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Building Retaining Walls: Dos and Don’ts  

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If you live on a slope, learn about a landscaping method that can help prevent soil erosion while also beautifying your backyard—and how simple it can be to DIY with the correct supplies. 


Retaining walls serve Paving stones driveways in Maple Ridge, including reducing soil erosion, transforming steep slopes into terraced backdrops, and establishing focal points in the landscape. Indeed, they are some of the most typical solutions to problems created by mountainous terrain! Retaining walls that are well-built convert inaccessible gradient into useful garden space. 


Despite their modest look, these walls require careful planning—and often professional engineering—to maintain their shape. Because soil is heavy, especially when moist from a recent downpour, a basic retaining wall (four feet height and 15 feet long) may have to withstand up to 20 tons of soil pressure. The pressure of the soil increases dramatically with each extra foot of height. Miscalculate your construction plans, and you risk having a weak wall that bulges or, worse, collapses entirely. For this reason, retaining walls taller than four feet should be designed and built by professionals. 



Shorter retaining walls, on the other hand, can be built by eager do-it-yourselfers with some basic construction experience. Does it describe you? If you want to get your hands dirty and improve your landscape with a retaining wall, these retaining wall building rules can help you get started. 


REMEMBER to check with the authorities. 

Because the effect of a retaining wall on the natural flow of water may affect your neighbors, several towns require homeowners to get a permit before work begins. To guarantee that erecting a retaining wall does not cause drainage issues, you may need to submit blueprints and schedule a land inspection. 



DO choose a material that is simple to work with. 

Retaining walls can be built from a range of materials, including poured concrete and huge timbers, natural stones, and even bricks. Choose premade blocks that are specifically designed for building retaining walls for DIY purposes; a locking flange along the bottom edge creates a secure attachment between rows. These blocks (available in gray and earthy tones with smooth or textured faces, as seen at The Home Depot) are available at almost any home improvement store and many garden centers. 


DO begin with a solid foundation. 

The strength of your retaining wall is determined by its support system. A trench filled with three inches of crushed rock will help keep a four-foot-high stacked-block retaining wall from shifting and settling. The actual depth of the trench is determined by the desired height of the wall, but use the following rule of thumb: Excavate a trench the length of the wall plus three inches. For example, if you want your retaining wall to be three feet (36 inches) tall when done, you'll need to dig the trench eight inches deep to accommodate three inches of crushed rock and around five inches (or an eighth of the visible retaining wall) to begin the wall below grade. 





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