Retaining walls can be an integral part of ensuring the safety, longevity, and functionality of your Laguna Beach, CA, property’s landscape design. You want it to be a noteworthy hardscape feature but you also want it to last. Investing in masonry expertise can further add to the homeowners’ expectation that the walls will be built to the highest standards and will serve their needs without problems for years to come.
Choosing the Type of Wall
The choices you make regarding the design of the retaining wall will determine its durability, as well as the cost involved in its construction. Considerable thought needs to be put into the ideal type of retaining wall that suits a particular application. For low loading applications, gravity walls can often prove sufficient, where the weight of the wall is used to hold back the soil.
However, for applications where the weight of the retained soil becomes significant, a cantilever retaining wall could be a more efficient option. A cantilever retaining wall has a broader base, part of which is embedded beneath the retained soil. The weight of the retained soil over the base helps to hold the wall in place.
Ensuring a Sturdy Foundation
The durability of your retaining wall depends on a sturdy foundation. The depth of the base trench is an important consideration, especially for taller walls wherecaba the forces at play are amplified. There is no fixed rule of thumb for determining the ideal depth for the base trench. The answer depends on the height of the wall as well as the quality of the soil, the design of the wall, and the weight of the retained soil. These are all reasons why the experience of a landscape contractor can be a good determinant of the durability of the final product.
Once a depth has been determined and the base trench excavated comes the important task of compacting and flattening the underlying soil. This ensures the wall has a solid base and will not sag over the years of use.
Choosing Materials and Design Practices
Complementing a strong base with equally strong wall blocks is also important for durability. This process requires the input of the property owners, contractors, and the designer to ensure that the retaining wall achieves the right combination of strength and aesthetics. Concrete blocks are generally the ideal material, and they are available in a wide range of designs. For larger walls, holding the blocks together with mortar and even a rebar mesh can keep the structure strong.
Utilizing geogrids is becoming an increasingly common practice. Geogrids are a strong composite mesh that helps to spread out the weight of the wall over the base and prevents sagging. Multiple geogrid layers are installed between the layers of blocks and extended back into the backfill soil to reinforce large walls.
Ensuring Adequate Drainage
One of the major reasons for retaining walls failing over time is poor drainage. Water buildup in the retained soil can increase the forces experienced by the wall and even cause it to fail. At the very least, weep holes installed into the wall face are essential drainage measures for allowing water to seep out from the backfill.