If you live in a home with a sloping landscape, you may worry about soil erosion from time to time. If the grade is steep enough, gravity could work on loose dirt, shifting it, bringing it downward, making it looser. And even if the grade isn’t particularly steep, heavy precipitation can easily facilitate the decomposition’s progress.
Types of Retaining Walls
So how to slow it all down? The most effective method is a retaining wall. These walls are built against inclined landscapes to provide support and re-route water flow. They’re a smart safety measure against landslides. Are you ready to have a retaining wall built for your home? If so, this is the time to decide upon what material to use. Common choices include block, brick, concrete, and wood. Today we’ll examine all four in an attempt to help you with this rather delicate selection. We’re not quite experts, so we got help from local retaining wall contractors at Encinitas Pro Concrete Co. to help put this together for you.
Block retaining walls are sometimes referred to as gravity walls. As its title suggests, they are built with massive stone blocks linked firmly to a tongue and groove system. One nice thing about these walls is they can be built on a tight landscape that can’t afford lots of room. And they go high—17 feet at the max. A block wall can level off soil almost completely, giving owners the freedom to use the landscape for further purposes.
Gravity walls are open to a variety of styles and colors. And since no mortar is used during installation, set-up is a breeze. The blocks stack together like puzzle pieces and remain firm for years. However, one thing that needs pointing out is that the blocks are heavy; lifting them into place can be a chore. And as with any large retaining wall, professional installation is recommended over doing it yourself.
Brick retaining walls are typically built in one of two ways: cavity wall or block core wall. Cavity walls use two brick walls set very close together; the gap in between is filled with concrete to make the wall sturdy. Block core walls are made of CMU blocks and steel, fitted with a brick veneer. They’re both strong, and both look about the same.
Visually, the brick retaining wall projects a handsome, rigid countenance that can be interpreted as a kind of protector of the softscape—which it is. When installed by certified professionals, brick and mortar are strong enough to stand over 6 feet high. You get years of durability to go right along with an old-time colonial appearance.
Another very powerful, reliable material for retaining walls is concrete. Not only that, but the material is probably the most versatile in the bunch, affording you shapes, sizes, and colors to match any landscape at all. The pros and cons of concrete retaining walls are very easily defined, so allow us to list them in turn.
- Strong enough to last a hundred years
- Rust-proof, rot-proof, fire-proof
- Huge variety of colors and designs available
- Low maintenance (you may only need to clean your wall once a year during routine inspection for cracks
- Installation of poured concrete can be—and probably is—too difficult for DIY
- Concrete block retaining walls should not exceed four feet in height
- Removal can be messy and time-consuming
Finally, we have wood. There are three main types of wood used for retaining walls. They are timber, standard wood, and railroad ties. Timber and standard wood are weaker against water, while railroad ties, though more dependable, consist of a toxic chemical, so caution is needed during construction.
Everyone knows how amazing wood can look. Wood retaining walls create a rustic, deep in the forest mood that is borderline enchanting. It blends well with the landscape because it comes from the landscape. Wood is also affordable and relatively easy to install.
Now the bad. Water drainage around the wall needs to be better than adequate; otherwise, moisture can soak into the wood and rot it out prematurely. Termite infestation is almost a foregone conclusion, though it won’t happen right away, and dealing with them isn’t as hard as most people tend to think. A good pest control service can usually eliminate this problem lickety-split.
So there we have it, four materials for retaining walls. All of them are durable, and all of them look amazing when done exactly right. Choosing the material that works best for you boils down to how it will affect your landscape’s overall appearance precisely. If you’re super stuck on what to go with, a professional contractor can also assist with getting you over the hump; he or she can make educated suggestions on how things will look and function. Make your retaining wall as great as it can be by entering its construction process fully prepared. When it’s done, you’re certain to love what you see.