Dos and Don’ts of Retaining Wall Installation

If your landscape has soil erosion problems, adding retaining can greatly transform your outdoor space. A basic retaining wall can support up to 20 tons of soil pressure. These rigid walls are effective in holding soil in place and improving drainage.

By installing well-built retaining walls, you can resolve problems caused by steep slopes. Since retaining wall installation requires some planning, these are the dos and don’ts of building one in your landscape.

DO plan properly

Proper planning can make all the difference in the success of your retaining wall installation. The beginner is a very crucial part because this can make or break your project. Before starting any form of work, you must carefully plan the retaining wall layout. This will help you prepare for any mishaps. Without a solid plan, your retaining wall could end up ruining the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your entire landscape.

DO choose the right material

There are different materials used for retaining walls. Some materials you can pick from are concrete, brick, large timber, and gabion. Each option has several advantages over other materials. The choice of material will depend on your desired appearance and budget. 

Choosing the retaining wall material should be done right the first time. If you pick the wrong material, the retaining wall will fail and cost you a lot of money. To determine the best retaining wall material, you may consult with a professional landscaper.

DO start with a good foundation

Your retaining wall is as strong as its foundation. Creating a good foundation for a retaining wall is essential for stability and longevity. A weak foundation won’t be able to withstand the weight of the entire wall. When you skip this step, your wall might collapse under pressure. That’s why it’s necessary to focus on the wall’s base to protect its integrity. Here are some of the steps when building a good foundation:

  • Dig out a trench where the wall will be built
  • Add a layer of crushed rock or gravel for stability
  • Lay the base material in the trench
  • Tamp down the base material using a plate compactor
  • Start laying the blocks for your retaining wall

DON’T forget to check with the authorities

A permit is usually required when tackling a home addition project like retaining walls. In some areas, a permit is necessary if the structure is over four feet high. You may have to submit plans for your retaining wall and ensure that no utility lines will be damaged. The exact type of permit required for the retaining wall depends on the zoning rules and regulations in your specific area. If unsure, make sure you ask the authorities before starting the work.

DON’T lay blocks on an unlevel surface

The first row of blocks should be evenly aligned from the initial installation. When blocks are laid on an unlevel surface, subsequent rows won’t be level either. A lopsided retaining wall can affect the overall look of your lawn area. To prevent this, you need to prepare a sturdy and solid foundation for the wall. A rake can be used to compact ground until the gravel layer is completely level and stable.

DON’T forget to install drainage

Groundwater is an enemy of retaining walls. When water accumulates behind the wall, it creates hydrostatic pressure that leads to structural damage. Groundwater is also the main cause of erosion and soil instability. Soon enough, the retaining wall will begin to shift or collapse. Proper drainage is the answer to these issues.

By installing a drainage system, you can prevent erosion caused by groundwater. A perforated drainpipe can help transport groundwater to the end of the wall. This drainage system will redirect water away—like some form of an escape route. 

Final Takeaway

By following the dos and don’ts of building a retaining wall, you can create a functional structure for your outdoor space. When it comes to retaining walls and other hardscaping features, Midstate Landscaping is the go-to company. We provide top-notch lawn care and yard maintenance in Carlisle, PA. From landscape design to mulching, our reliable team can get the job done right. 

For more details about our landscaping solutions, give us a call today! Let’s transform your outdoor space into something you’ve always dreamed of.