The process of creating a well-balanced landscape is a combination between using the right kind of features, elements and materials. Retaining walls are specially-engineered to support backfill after any area is excavated to make space for outdoor features in a landscaped area. Natural stone, concrete units, as well as bricks could be used in retaining wall construction. These walls are very different from standard garden walls as their primary purpose is to improve the integrity and stability of the landscaping. However, practicality and beauty are not mutually exclusive. Aside from these functional purposes, retaining walls can be an attractive addition to your yard.
Professional Retaining Wall Installation
The first and most common are Gravity Retaining Walls. These walls are simply using the weight of the block to hold back the forces pushing on it. The larger the wall block, the larger the wall can be built without using reinforcement. Most have some mechanical method to set the proper batter (setback of each successive course), pins, grooves, clips, etc.
The second type is Engineered Retaining Walls. These are very similar to gravity walls in appearance but differ exponentially in strength. The difference lies in the reinforcement. These walls are designed by a civil engineer to determine the amount of reinforcement required. The reinforcement (commonly referred to as geo-grid) is (and this is taken directly from the manufacturer we use most frequently) “SRW Geogrid is composed of high-molecular weight, high-tenacity multi-filament polyester yarns that are woven into a stable network placed under tension and coated with PVC” (well I’m impressed).
There are many things that can go wrong with an engineered retaining wall installation. The most common we are aware of are:
- Not enough compaction of backfill material. (This should be done with proper compaction equipment, not a Harbor Freight tamper)
- Wrong selection of backfill material.
- Geo grid lengths being the wrong length.
- Improper orientation of the Geo-Grid. Most Geo-Grid is uniaxial and cannot be rotated sideways and maintain strength. It in essences becomes an awful lot of work for nothing if the grid is facing the wrong way. A dangerous situation for sure because it can give the appearance of a properly installed project. Even an inspector could not tell the difference.
- Geo grid inappropriately overlapping each other. Geo grid is required to be separated by 3 inches of material at minimum.
- Geo grid not pulled taut when backfilling, will not perform properly.
*Important Note* EVERY retaining wall over 4 feet tall requires engineering and a permit. This is true of EVERY township in Pennsylvania! It is a state law, not a municipal restriction. Terracing is usually not a legal and safe method around this! You cannot circumvent the law by creating two 3-foot-tall walls to eliminate one 6-foot-tall wall! These are not my opinions but are the law!
Buzzkill, right? Well, this is all we do, and we are here to walk you through the permitting and engineering process. It’s usually not very involved to do things properly, and I would caution against heeding advice from anyone looking to circumvent the laws and regulations. I certainly wouldn’t want to buy a truck from a ‘renegade’ truck manufacturer who believes safety rules are a racket, because I value my life and the lives of those around me. I have seen these walls fail time and time again. In fact, I was 30 seconds away from having a wall collapse on me! (It was a neighbor’s 6-foot-tall wall that landed where I was cutting grass 30 seconds prior). So, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, it can’t happen’ because I know it can!
Dirt collapses at 45 miles per hour. Could you imagine if someone was driving down a cul-de-sac that fast? Would you trust the neighborhood children could get out of the way safely? Retaining walls seldomly give warning of impending catastrophic failure. So proper installation methods are critical, no matter the size or scope of a retaining wall project.
-John A. Linder, Retaining Wall Enthusiast
High-Quality Retaining Walls Services
Walls signify strength, stability, and permanence. When we handle retaining wall installation, our hardworking team assesses the available space and determines precisely where to build these features. We use high-quality materials in retaining wall construction, and we guarantee that they will improve the appeal and stability of your landscape. We take great pride in our ability to create wall structures that can last a lifetime without suffering major damages or requiring a major repair or reconstruction effort.
If you want to get the services of well-experienced professionals, please call us today at 412-885-7049 or write through this Contact Us Form. We can guarantee you that everything will be made from the best materials so they will be long-lasting. Our skilled people will listen to your needs and create amenities based on your specifications.
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