How to build a Retaining Wall? Mortared wall vs dry stone wall

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retaining wall blocks

How to build a retaining wall? This is the question that requires to more about this before starting to build it. The reason for the construction of a retaining wall is usually a section with height differences. But even if you have a flat landscape, the retaining wall will make it more fantastic. The retaining wall is built not only of dry stone, so you can choose a material that is in harmony with the surrounding landscape and buildings.

Table of Contents

  1. How to make a retaining wall for soil on a slope
  2. How to calculate a retaining wall
  3. What the cost of the retaining wall
  4. What materials are used for retaining walls
  5. Retaining wall on the yard
  6. How to make a retaining wall
  7. Retaining wall design
  8. 7 ideas on how to make a retaining wall on a slope site
  9. Beautiful Hillside Garden: Retaining Wall Ideas
  10. Tasks and arrangement of retaining walls
  11. Gabion
  12. Retaining walls made of wooden sleepers
  13. Retaining walls made of stone
  14. Metal retaining walls
  15. Retaining walls made of profiled sheet
  16. Unshaped walls made of large stone boulders
  17. Concrete retaining walls
  18. Types of retaining walls
  19. In conclusion
  20. How many satchels do you need to destroy stone wall
  21. Video How to build a Retaining Wall

How to build a retaining wall for soil on a slope

If your home is on or near a slope, you will need to protect it from possible ground movements. For this, it is best to build a retaining wall. Such walls are also arranged on flat areas as a decorative element. Retaining walls can be built independently. About what kind of retaining walls there are, how to make them and what they are for, is described in the article.

How to calculate a retaining wall

In order for the wall to perform its functions correctly and reliably, it is necessary to carry out calculations.

Usually the walls are built about 1.5 meters in height.

The following parameters must be known for the construction of a retaining wall:

  • Construction weight.
  • The force of soil pressure that affects the future wall.
  • Traction force, friction force.
  • The weight of the possible load that will be on the retaining wall.

In addition to these basic parameters, you need to take into account the nuances that will affect the choice of material. These include the following parameters:

– Vibrations of the ground – taken into account if there is a road nearby, streets, or a railway.

– Ground water level.

– The depth of soil freezing.

– Seismic activity of the region.

What the cost of the retaining wall

The retaining wall cost depends only on the material you will choose. Cheaper material the cheapest will be the price. More expensive material the most expensive will be the cost of your retaining wall. The national average cost of the retaining wall is from $ 5,000. Typical range cost of the diy retaining wall is from $ 3,000. Low end cost is $1,200 and high end cost is $ 14,000.

What materials are used for retaining walls

To build a retaining wall, you can use wooden piles or boards, concrete structures, stone walls. Also, the retaining wall can be built from bricks or gabions.

The choice of material directly depends on the type of soil and its basic properties. It is important to take into account not only the depth of soil freezing and the level of groundwater, but also take measurements to determine the force of pressure, vibration and other parameters of the slope.

Retaining wall on the yard

The retaining wall on the site is universal, and primarily in terms of organizing and improving the site of difficult terrain. Retaining walls made of stone and gabions, from logs and boardboards, from concrete and compacted soil – there are many options – you can fix both an artificial slope and the area provided by the natural relief.

For owners of steep, complex and rugged reliefs, the topic of retaining walls and their arrangement with their own hands has always been and is relevant, but the options for the structures and designs of retaining walls are no less interesting for any other site, both for a compact country house and a spacious suburban property.

It is known that retaining walls and gabions are successfully used in order to develop complex, unsuitable for life and landscaping territories, but even on a completely flat and small courtyard of a summer cottage, decorative retaining walls are highly functional and interesting to many owners.

A retaining wall is a structure that ensures the impossibility of collapse of the soil behind it, regardless of the steepness of the slopes, the characteristics of the soil, as well as the hydrological features of the site.

Preventing soil creeping and / or collapse is a direct function of retaining walls. But, nevertheless, more and more often you can see terraced structures made of stone, soil, flower beds and so on in modern summer cottages, and even decorated with fountains and artificial waterfalls, ponds, stairs and all kinds of flower beds. At the same time, the relief of the landscape can be any – that is, the retaining walls also act as a decoration.

How to make a retaining wall

To build a retaining wall with your own hands – this business requires both knowledge and considerable labor costs. Material costs can be discussed only in a specific plan, based on the individual characteristics of the relief, the required dimensions and wall structures, as well as the available natural materials (rubble and stone, non-subsiding bulk materials, wood, the ability to prepare a high-quality concrete mixture on the site, and so on) Further).

When planning the size of the backwaters and choosing the material, they rely on the complexity of the relief, on the purpose of the retaining wall, but they also do not overlook the need for harmony of terraced or single supports with the general style of the landscape. Most difficult situations cannot be solved without a professional calculation and a project, and everything starts with a hydrogeological survey of the site. Having the results and the project, you can do simple work – earth, concrete, and so on – with your own hands.

It is possible to independently equip retaining walls from zero only in the presence of stable soils, a low level of passage or occurrence of groundwater (from 1.5 meters from the surface), as well as with a sufficient height of the above-ground parts of the retaining walls – no more than 1.25 m. Is also important is GPG (freezing depth) – if the soils freeze by 1.5 m or more, then it is impractical to undertake work without calculating the foundation of the SS (retaining wall).

High and complex in terms of PS will be subject to constant static and dynamic loads, there is a huge list of these efforts, not counting the nuances. The PS project requires a professional approach, and the risk in this case is an ignoble matter, because the site is being equipped for a safe life, work and rest for families and children.

Any substation consists of a foundation underground part, a body – or an aboveground vertical part, as well as very important structural elements of drainage and drainage. To determine the thickness of the SS body and the depth of the SS foundation, one can rely on data on the type of soil of the site. It is also important to determine the heights of the vertical parts of the SS. An approximate calculation of the thickness of the substation and the depth of its foundation support part:

For dense soils – not less than 0.25 of the height of the substation;

For medium-density soil, subject to bearing capacity – 0.30-0.35 of the height of the substation;

If the soil is soft, loose, unstable – at least 0.50 PS height.

The given data are purely reference, for a preliminary calculation of the need for materials and linking the PS to the design of the site. Accurate data are calculated, and solid foundation parts are necessary even for substations erected for the purpose of decoration – if these walls are planned to be made higher than 0.30 m.

A decorative low PS (20-30 cm) can be easily equipped without a foundation, if the structure is buried directly into the ground and installed on a compacted cushion of sand and gravel. But drainage must be provided in this case as well.

Whatever the characteristics and dimensions of the substation, water and moisture behind the wall will be collected continuously, and this can lead to the destruction of buildings as a result of constant waterlogging with stagnant water. Drainage and drainage measures are the initial stage of the CBC planning. Depending on the type of substation, drainage is arranged in a longitudinal or transverse type.

When installing a transverse drainage, pipes for the drain are used, laying them in pre-arranged holes (when concreting or laying, glands or embedded parts are needed). The holes are made across the wall, with a slope, a diameter of about 10-12 cm, a step of 1 meter.

Drainage backfill from the soil is obligatory: broken stone, crushed stone, ASG are poured onto the wall to quickly drain water from the base of the PS. For longitudinal drainage, you will need special perforated pipes with a length not less than the total length of the PS. A pipe (round or flat) is laid on a drainage layer of crushed stone with coarse sand. Water must be discharged behind the front of the retaining wall.

How to build a Retaining Wall

Retaining wall design

At first, it does not hurt to decide – what kind of retaining wall does the site need, decorative or utilitarian?

The decor is the only decoration, for the purpose of artistic expressiveness, decorative walls are made. But utilitarian retaining walls are equipped with the primary task of keeping the soil on a site or territory with difficult terrain, in order to make life and rest completely safe. And also with the aim of arranging luxurious conditions for the garden, vegetable garden and flower beds. Often all this is done with additional “options”:

– Divide with neighboring areas seriously and beautifully;

– Divide your own site (functional zoning);

– Increase the usable areas of suburban estates by using terracing.

But the main task when planning a substation is usually to ensure the convenience and safety of life on a site with difficult soil and relief conditions.

Some nuances of planning and construction of decorative and terrace retaining walls on the site:

– Foundations on loose soils are often equipped with pile foundations; on a stable, dense soil base, concrete screeds are possible to level the surface;

– At any height of the terraced substation, the height of each element ensures that the wall is above ground level;

– A visor or other protection for the top of the wall made of concrete and masonry is an excellent solution for protecting the structure from stormwater, extending the life of the wall;

– The slopes of the substation towards the slopes are made for high walls – from 0.75 m. The slope is up to 15%. PS up to 0.75 m high can be performed both with an inclination and vertical;

– Walls bordering lawns and lawns that provide for mowing grass, it is practical to do with a slight widening in the lower rows of masonry or with a concrete ledge to simplify lawn care;

– Smooth PSs look boring, but if you make a wall in the form of a broken line or with a curvature, then it is possible not only to decorate the design, but also to increase the stability and rigidity of the wall.

Further – about the types of retaining walls and the features of the arrangement of substations made of concrete, stone and wood, stone and block masonry.

7 ideas on how to make a retaining wall on a slope site

  1. Retaining wall made of concrete

One of the most durable materials for a retaining wall is concrete. In order to build a concrete wall on the site, the first step is to dig a ditch (0.3-1.15 m deep and 0.4-0.5 m wide), fill its bottom with crushed stone or gravel with a layer of no more than 20 cm Place the frame welded from iron rods into the ditch, then lay the formwork along the walls. For formwork, you can use thin sheets of plywood or wooden blocks.

Lay a drainage pipe across the formwork, and then fill everything with concrete. To make the wall look decorative, you can revert it with artificial stone or plant climbing plants next to it. Such a sturdy structure will serve you for a long time, since it is reinforced with reinforcement.

  1. Retaining wall made of stone

This option is within the power of even a novice builder. Dig a trench 0.5 m deep and 0.6 m wide, lay formwork from boards along the walls, lay a drainage system, fill with a mixture: 6 parts of gravel and sand for 1 part of concrete. After 4 days, apply a lime mortar to the structure and start laying the stones. Coat each row of laid stones with a thin layer of cement mortar.

Before you start laying stones, wash them in water.

Such a retaining wall looks natural and harmonious, perfectly fitting into the design of almost any area. For decoration, plant plants in the space between the stones.

  1. Retaining walls made of blocks

For this type of construction, both concrete foam blocks and FBS blocks (solid foundation block) are suitable. The width of the trench for building a block retaining wall must match the width of the block. At the bottom of the ditch, as in other cases, a gravel-sand cushion is poured with a layer of up to 20 cm. Then block stones are installed, which must be fastened with reinforcement. After installing the wall, its surface is revetted with decorative tiles or other elements.

  1. Mortared retaining wall

As with the construction of a retaining wall made of stone, a foundation must be laid to build a brick wall. Preference should be given to the most frost-resistant and moisture-resistant bricks.

The width of the low walls (up to 0.6 m high) can be half a brick, but it is optimal to make the higher walls the width of a brick.

Drainage pipes are placed every 5 bricks in the second row of masonry. The rows are coated with cement mortar, and the distance between the slope and the wall is covered with pebbles or rubble.

  1. Retaining wall made of wood

Pretreat logs with a diameter of up to 20 cm with an anti-decay agent. For vertical laying of logs, the foundation does not need to be poured, it is enough to dig a ditch with a depth of at least 0.5 m and install the logs in it close to each other.

To lay logs horizontally, first fill in gravel or crushed stone on the bottom of the dug trench, then lay the log and secure it with reinforcement. Subsequently, fasten each next log to the previous one with self-tapping screws or nails. In the space between the slope and the wall, you can plant flowers, having previously covered it with broken brick (for drainage), and then with soil.

  1. Dry stone retaining wall

A low stone wall (50-80 cm high) can be made without using mortar. In this case, dig a wide ditch 0.5 m deep and fill it halfway with gravel. Lay the washed stones in layers, filling the space between the rows with soil mixed with sand (or black soil). Maintain a slight incline towards the slope when laying.

Drainage is not needed for such a wall. Plants can be planted in the soil while the stones are being laid.

  1. Retaining wall made of gabions

Gabion is a voluminous mesh product filled with various materials. It is used to strengthen slopes, walls and river banks. The advantage of a gabion retaining wall is that for its construction you do not need to spend time on careful selection of stones and their neat laying, but you will have to purchase a mesh container.

Fill the gabion mesh with stones and attach the structure to a vertical flat surface. If you are building a low gabion wall (up to 1 m), then you do not need to lay the foundation. To save money, cover only the front of the gabion with decorative stone, and from the inside, fill the space between the wall and the slope with rubble or gravel.

Installing retaining walls makes the garden look stylish while maximizing the potential of the slope site.

Beautiful Hillside Garden: Retaining Wall Ideas

It is quite difficult to equip a beautiful garden on a plot with significant relief changes. The best option is to build retaining walls. This solution allows you to radically transform the appearance of the backyard area.

Tasks and arrangement of retaining walls

If the entire site is located on the slope of a ravine or hill, it will be quite difficult to rationally use all the available soil. In the process of cultivation, the land will gradually creep, which will only lead to an aggravation of the problem. Retaining walls must be equipped throughout the site in order to quickly and permanently solve this problem.

The territory must be divided into separate areas. Retaining walls will act as delimiting structures. The soil level on each individual segment should be leveled horizontally. Retaining walls will prevent soil from slipping during cultivation.

The plot will look like a ladder. Each zone, separated by walls, is a separate small garden or vegetable garden. Separate segments will look like steps included in the construction of a single large staircase. Each can be planted with different flowers and other plants, shrubs or trees.

There are many ways to construct retaining walls. The selected materials determine the durability, practicality and aesthetics of the design. The method allows not only to close the issue of soil erosion, but also to original zoning the site, and improve its appearance. You can create separate areas for recreation, growing flowers, crops, etc.

The creation of retaining walls will lead to a dramatic transformation of the appearance of the backyard area. Therefore, you should carefully choose materials and installation methods so that the site turns out to be beautiful and functional, corresponding to specific needs. There are a lot of ready-made solutions for the construction of retaining walls. After evaluating different ideas, you can choose the best option for your own preferences and financial capabilities.

how to build a retaining wall


Gabion is a three-dimensional structure with a mesh frame filled with stones. The strength of the structure is ensured by a mesh-like frame. Reliability and massive appearance are achieved by filling the structure with large stones. Different sizes of stones, pebbles and similar materials can be used. Gabion, wooden sleepers, stone.

Retaining walls made of wooden sleepers

Conventional wooden railroad ties can be used to construct retaining walls. Due to the special impregnation in the production process, the material has a long service life, does not deteriorate from moisture. There are even fireproof wooden sleepers. They can be used to construct retaining walls of almost any height. The products are mounted on top of each other using staples, nails or other suitable fasteners.

Retaining walls made of stone

A more complex method in terms of production. Such walls can vary significantly in design depending on the method of masonry, the size and shape of the stones used. The main difficulty is that it requires masonry skills to build. But, in terms of aesthetics, practicality and durability, this option is one of the best.

Metal retaining walls

Sheet steel is used as the main material for the structure. The material must have a fairly significant thickness, otherwise it may not withstand the load from a large amount of soil. To strengthen the structure, additional supports and stiffeners can be provided. To prolong the life of the metal, it should be treated with a suitable paint and varnish material. Metal, profiled sheet, large boulders.

Retaining walls made of profiled sheet

Due to the presence of ribs throughout the entire area, the profiled sheet can withstand a significant load, despite the relatively small thickness. In terms of reliability, such walls are not inferior to analogues made of stone and wood. They are distinguished by ease of installation. Zinc and polymer coatings provide corrosion protection.

Unshaped walls made of large stone boulders

The stylistic feature of such walls is the absence of a clear shape and a rigid frame. They are assembled from large boulders. Individual stones are placed directly on top of each other in 1-3 rows. The gaps between them can be filled with soil and rubble.

cheap retaining wall ideas

Concrete retaining walls

Concrete is one of the most durable and reliable materials. When erecting walls, you can give almost any shape. The disadvantage of this method is the high cost, since a lot of cement mortar will be required to fill a large area. In order to save money, the walls can be filled with stones, rubble, broken brick and similar materials. You can use ready-made concrete blocks that are mounted in the grooves of the support pillars.

Types of retaining walls

Wooden retaining wall:

A retaining wall made of wood is the most common. If the height difference does not exceed 1 m, then the logs should be 1.5 m each. That part of the log that will be in the ground must be soaked in special fluids that will protect them from getting wet and rotting. To install a wooden retaining wall, it is necessary to dig a trench 10 cm deeper than the length of the underground part of the log, and 20 cm wider than its diameter.

At the bottom of the trench, you need to put a sand pillow 15 centimeters wide. Tamp thoroughly. After that, put the logs in the dug ditch. To ensure the density of the wall, the logs can be tied with wire from above or nailed to each other. The back of the trench, where the tree touches the ground, is best paved with roofing material. When everything is ready, the trench is poured with concrete.

Concrete retaining wall:

Concrete walls are built on slopes with high soil pressure.

To install a concrete wall, it is necessary to dig a trench and install formwork so that the earth does not fall into the prepared trench, and only then fill up the sand and gravel. After laying the pillow, a reinforcing mesh is placed on top and concrete is poured.

We remove the formwork in 5-7 days. After that, you can give the wall an aesthetic look.

Dry stone retaining wall:

If you decide to build a retaining wall of stone, then its installation can be done both dry and using cement mortar. For a stone wall, granite, basalt or quartz are best. It is important to put a concrete foundation under it in order to protect it from subsidence.

To properly lay the stone wall, it is necessary to dig a ditch 10 cm wider than the width of the foundation. At the bottom, tampa sand and gravel cushion with a layer of 30 cm, and then pour concrete. The foundation must be 15 cm below ground level. When the solution hardens, you can start laying the stone. If you are laying the masonry using cement mortar, then it is better to treat all voids with grouting material. The stone wall has a stylish look.

Mortared retaining wall:

Before laying a brick wall, it is necessary to pour the foundation. It fully matches the foundation for the stone retaining wall. If the height of your wall is no more than 1 m, then the thickness should be 250 mm. But if the wall is small (about 0.5 m), then its thickness should be 120 mm.

Please note that when erecting a mortared retaining wall more than 1 m, its thickness must be at least 370 mm. This means that it is necessary to lay the wall in one and a half bricks.

Retaining walls made of gabions:

Gabion is a special metal container filled with stone. These walls are the easiest to install and are not expensive.

If the soil drop is not more than 1 m, then there is no need to build a foundation. If the height of the drop is higher than this value, then a strip foundation is placed under the gabion wall, similar to that used for masonry or brickwork.

After the completion of the construction of the foundation, gabions are laid on it, which are connected to each other with a wire. When the retaining wall is ready, its front side is covered with rubble or pebbles to give aesthetics.

In conclusion

The retaining wall is in the open air, which means it is exposed to atmospheric influences. It is very important to process the seams of the masonry so that the building will serve you as long as possible. Special compounds (sealants) will protect the support from deformation and destruction.

How many satchels do you need to destroy stone wall

For a big stone retaining wall, you will need only four satchel charges. But if your building consists not only of stone walls then you will need 10 stretches to destroy the foundation, windows, doors, floors etc.

Video How to Build a Retaining Wall

Date: 18.11.2021