Retaining Wall Ideas

Retaining Wall Ideas – In a landscape with problems such as erosion, retaining walls are practical and beautiful elements to include on it. They can help to battle gravity and offer unique planting opportunities as well. A retaining wall can also be a perfect DIY project for various skill levels. We have rounded several retaining wall ideas to decorate and build your landscape.

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What is a Retaining Wall?

Before we go further, what is a Retaining wall? It is actually rigid walls used to support soil laterally to retain it at different levels on the two sides. They are structures designed to restrain soil to a slope such as steep, near-vertical, or vertical slope. Retaining walls are often constructed using various materials, including concrete, stone, and timber.

In recent years, H-beam steel has become a popular material for retaining walls due to its durability and strength. H beam steel is made of high-quality steel, and its shape allows it to support heavy loads without bending or warping. They are used to bind two uneven soils, often in areas of terrain with unwanted slopes or in areas where the landscape needs to be designed severely and engineered for more specific purposes like hillside farming or driveway overpasses.

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What are the Four Types of Retaining Walls?

There are four basic types of retaining walls: gravity retaining walls, cantilevered retaining walls, sheet piling retaining walls, and anchored retaining walls.

1. Gravity Wall

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Using sheer weight and mass to hold the soil at bay, a gravity retaining wall is the list’s most common retaining wall type. Because it’s mostly about weight, it has the widest variety regarding materials. Out of all materials available, the dry-stacked stone is a very popular choice. Excluding the shorter walls, most of this wall type will require at least a small trench to be dug for the wall to fit into, and some even require a concrete footer to sit on. You might even consider concrete sleepers Melbourne for this type of wall.

2. Cantilevered wall

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A cantilevered retaining wall is a reinforced retaining wall from the steel bars running through the concrete, sometimes called a masonry retaining wall. These walls use a retaining wall affixed to a slab foundation that goes under the soil with support of an “L” shape. The weight of the above soil helps to hold the slab down so that the wall cannot tip forward. This wall style is favored for its strength.

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3. Sheet Piling Wall

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A sheet pile retaining wall is usually a thin wall of steel that interlock with each other.  Even though wood, vinyl, or reinforced concrete can also be used, steel is commonly used to withstand large bending forces and pressure.

Sheet pile walls bring structural resistance by utilizing the full section. They form a wall for permanent or temporary earth support and anchors for extra lateral support when set together.

Steel sheet pile walls are most frequently used in deep excavations, although reinforced concrete sheet piles have been used successfully in some cases.

Sheet pile wall disadvantages are:
1. It is rarely used as part of the permanent structure.
2. Installation of sheet piles is challenging in soils with boulders or cobbles. In such cases, the desired wall depths may be challenging to reach. 
3. Excavation forms and shapes are strongly dictated by the sheet pile section and interlocking elements.
4. Sheet pile driving may cause loud noise.

4. Anchored Type Wall

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Anchored retaining wall type is used when bulk excavation for traditional geogrid reinforced segmental walls is not possible or impractical.

This will use anchors driven into the earth behind them and attached by cables or strips. These anchors are mechanically driven into the earth, and their ends are extended by injecting pressurized concrete or mechanical means. Basically, the ground anchors are driven back into the residual soil to the required depth. All earth anchors must be proof tested up to 90% of yield strength. Working loads are typically between 50% and 90% of the proof test value.

The method supports any of the above options and is usually used for structurally thinner walls or where higher loads are expected.

In terms of materials, there at least 4 basic types of materials available, they are concrete, stone, brick, and wood materials.

What is the Cheapest Retaining Wall to Build?

Retaining wall materials may vary in price from relatively cheap to very expensive. In choosing the right one, you must be sure about the wall type you want and the budget plan. Keep in mind that choosing the cheapest retaining wall material may not be beneficial in the long run, as the materials might be rotten or broken. For example, Treated pine and hardwood won’t last as long as concrete blocks or natural stone. 

When planning to have a retaining wall for a long time, you must answer these questions: Why do you choose the cheapest retaining wall material, or would more expensive materials flatter your property? If a retaining wall is professionally installed, the average cost (per square meter) would be:

  • $250 to $450 for wood materials (treated pine or hardwood timber is considered the cheapest retaining wall to build)
  • $300 to $500 for sandstone wall blocks
  • $400 to $680 for reinforced concrete wall blocks
  • $550 to $750 for concrete wall blocks

The price variation will depend on the complexity of the job. The installation will cost less if it’s a flat surface and nothing needs to be removed. If the surface is uneven or blocks of stone need to be removed, the cost will be higher.

What is the Easiest DIY Retaining Wall?

A timber retaining wall may be the best choice if you’re looking for the easiest DIY retaining wall option. Not only is it a budget-friendly option, but it’s also easy to construct and requires minimal effort.
One of the main advantages of using timber for your retaining wall project is its versatility. Timber can be easily cut and shaped according to your desired specifications, making it an ideal material for creating unique and customized designs. Additionally, timber walls can blend seamlessly into any landscape design style – from rustic country gardens to modern urban spaces.

Steep Hillside Landscaping Ideas

easy retaining wall
Photo by Natalie DeNormandie

If you do the building carefully, a retaining wall can turn unused hillside steep slopes into living space.

Even though retaining walls are simple structures, sometimes mistakes are made that cause damage to the walls themselves. Most retaining walls have poor drainage, and many are poorly built to handle the hillside they should hold back.

Retaining Wall Ideas for Sloped Backyard

how to build a retaining wall on a hill
wood retaining wall ideas for sloped backyard

Retaining walls are essential for keeping soil in place and preventing erosion in sloped backyards. A wood retaining wall is a great option to add charm and warmth to your outdoor space while providing stability. It is also eco-friendly, easy to work with, and affordable.

Front Yard Retaining Wall Ideas

how to build a small retaining wall

Everybody wants to make their home and garden better and more appealing. Besides these cosmetic purposes, the homeowner must protect their land from erosion and other possible damage, mainly when dealing with spring downpours and harsh winters.

Natural Rock Retaining Wall Ideas

how to build a retaining wall on a slope

The dry stack method is one of the most popular natural rock retaining wall designs. This technique involves stacking rocks without using mortar or cement as a binding agent. The stones are carefully selected based on their size, shape, and color to create an aesthetically pleasing pattern that also provides stability to the wall. Dry stack retaining walls work well in gardens with sloping terrain or uneven surfaces since they can be adapted to fit any shape or size.

How to Build a Small Retaining Wall

How to Build a Small Retaining Wall – Building a simple retaining wall is pretty easy as it is available at most home stores.

The hardest part may be lifting the blocks from the shelf at the store, getting them to your vehicle, taking them out of your vehicle, and putting them into a comfortable, accessible place to begin work.

Cheap Retaining Wall Ideas

how to build a tall retaining wall
inexpensive cheap retaining wall ideas

Wood material makes a cheap retaining wall. You can set vertical ones first into the ground to act as supports and then stack the other timber horizontally behind them. But, again, wood isn’t a material that will last a lifetime.
Another option is wall blocks that look much better and last longer but are more expensive.

Driveway Retaining Wall Ideas

retaining wall construction
driveway culvert retaining wall ideas

One popular idea for a driveway culvert retaining wall is to use natural stone, which provides a more rustic look and can be arranged in various patterns for added visual interest.

Wood Retaining Wall Ideas

Wood Retaining Wall Cost
wood retaining wall ideas for sloped backyard

If you’re looking for a way to add character and functionality to your sloped backyard, you might want to consider installing a wood retaining wall. Not only will it help prevent soil erosion, but it can also provide a distinct aesthetic that complements your outdoor space.

The wood material is easy to find as it is literally everywhere. Moreover, it is easy to install compared to other materials. Despite all of these perks, unlike other materials, wood doesn’t last long as it may rot.

One of the strengths of wood is its design. A wood retaining wall can easily blend with nature and can relate to almost any style.

Even though it may rot, if installed with suitable material, waterproofing, and preservatives, it can stand for 20 years or more.       

Concrete Wall Ideas

best wood for retaining wall
poured concrete retaining wall ideas

Concrete Retaining Wall Ideas – Concrete retaining wall is divided into two significant options the block type and poured concrete type. The first type is an easier project to do than the poured concrete type. While poured concrete retaining wall is an easy choice when you want a stronger wall type, even though it may crack.

How to Build a Brick Retaining Wall

Brick retaining wall is known for their durability and strength. Although the installation may not be easy, the result is astonishing. It suits well for traditional style homes and landscapes. 

Railroad Tie Retaining Wall

cheap strong retaining wall
railroad ties retaining wall

Retaining walls with railroad ties is one of the most beautiful improvements anybody can make to their sloped landscape

Besides retaining walls, railroad ties are used for various home landscaping techniques, for example, building a walkway or framing a garden.

Railroad tie retaining wall costs are reasonably priced and inexpensive; if the wood is treated with some chemicals, it may have long-term durability. The mainly complicated feature of working with railroad ties is none but their heavy weight. Railroad ties are extremely weighty and difficult to be moved simply. Yet, the building process is not that hard. Once the ground is prepared, the process of building a railroad tie retaining wall is very straightforward. It is labor intensive, so it takes a lot of time. Paying attention to the process is the key to ensuring the wall remains standing for many years.

Other Retaining Wall Ideas

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