining wall is pretty easy as it is available at most home stores.

The hardest part may be lifting the blocks from the shelf at the store, getting them to your vehicle, taking them out of your vehicle and putting them into a comfortable, accessible place to begin work.

Cheap Retaining Wall Ideas

Wood material make a cheap retaining wall. You can set vertical ones first into the ground to act as supports, and then stack the other timber horizontally behind them. But, again, wood isn’t material which is going to last a lifetime.
Other option is using wall blocks which look much better and last much longer, but they do more expensive.

Driveway Retaining Wall Ideas

The first thing to consider when planning your new driveway is the load for the retaining wall. Then you consider the blueprint for the design. Then, the last but not least is the drainage system. Improper drainage can make the water flowing to the wrong places, which may damage your driveway.

Wood Retaining Wall Ideas

Wood material is easy to find as it is literally everywhere. Moreover, it is easy to install compared to other materials. Despite all of these perks, unlike other materials, wood doesn’t last long as it may rot.

One of the strength of wood is the design. Wood retaining wall can easily blend to the nature and can relate to almost any style.

Even though it may rot, if installed with right material, waterproofing, and preservatives, it can stand for 20 years or more.       

Concrete Wall Ideas

Concrete Retaining Wall Ideas – Concrete retaining wall is divided into two major options, the block type and poured concrete type. The first type is easier project to do than the poured concrete type. While poured concrete type, on the other hand, is an easy choice when you want a stronger wall type even though it may crack.

How to Build a Brick Retaining Wall

Brick retaining wall is known for its durability and strength. Although the installation may not an easy one, the result is astonishing. It suits well for traditional style homes and landscapes. 

Building a Wall with Railroad Ties

Building a Retaining Wall with Railroad Ties – One of the really good looking improvements that anybody can make to their sloped landscape is in the form of a railroad tie. 

Railroad ties are used for a variety of home landscaping techniques for example constructing a retaining wall, building a walkway, or framing of a garden.

Railroad ties are reasonably priced, inexpensive, and if the wood is treated with some chemicals, it may have long term of durability. The mainly complicated feature to work with railroad ties is none but their heavy weight. Railroad ties are extremely weighty and difficult to be moved simply. Yet, the building process is not that hard. Once the ground is prepared, the process of building a railroad tie retaining wall is very straightforward. It is labor intensive so it takes a lot of time. Paying attention to the process is the key to ensure that the wall will remain standing for many years to come

Kevin Darabont

I am a freelance writer who loves to craft, home decor improvement, and active DIYers. I am happy to share my knowledge and experience to the world and learn new things everyday.

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