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An overview of the different types of landscaping retaining walls

Retaining walls is basically a structure constructed in order to prevent erosion of soil from a landscape or a down slope. It is supposed to provide support to the landscape of the area for near vertical grade changes.  Although, retaining walls have scientific reasons to be used, they can also serve the aesthetic purpose. They are made from different materials like bricks, concrete, steel, stones or even timber.   
If used tactfully, a retaining wall can add beauty and character to the landscape. Retaining walls can create terraces on a sloped setting and provide your area a more usable space. Depending on the need, both scientific and aesthetic, retaining walls can be made in various patterns and types.
Different types of retaining walls
Depending on the principle used the standard classification of retaining walls is as follows.
Gravity walls
Generally made from stone concrete or heavy material like masonry units, these walls have a height of about 3-4 feet. The principle used here is that of earth’s gravity. Gravity walls resist the pressure of the soil against it by heavy mass of theirs. This is assisted by earth’s gravity because the walls are constructed with a batter. The batter of the setback  of the wall helps to provide the extra stability by leaning back into the retained soil. Battering also prolongs the life of the retaining wall and avoids the outward slanting.  A large volume of good quality heavy material is required to construct a gravity wall.

Cantilevered retaining wall

Cantilever walls were a quite popular choice for the taller design of retaining walls. Here the walls have a uniform thickness but hold a footing in the shape of an inverted T. This shape directs and converts the horizontal pressure of the sloped soil into the vertical pressure on the ground bellow. In order to enhance the stability of the wall in the case of a high resisting load the cantilever retaining walls are buttressed on the front, or a counterfort on the back side. These walls use fewer amounts of material  in comparison to the gravity walls. However, cantilever retaining walls need a sound footing of a rigid concrete below seasonal frost depth. 

Sheet Piling Retaining Walls


Tie back Anchored or geo technical retaining wall  

It is basically a procedure to ensure extra strength to the retaining wall. In this case, a strong cable or a rod is connected to the wall and anchored into the stone or the soil behind the wall. This is used by boring a hole into the soil and then inserting a cable. The anchor is next expanded inside the soil by mechanical means such as pressurized concrete.  

Concrete retaining walls    

To offer a good support to vertically slanted landscapes. These are very common in gardens and other outdoor settings.  Concrete retaining walls have heavier soil underneath and hence can be high built too. They are very resilient to climate and provide a good long standing support, as these walls are strong and do not face problems like blowing or cracking.

Counterfort Retaining Walls

These are made like the cantilever retaining walls only; but have the extra strength provided by the triangular structure by joining the top of the wall with the back footer. This is done by rods of reinforced steel. This obviously extends the durability and resistance of the cantilever retaining walls.

Any of the above mentioned retaining wall types can be used in the designing of your landscape. Incorporating them with textured bricks and patterns create a beauty and add value to the surrounding space.

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