10 Things To Know About Retaining Walls

When it comes to the types of masonry projects you could have installed in your home, you have a variation of different choices to choose from. You have patios, walkways, staircases and fireplaces as the most popular. One project that tends to get overlooked are retaining walls. The great thing about retaining walls is that they not only enhance the look of your home, they also have a functionality purpose as well. When you are thinking about adding a retaining wall, make sure to discuss your ideas with your masonry contractor to make sure you both are on the right page. Below are ten things to know about retaining walls and how you can utilize these masonry installations.

  1. Incorporate The Wall Into Your Lifestyle – Most people see retaining walls and think that they only have a purpose of holding back soil. The functionality portion is true but you can also use retaining walls to create outdoor living spaces as well as using them in multi-use spaces in your yard. They can hold back the soil as well as being a piece of a patio.
  2. Creative Design – When you think of walls you think of a straight line, however, this doesn’t have to be the case for retaining walls. The great thing about this masonry piece is that your can customize the layout of your wall by adding curves to the design. This will add texture to your landscape and adding dimensions that a straight wall cannot do. You can use a hose or rope to layout your curve then use a shovel to dig in the soil following the curve to start the wall.
  3. Size Matters – With any masonry job, it is always best to seek help from a professional contractor who has years of experience with masonry installations. A wall that is less than four feet in height can be easily put together and planned out accordingly. When it comes to larger walls, there are codes, and practicalities that only a masonry contractor can perform. Be sure to contact a contractor if you are planning on having a large retaining wall.
  4. Think Steps – When building a retaining wall you want to think of terracing. You want to gradually step up the retaining wall get to the desired slope. Do this by placing masonry material in increments that resemble step. This will create a slight offset for each course change.
  5. Blocks & Stones – For retaining walls, the best masonry material to use when constructing is manufactured blocks or stone. This is because these materials offer a consistent look as well as giving a structural integrity and an even base to work with when installing. What is great about these two materials is that they come in an abundance of difference colors that open the doors to your creativity. Just make sure to color match and space out uneven stones or blocks for a great look.
  6. The Base – The most important part of your retaining wall will be the base as this sets the tone for the entire wall. If you have weak base then you can guarantee your wall to collapse, which is why it is important to create a solid base. When creating the base, be sure to dig out your base several inches below grade and compact it to level. A great way to add stability to your base and wall is to add gravel and then sand before adding your first layer of stone or block. With the base being the most important aspect of your wall, it is perfectly fine to take as much time as needed.
  7. Drainage – Most retaining walls have a slope that drops to the wall itself, and with this you need drainage at the base. Without drainage the water could damage the wall and base of the structure. To prevent any damage to your retaining wall, be sure to add gravel and a fabric-covered drainage pipe at the base of the wall. The fabric will prevent clogging of the pipe which saves you time of digging out the pipe and unclogging.
  8. Level It Out – To make sure your wall is consistently balanced and sturdy, make sure to level out your wall during installation. Before, during and after the placing of each layer of stone or block, be sure to level out the current layer to make sure everything is even. The worst feeling is building a wall that looks unprofessional or will collapse in a short period of time because of it not being sturdy.
  9. Add Support – If you want to add additional support to your wall besides a strong base, try back-filling as you build. After each layer of stone back-fill with soil to add support to your wall by tamp in/compacting the soil behind the layer.
  10. Top It Off – When you are getting to the end of your retaining wall, you want to make sure the project has a nice finished look. You can achieve this by adding cap blocks to the top row of your wall. Simply apply masonry adhesive to hold them in place then back fill the caps.

If you have more questions about retaining walls or would like to use our masonry services, please contact us today!

Scroll to Top

Get Your Free Quote

Simply enter your email address to begin our 5-minute online quote request.

Or give us a call directly at 781-269-9709