What is a Retaining Wall?
Definition of Retaining Wall in Construction
Any wall or structure that holds back earth, stone, silt, etc. There are various types of retaining walls that are constructed of concrete, blocks, brick, stones, etc.
Any system that holds back the natural sliding of a material. The design of retaining walls is performed by the structural engineer on the project. Retaining walls are extremely important to the construction of projects, especially now that available sites are not as level and convenient for new construction. Construction projects are being placed on difficult sites due to space limitations, and many of these sites require sophisticated retaining walls to allow construction.
Retaining walls can be precast concrete blocks or shapes relying merely on gravity to structurally support the material being retained. Walls that only rely on the weight of the modular component are called gravity walls. Retaining walls can also be reinforced concrete retaining walls with integral footings, designed with a toe and heel , sized by the structural engineer.
In addition, retainage can be accomplished by wood lagging or simple railroad ties.
The retainage of site material to offer flat landscaping areas or to allow the lower level walkout convenience in a residential home is commonly performed by retaining walls.
Retaining walls must be designed to accommodate drainage behind them to reduce the amount of hydrostatic pressure that may build up behind the wall. The proper use of weeps, or piping to allow drainage, as well as porous fill, is extremely important to the structural capabilities of these types of walls. Professional excavators that are talented with their equipment are capable of constructing extremely strong and large retaining walls, with the stone on the site.
The stacking of large boulders will retain large volumes of material with natural drainage afforded by the placing of the stone. In many instances a great value engineering, site suggestion, is the use of site stone for the retaining walls. Architects and engineers prefer to design retaining walls with masonry materials or concrete that can be accurately engineered to ensure proper support and function.
The talents of a good backhoe operator, can simply stack up boulders, to accommodate these requirements. The hesitance of accepting such walls by engineers is due to the lack of definitive and analytical calculations for a stacked boulder wall. However the savings in cost is extreme, and in most cases, the aesthetics is much more acceptable, as the walls appear to be a natural occurrence and not a manmade creation.