Need Help Battling Gravity? Here's What to Consider When Designing a Retaining Wall

Posted on: 18 June 2019

Planning a retaining wall project? Retaining walls help to prevent soil erosion on sloppy landscapes. But they need to be properly designed to fulfill their purpose. Here are some key retaining wall design factors to consider before embarking on the construction of your project.

What kind of soil do you have? 

Generally, clayey soils tend to have a greater water storage capacity than sandy or loamy soils. Therefore, a retaining wall intended to retain clay soil will need to have a greater load-bearing capacity than an equivalent wall meant to restrain sandy or loamy soils. This is because wet clayey soil will exert a greater lateral force on the wall than wet sandy or loamy soil.

You should also keep in mind that virgin soil is more compact and supportive of retaining walls than soil that has been disturbed before by previous landscaping projects. Backfilling may be needed to ensure sufficient compaction of the subsoil. 

The Height of the Wall

How tall do you want your retaining wall to be? The taller the wall, the stronger its foundation should be. This is because taller walls are weightier than shorter ones, thus requiring a more solid construction to remain steady. 

The complexity of the wall construction increases as the height of the wall to be built increases. For example, the bracing technique may be favoured over simpler wall construction techniques that work for shorter walls.

The Wall Construction Material

By design, retaining walls are supposed to be strong and steady enough to withstand the lateral force exerted by the soil that they hold. It goes without saying that a strong and durable material should be used for building the walls. 

Some of the common types of materials available for you to choose from include poured-in-place concrete, precast concrete, brick veneer, treated timbers, flagstone rock and many more. 


Did you know that many retaining wall structures fail because they lack proper drainage? Retaining wall systems need a way to allow water to drain from behind the structural walls. If you don't ensure the water that drains down your walls moves away from the foundation of the walls, then the walls are bound to fail eventually.

There are many different ways to achieve this water-draining mechanism. These include using drain pipes, gravel backfill or prefabricated drainage drains.

The surest way to make the most out of your retaining wall construction is to enlist the help of a professional from the design to the construction stage. They will help you design and build a structural wall that works well for you.


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