In layman’s terms, retaining walls are structures built to hold back the soil. Though the concept sounds very simple, it’s not something that you do with minimal knowledge.
Most of the time, it’s better to leave the retaining wall installation task to the experts. These walls are solid engineering pieces that will never outgrow their usefulness. Since ancient times, these walls improve the productivity, functionality, and aesthetics of various properties.
While residential properties benefit from the installation of retaining walls, most of the time, it’s the commercial properties that make the most out of these. For one, this material can significantly enhance the site’s value.
It can also upgrade the property’s aesthetics, making it a more suitable place to conduct business. However, the uses of retaining walls go beyond those mentioned above.
Table of Contents
A. What’s the purpose of building a retaining wall?
When you choose the right materials like those from Retaining Walls Kelowna BC, your retaining wall can be a highly attractive and valuable aesthetic feature of your property.
An architectural retaining wall, for example, looks stunning only by itself. If you add a set of stairs, complementary plantings, and landscape lighting, your property will surely stand out.
Retaining walls can be installed along corridors and driveways to define the space. These walls are fantastic devices to create interest in any landscape. By now, you also may have seen upscale entryways utilizing retaining walls to build raised spaces for signages or to utilize landscaping beds to frame the point of entry.
Aside from the aesthetic features, here are other uses of retaining walls.
1. Create a flat surface
Here’s a simple fact — a flat ground is always more useful compared to a steep slope. Your retaining wall can easily convert an uneven surface into a flat level one. This will make the construction of such structures as building, sports field, and parking lots possible.
2. Make slopes useful
In various places around the world, mountainsides are cut into steps that are supported by retaining walls. This is called terracing, a technique that converts steep lands into more valuable farmlands.
Terracing can also help prevent soil erosion in steep areas, making the initially vertical landscape easy to maintain. It’s not only the farmers who can benefit from this technique.
You can apply this technique to your commercial space, too. With this, you can transition a grade and allow pedestrian access, even on a steep slope.
Say, for example, you have an impoundment on a lake with a high drop (40 feet or higher) towards the lakefront. Instead of completely condemning the area, you can install a series of retaining walls to carve a bluff into your switchback ramp. With this, people can access your lakeshore on foot.
3. Create wheelchair access
You can also build a retaining wall and use it to create sloped ramps, providing accessibility to handicapped individuals.
4. Build a better drainage system
Retaining walls are also useful when you’re directing water towards your property. They are used to resolve slope issues in areas near bodies of water. If you want to build a retaining wall for this purpose, remember there are various state and local regulations that you have to follow.
Therefore, it’s wise to figure out the different permitting requirements you need to comply with before working on your project design.
5. Hold water
If you intend to build a retaining wall that separates water from land, you need a specialized retaining wall called a seawall. This wall is typically used to provide better water access to pedestrians.
Others also serve as protection from shore erosion and shoreline shifting on docking areas. If this is included in your plan, don’t forget your permitting requirements.
6. Easier maintenance
Maintaining a flat area is far better than planting, mowing, or pruning a slope. So, if you build a retaining wall, maintenance of your space is also simplified. You don’t have to pay hefty landscape maintenance fees. Plus, you also get a natural separator between beds and turf.
Since you already know the different uses and purposes of retaining walls, it’s also equally crucial for you to know the different retaining walls. Knowledge of both topics can help you understand your options as you plan for your retaining wall.
B. What are the different types of retaining walls?
There’s no denying that retaining walls are popular in commercial and residential landscaping. Besides allowing you to transform your bare landscape in tiers around different central features, it also saves your yard from soil erosion and rainwater flow.
It’s clear that retaining walls serve many purposes, but it doesn’t mean that any type of wall can be built in any kind of space. Before you design your retaining walls, you need to figure out first the best type of wall to build in the kind of landscape you have.
Through this, you avoid hiccups along the way. You’ll also get more significant savings on construction costs.
When planning to build a retaining wall, it’s best to go for interlocking blocks since this is stronger and sturdier than nominal ones. Apart from that, it’s also a more economical option.
Here are some of the materials you can choose for your interlocking retaining wall.
1. Natural stones
This is an excellent material to use when planning to build a retaining wall because of its flexibility. You can seamlessly match it with the theme and features of your property.
You won’t be needing a locking system to keep your wall together. All you need to find are the right rock pieces that fit and look good together. It’s a popular choice because of its ease of use.
You just need to stack the good-fitting pieces for each row as you move up the wall. It gives your property a more natural, unique look. And it doesn’t matter if you’re building a small or high wall; these stones will be as aesthetically pleasing and sturdy.
2. Concrete LEGO blocks
The speed of installation is the central selling point of this block. There are no reinforcements inside the concrete blocks, either. This means that you’ll get a durable, long-lasting, and strong retaining wall. They are designed to interlock neatly, giving a strong and clean wall finish.
3. Allan blocks
This type of block has a wide array of applications, but it’s said that this is best for gravity retaining walls. They are usually stacked together to lock them in place and form a setback. The setback is responsible for supporting the wall and withstanding the soil’s pressure behind it.
Now that you know the different purposes and types of materials for building a retaining wall, it’s time to set your plan in motion. Remember that the task of building a strong and structurally-safe retaining wall task is not for the novice.
Instead of doing it yourself, it’s highly advisable to contact a professional to take care of the job. This way, you can ensure that your ideas are precisely carried out without putting anyone or anything in harm’s way.