The Quick And Dirty Of Retaining Walls

2 December 2014
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


Retaining walls are a fairly common landscaping feature which you can find almost anywhere. They are practical, cost-efficient, and easy to construct, which means that they are perfect for amateur landscapers. However, there are quite a few things you should know before building your own, so here's the quick and dirty of retaining walls.

1. What is a Retaining Wall?

By the most basic definition, a retaining wall is used to support soil which would otherwise move downward via gravity. They are critical when building anything on uneven terrain and a flattening of the land is not an option. They also have aesthetic value, because they preserve the natural slopes of a location while simultaneously allowing level pathways to skirt their edges.

2. Why Would I Need a Retaining Wall?

If you have hilly terrain that you wish to landscape, then retaining walls are both an economic and practical option. They remove the need to transport all of the excess soil which makes up the hills, while creating a flat surface for whatever your purposes are. This is much cheaper than the removal of soil and subsequent flattening of the entire area, and requires much less in terms of machinery.

3. The Many Kinds of Retaining Walls

Here is a simple visual guide to aid with the following explanations:

  • Gravity Wall: simple sturdy walls, which are larger at the base than at the top. They are sloped on the visible face, and are flat against the soil in question. They function mainly by supporting the soil through their own gravity, but their simplicity is also their downfall: they are prone to toppling.
  • Piling Wall: a more advanced type of retaining wall, these extend below the surface in order to create a more stable structure. They are much less prone to toppling than gravity walls, but they also require greater excavation. However, since they don't rely purely on their own weight to function, they do not necessarily require as thick of a wall to function as gravity walls.
  • Cantilever Wall: these are a type of gravity wall which incorporate additional components to increase stability at the cost of a more complicated structure. They are identical to gravity walls, except they also include a horizontal slab at the base, underneath the soil being held up. This directly translates into reduced susceptibility to toppling and a more difficult installation process. 
  • Anchored Wall: relatively unique when compared to the previous types, anchored walls use a simple vertical wall that is held in place by cables extending deep into the soil being held up. These cables are attached to sturdy anchors deep within the soil, which provides a strong counterbalance to the weight of the soil.

Each of these choices offers different benefits and detriments, but there are surely variations which suit your needs. Visit a website like to learn more about different types of retaining walls.