Retaining walls are constructed of various materials, such as wood, brick, or stone, but for many, retaining wall blocks designed of concrete is by far the best choice. Heavy retaining wall blocks (sometimes called “dummy” blocks) help keep the soil in front of the foundations down to the depth where it can be easily scraped away. They provide the most durable support because they are the most solid and, therefore, the most resistant to damage. They are not only attractive and pleasing to the eye, but because they resist damage, they also keep water out of your yard. Water retention can be very costly and annoying; for this reason, it is always important to make sure that a retaining wall is sound and well-maintained.
What to Look for Before Your Wall is Up
Whether you hire a contractor or a handyman to build your retaining wall for you, there are a few basic things to look for before your wall is up. First, make sure your retaining wall blocks are level; some base courses are not level and require adding cement to compensate for the unevenness. Also, check that the wall is straight and that there are no trenches or gaps in it. If a trench or hole in the wall becomes more than necessary, fill in the hole to keep water from flowing into the base course.
How to Choose Materials for your Retaining Walls
A contractor or handyman can help you put up your retaining walls, but if you are interested in building your own, there are a few things to remember when choosing the design of the wall. When selecting the material for your walls, consider the climate where you live and which material will hold up best in that climate. If your climate is harsh, you may want to choose stronger materials that can withstand harsh conditions. Earth anchors are a popular option for retaining walls in dry climates. However, you can also use wood, stones, steel, concrete, and other options.
Retaining walls are among the simplest and most common forms of retaining wall systems. Gravity retaining walls depend on a combination of depth of buried mortar, block weight, and the lateral relationship of retaining wall surface to surrounding soil to hold back the excess soil. If constructed properly within their designed height limitations, gravity retaining walls can be an effective and economical solution to increasing property value.
Still, care should be taken to ensure that the wall’s design includes adequate lateral stability to prevent tilting and sag. When built properly within their expected height limits (e.g., under 20 feet for short retaining wall sections) and appropriate reinforcing options (e.g., blocks, concrete, steel ribs, etc. ), gravity retaining wall systems can be an effective and economical solution to increasing property value. Still, care should be taken to ensure that the design includes adequate lateral stability to prevent tilting and sag.
If you want to have both beauty and stability, most experts would recommend having sandstone blocks.
Why You Need Retaining Wall Blocks
Many homeowners mistakenly think that a retaining wall system may not need additional reinforcement because it is buried beneath the ground. However, retaining wall blocks (sometimes referred to as “digging blocks” or “base blocks”) should not be viewed as “free-standing” structures; in fact, retaining wall blocks should be positioned on a concrete footing as well as buried in the earth for effective groundwater management. Landowners should seek building permits from local governmental agencies and professional engineers to determine if the proposed system will increase costs, which could ultimately impact the property’s overall value.