Construction companies use retaining walls for various purposes. Retaining walls are primarily constructed to hold the soil behind them. Other purposes include enhancing aesthetic appeal, preventing soil erosion, and making slopes useful.
When coming up with an appropriate design, big block retaining wall construction specialists have to consider a variety of factors, whether the wall is intended for commercial or residential use. All the quality services you will receive will cost you around $70-$150 per hour if you hire a landscape architect. In some cases, they will charge a certain percentage of your project budget— usually 5%-15%.
In this article, we shall explore the various retaining wall uses and the consideration made by construction companies when constructing them.
Uses of Retaining Walls
1. Prevention of Soil Erosion
Construction companies use these construction elements to keep the soil behind them intact. They are made strong enough to withstand the lateral force exerted by the soil. As such, runoff water would not wash the soil away from your property.
The most common type of retaining wall for this use is the gabion wall. Contractors highly recommend them for areas that are prone to soil erosion.
2. Visual Appeal
When taking on real estate projects, construction companies often recommend retaining walls to property owners who want a unique design created on their landscape. These components work magic for such projects. ?
Retaining walls are used to create a usable surface area for the implementation of landscaping ideas that improve a property’s curb appeal. For instance, retaining walls? are used to enclose garden areas where flowers and shrubs are planted to make the landscape beautiful.
3. Making Slopes Useful
Steeply sloping land is difficult to work on. Construction companies will not declare a project unviable just because the proposed project is located on a slope. They have to find a way to work around the slope and make the project successful. Retaining walls are almost always their go-to-place.
Most mind-blowing landscaping ideas can only be implemented on flat or relatively flat surfaces. These walls are used to create the workable surface areas, usually in a series of levelled out areas. For instance, contractors build retaining walls on sloping land when constructing a patio.
4. Ensuring Safety
Professional construction companies use retaining walls to enhance safety around commercial and residential properties. For instance, since these structures control the flow of water around a property, the chances of one slipping when moving around are reduced significantly. Health hazards related to flooding are also reduced.
Retaining walls hold back soil particles and debris. Therefore, sections of the property that face busy roads or other public areas with significant human traffic are fitted with them to avoid the debris falling off and causing accidents.
Important Elements Considered When Constructing Retaining Walls
1. The Foundation
During construction, contractors have to make sure the wall is properly anchored in the soil. The type and strength of the foundation will determine how strong the wall will be to hold the soil behind it.
The type of foundation will vary depending on the type of retaining wall. For instance, large walls will require a structural footing that is buried under the ground; poured concrete is used in most cases. A small retaining wall can make do of a gravel-filled trench.
This is perhaps the most important element because it facilitates the primary function of retaining walls which is to hold back the soil. This is achieved using a design called step-back construction. It entails sloping the wall slightly towards the earth it is meant to retain.
Construction companies also apply other structural support techniques to keep these construction elements from toppling over due to the weight of the soil. They include cantilevered designs, steel reinforcement and tie-backs anchors locked against soldier piles behind the wall.
Water is a problem often faced by landscapers when constructing retaining walls. Failure to create a proper drainage system may cause water to collect behind the wall and become a nuisance or compromise the structural integrity of the soil retention system.
Most companies choose to provide channels through which water drains off the site such as perforated pipes installed along the inside of the wall or at the bottom of the wall. In some cases, the wall is backfilled with sand or gravel through which water seeps into the ground. ?
4. The Backfill
Once the wall has been constructed, the section directly behind it needs to be properly filled and the surface levelled. This space should be backfilled with either the soil that was extracted from it, gravel or sand.
Gravel and sand are highly recommended by professional landscapers because they allow water to drain away from the property. There is a tendency of some contractors filling this section with dirt. Professional construction companies discourage this practice because dirt often absorbs moisture and swells upon saturation, hence exerting extra pressure on the wall.
Choosing The Right Wall
Retaining walls can vary from the small stone walls to large concrete superstructures. When designing them, construction companies have to consider a variety of factors. This helps them determine the strength, reinforcement method, height and absorption requirements of the structure. The factors include;
Contractors have to consider where the structure will be situated relative to other elements such as underground utilities. It is paramount that they are erected with a clear understanding of the property lines.
2. Additional Load
Apart from the load of the soil behind the structure, landscapers consider any surcharge forces that will be incident on it upon completion. They may include parking lots, fencing elements, or swimming pools. The resultant structure must be able to sustain the load.
3. Drainage Patterns
Wall experts also put into consideration the natural drainage patterns of the site. They should be erected in such a way that they do not interfere with the natural drainage of the property. Interference of a high degree may have adverse impacts on the environment.
The Bottom Line
Whichever purpose you would like your retaining wall to fulfill, seeking the advice and services of a professional landscaper or wall builder is very crucial. Improper installation may lead to cracks on the structure or pose danger to property users.
Your competent construction company of choice will make all necessary considerations before commencing the project. The contractor will evaluate the soil, location, natural drainage pattern and any surcharge load in order to deliver a strong enough structure that fits your needs.