What Is A Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall holds back the earth and creates level ground for a yard or hillside slope. Retaining walls are used for land management purposes or to accomplish a variety of landscaping objectives. The ultimate and primary job of the retaining wall is to create a barrier to hold the soil. A retaining wall is often used to protect against soil erosion or to create a flower bed on level ground. But, there is also a form to the function. A retaining wall will typically also add to the overall look of the landscaping. These walls can create a decoratively pleasing addition to the curb appeal when done well.
Which Kind of Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall is typically one of two basic types of structure. The two kinds are geogrid reinforced and gravity. It's essential to determine which type is necessary to help determine the kind of materials used.
Geogrid Reinforced Retaining Wall
Due to the amount of soil that a retaining wall must hold back, the most challenging jobs must be structurally equipped to withstand the expected amount of pressure. The geogrid utilizes a type of material, similar to netting, laid vertically between the earthen layers. The mesh is incorporated into the earth on the slope and attached to the wall's structure to provide extra support. The result is like having multiple layers rising to the surface at the top of the retaining wall.
The Geogrid style of reinforcement is a specialty method that is only available with walls using certain material options. Because of its additional support, a wall with an expected considerable height should plan for materials that allow for a geogrid construction.
Gravity Retaining Wall
Outside of these conditions that mandate the geogrid construction, most retaining wall builders will opt to use the standard construction method using a gravity retaining wall. The gravity option is the one most commonly used for home and garden projects. They are often shorter, as most homes are built on lots without a severe degree of slope. There is a limit to how tall a gravity wall can be built before it can no longer support itself and the earth. These walls frequently reach an average of around four feet but can be as tall as ten feet if the load is not overly demanding.
Wall Construction Materials
As the retaining wall is factored into the landscaping, designers can get creative with the types of materials used. The walls can have a strictly utilitarian look or one that is limited only by the imagination. The wall can be coordinated with the rest of the overall look of the grounds. Some unconventional materials options include railroad sleepers, natural stones, wall stones, bricks, and various treated woods.
A retaining wall can be made from any number of materials. Some favorites are rocks, boulders, poured concrete, concrete blocks, bricks, or treated wood. These options will vary in price, how they can be used or constructed, how long the material is expected to remain in place, and the amount of maintenance expected.
Pros and Cons
The appearance of the material is not the only factor to consider. There are pros and cons to each of the choices. For example, wood is a commonly selected material for those who want to keep costs down. Wood is also a relatively easy material for the layman constructing a retaining wall. The downside is that the wood breaks down over time and exposure to the elements. It will require maintenance sooner and more frequently than the other options.
Rocks and concrete materials are more formidable against the weather, will require less maintenance, but they may not offer the look the homeowner is interested in achieving. The overall result may be more appropriate for a business than a residential property.
Some stunning retaining walls can be constructed using stones or boulders. The effect will offer natural, lasting beauty, but it won't be cheap. Walls made of stones or boulders may fall a bit short on their ability to serve the practical side, allowing for more water to pass through than the wall intends. Also, the masonry knowledge required for this type of wall is often outside the regular handyman's realm of experience.
A cast-in-place retaining wall, aka a mortared wall, is another option. This option is different because of the method by which the wall is constructed. It will often offer a similar variety and style of materials. Some options for a cast-in-place retaining wall could include veneers, flagstones, or bricks. The uniqueness of these types of selections will frequently result in a highly individualized and custom-finished wall. The downside is that they demand expert construction, which increases the cost significantly. Finally, since these walls are put in place as a solid structure, they are susceptible to damage, such as natural events like earthquakes.
Lastly, there's the segmental retaining wall (SRW). This type is arguably one of the easiest to build. This wall is made up of concrete blocks with an interlocking feature that, when joined together, compiles the expanse of the wall. There's no masonry required, and the blocks are readily affordable. Best of all, they typically endure for decades.
Choosing The Right Material
it is essential to weigh all the pros and cons of each option to select the material best suited for the project. The builder must factor in the price, degree of building difficulty, preferred aesthetic, and how much maintenance can be devoted to the wall once it's in place. Further, the type and volume of soil that the wall will be holding back, the wall's expected height, and what other existing structures may be above the area where the wall is to be constructed are additional considerations.
Constructing a practical and visually pleasing retaining wall can present a challenge. It requires extensive planning and knowledge. If you need an expert to partner with you to avoid any pitfalls with your retaining wall in Kelowna, BC or the Okanagan, Kelowna Retaining Walls is your local retaining wall builders. Our hardscape contractors are ready to help.
Retaining walls are great for stabilizing the hills and soil behind them but they are often not high enough for home security purposes. That is why fences are built on top of them or behind them to provide security. Customers often ask Kelowna Retaining Walls representatives if they can install fences on top of retaining walls themselves. Adding a fence to a retaining wall requires a bit of skill, the proper materials, and considerable time and labor. There are several factors to consider when planning to build a fence on top of a retaining wall.
What is a Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall is a thick wall built to control and retain the soil behind it. Retaining walls can be built of several different materials including poured cement, brick, concrete block or stones.
The objective of building a retaining wall is to stabilize a hill or uneven ground with a strong structure that will last for decades in every kind of weather. The retaining wall will hold back the dirt and rocks behind it, allowing for a nice level landscape in front of it.
Planning This Fence Project
Planning any project is important and can determine its success. There are several considerations for a fencing project in Kelowna, B.C.
1. Does it require city of Kelowna approval?
The first step in a retaining wall and fencing project is to check with the city to learn what their rules and requirements are for this type of project. When the land will be excavated and a general difference in ground level is more than one meter, city approval may be needed.
2. Give notice to neighboring landowners.
Avoid complaints and hard feelings by notifying the neighboring landowners of your project plans. Your retaining wall will affect them in some way. They need a warning about the project so they can be prepared.
3. Will your work affect the neighbor's land?
Any project that involves digging or filling land within 600mm of the property boundary will affect the adjoining land. Excavations traveling downward at a slope from 600mm below the natural ground level is included.
Building your own Fence
First, the retaining wall should be well-designed and properly constructed. The plans should include the addition of a fence. Consideration should be given both to the material used in the retaining wall and the material that will be used for the fence. The retaining wall should be strong enough to support a fence. Keep in mind that the added fence will mean more overturning force when there are strong winds.
The wall and the fence should be strong enough to resist wind and other forces without collapsing. If the wall will have a fence on top of it, there should be properly installed PVC pipes to support the fence. The fence needs enough support to make it strong enough to withstand any force against it and provide the home security that is needed.
Different Fence Installation Plans
There are three different ways to locate and install fences. A fence can be located three feet behind the retaining wall, behind the block, and on top of the wall.
1. 3 feet behind the retaining wall
The most preferred location for a fence is 3 feet behind the wall. This fence location takes the pressure off the wall and allows for a strong fence installation.
2. Behind the block
Fence installation close to the wall block will require professional design and building. The fence must be constructed without damaging the retaining wall structure or support so the top of the wall can resist any forces from the fence.
3. Fences on top of the wall block
Fences located on top of the wall structure are the most challenging of the three fence constructions. The services of an engineer might be required to analyze the wall to make sure its design and strength can support a fence. The wall should be 200-400mm tall for a fence to be built directly on top of it. The fence posts must be embedded in the blocks and secured with concrete for strength and stability.
Building a Fence on an Older Retaining Wall
The wall will need to be inspected and found to be strong enough to support the added fence. If the fence will be behind the wall and require digging for the posts, that digging should be done by hand for minimal damage to the geogrid. The geogrid is the material used to reinforce the soil near the retaining wall.
The ideal location of the fence with an existing retaining wall is three feet behind the wall block. Adding a fence on top of an existing wall block presents challenges for fence installers.
Should You Hire a Professional or Try DIY in Adding a Fence?
The decision to hire a professional to install your new fence or to install the fence yourself depends on several factors. Do you have the required skill and the time to install a fence? Have you ever installed a fence before? The fence design and plan may be more complicated than you can handle. Installing the fence may take a considerable amount of time.
A professional has the tools, training, and experience to install the new fence properly and quickly without damaging the retaining wall. The decision might hinge on the height of the retaining wall and the style of the fence to be installed.
For your retaining wall in Kelowna, BC, give us a call.
Properly planned and constructed retaining walls serve a dual purpose. They add beauty and aesthetic appeal to your landscape while protecting the soil and adding functionality to an outdoor space.
While the concept of retaining walls may sound confusing and technical at first, it is actually one of the most common landscaping elements used on properties around Kelowna, B.C. With retaining walls, it is possible to add new functionality to a property that would be impossible without them.
Today, retaining walls are made from several material options. Some of the most common materials used for construction include wood, natural stone, concrete, and brick. Each option has its own pros and cons, but there is one that stands out from the group: stone pavers. Not only do stone pavers look great, but they can also help extend the life and increase the durability of any retaining wall constructed.
The biggest benefit of using stone pavers for retaining walls rather than wood or concrete is that you have an eco-friendly option that is more durable, chemical-free, and low maintenance.
Keep reading to learn about why paver retaining walls are smarter options for any property and learn about the biggest benefits they provide.
The Impact of Retaining Walls on Erosion
When it comes to practicality, retaining walls provide several layers of protection to a landscape design. The most prevalent of these benefits is helping to prevent flooding issues and erosion.
Maintaining a property’s lawn and landscape requires several steps and processes. Some of these things include pruning and trimming, watering, weed control, and fertilization. When a property owner invests their money, energy, and time in these things, it can be frustrating to see issues related to soil erosion and flooding. In fact, these problems can undo all the hard work that has gone into ensuring a landscape looks great.
When designed properly, retailing walls can deter this issue by redirecting the water during a storm so that damaging pools and puddles are not created around the home or anywhere else on the property. As time passes, erosion will also impact the home’s foundation and weaken the stability of the land that the home is constructed on. This may cause even more issues in the future. If the look of the landscape and property is not a priority, retaining walls can also help to protect the home’s foundation, which makes this a smart investment for any property owner.
In most cases, people consider their lawn the “landscaping” elements of the property, and the retaining wall is a hardscape feature. Using stone pavers for this hardscape feature is a smart option because they create an interlocking design that adds to the functionality and overall appeal of the space. The main design element is the interlocking paver or block design that can be created. With the interlocking paver feature, an extremely durable wall is created, and it provides more protection. Without the retaining wall, or if a subpar material is used, weather can cause serious problems for the landscape.
The Benefits of Using Pavers for Retaining Walls
Now that it is clear why having a retaining wall is so beneficial, it is a good idea to find out why stone pavers are a smart option for the creation of this wall.
With pavers, it is possible to create a more seamless experience when it comes to ensuring the wall blends into the landscape. The look of the yard and property will seem more natural and cohesive. Also, since it is possible to customize the wall’s design when interlocking pavers are used, it is possible to create the look that is desired.
There are several practical benefits offered by using paver for the construction of retaining walls, too.
As you can see, the construction of a retaining wall makes sense for many properties. Contact the professionals at Kelowna Retaining Walls to learn more.