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5 Types of Retaining Walls for Landscaping

types of retaining walls

Key Types of Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are structures that are designed to hold back soil and prevent it from sliding or eroding away. There are several types of retaining walls, each with its unique design and construction methods.

types of retaining wall

Gravity Retaining Walls

Gravity retaining walls rely on their own weight to resist the pressure of the soil behind them. These walls are typically made of concrete, stone, or brick and are suitable for low heights. The stability of gravity retaining walls is ensured by their weight, which is typically greater than the pressure of the soil behind them. They are relatively easy to construct and require minimal maintenance.

gravity retaining wall

Cantilever Retaining Walls

Cantilever retaining walls are constructed using reinforced concrete and are suitable for medium to high heights. These walls are designed with a base slab that extends outwards and is reinforced by a vertical stem. The stem is then reinforced by a horizontal slab or beam, which provides additional support to the wall. Cantilever walls are more complex to construct than gravity walls, but they are more stable and can resist higher pressures.

 

Cantilever Retaining Walls

Anchored Retaining Walls

Anchored retaining walls are designed with cables or rods that are anchored into the soil behind the wall. These walls are suitable for high heights and are typically made of reinforced concrete. The cables or rods provide additional support to the wall and prevent it from overturning or sliding. Anchored walls are more expensive to construct than gravity or cantilever walls, but they are more stable and can resist higher pressures.

anchored retaining wall

Gabion Retaining Walls

Gabion retaining walls are made of wire baskets filled with rocks or other materials. These walls are suitable for low to medium heights and are relatively easy to construct. Gabion walls are flexible and can adapt to the movement of the soil behind them. They are also environmentally friendly, as they allow water and air to flow through them, which reduces the risk of erosion.

Gabion Retaining Walls

Sheet Pile Retaining Walls

Sheet pile retaining walls are constructed using steel, vinyl, or wood sheets that are driven into the soil. These walls are suitable for low to medium heights and are relatively easy to construct. Sheet pile walls are flexible and can adapt to the movement of the soil behind them. They are also environmentally friendly, as they allow water and air to flow through them, which reduces the risk of erosion.

Sheet Pile Retaining Walls

 

Considerations for Choosing Retaining Walls

When choosing a retaining wall, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you select the right wall for your project. Here are some of the essential considerations to keep in mind:

Cost and Budget

The cost of retaining walls can vary widely depending on the type of wall, materials used, and the size of the project. It is essential to establish a budget before starting your project and to choose a wall that fits within that budget. Some types of retaining walls, such as gravity walls, can be more cost-effective than others, such as cantilever walls.

Location and Soil Conditions

The location and soil conditions are critical factors to consider when selecting a retaining wall. The type of soil, the slope of the land, and the drainage requirements will all affect the type of wall needed. For example, if the soil is loose or sandy, a gravity wall may not be suitable, and a cantilever wall may be a better option.

Aesthetics and Visual Appeal

Retaining walls can be both functional and visually appealing. When choosing a retaining wall, it is essential to consider the overall design and aesthetics of your property. Some types of walls, such as sheet pile walls, may not be as visually appealing as other options, such as gabion walls.

It is also essential to consider the colour and texture of the wall material, as well as any additional features such as lighting or plants that can enhance the overall look of the wall.

 

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Retaining Walls in Residential and Commercial Settings

Retaining walls are commonly used in both residential and commercial properties to support soil and prevent erosion. They are not only functional but can also add aesthetic value to a property. There are different types of retaining walls that are suitable for various applications.

Residential Retaining Walls

In residential settings, retaining walls are commonly used to create a level surface for landscaping, prevent soil erosion, and provide additional outdoor living space. Common materials used for residential retaining walls include concrete blocks, timber, and natural stone.

Concrete block retaining walls are popular due to their durability and versatility. They come in different sizes and shapes, making them suitable for various applications. Timber retaining walls are also common, especially for smaller walls. They are easy to install and can be stained or painted to match the surrounding landscape. Natural stone retaining walls are ideal for creating a natural look and feel. They are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Commercial Retaining Walls

In commercial settings, retaining walls are commonly used for structural support, erosion control, and to create additional parking or outdoor space. The type of retaining wall used in commercial settings depends on the specific application and load requirements.

Cantilever retaining walls are suitable for taller walls (up to 20 feet) in commercial properties. They are strong and durable, capable of supporting significant loads. Gravity retaining walls, on the other hand, use the mass of the wall system to retain the soil. They are a good option for softer ground as they spread the load over a wider area. Anchored retaining walls are ideal for areas with limited space as they rely on cables or rods anchored in the soil behind the wall to provide additional support.

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