Segmental Retaining Walls-Not for Beginners

8" segmental retaining wall block walls

A set of tiered retaining walls with landscape beds behind them

Segmental Retaining Walls (SRW’s) are concrete block retaining walls that use a complicated system of gravity, wall setback, geogrid, proper drainage, compacted base gravel foundation, and other factors to complete a structurally sound, efficient and very appealing retaining wall for commercial or residential purposes.

These walls are difficult to build, requiring lots of labor, lots of equipment, and lots of knowledge to properly build one. Trusting your property to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge, and any combination of the other things can put your investment and property at risk. These walls are quite expensive to build, and if one of them comes down due to improper construction, it could cost you twice as much to have it cleaned up and rebuilt.

 

Small Retaining Wall Block, Too small for the job

This pile of small landscaping blocks is all that’s left of an 8′ tall retaining wall a contractor “thought” he was going to build with them. Needless to say, the wall didn’t survive, it never even made it to completion before it fell

SRW’s are on the average more expensive than a poured concrete wall, that has not been faced with brick or stone but have a much better appearance, having several textures and colors available.

Most of the time, they are built with no concrete foundation, using a compacted base gravel instead, this allows the foundation and the block to move slightly with any frost heaves or movement from hydraulic pressure from ground water. Most poured retaining walls will crack at some point, SRW’s will not crack since they are not mortared together.

Retaining walls can make use of previously unusable land you may have on your property. They can take a steep slope and turn it into several level areas that can then be used for landscape beds, turfgrass, or flower beds. They will add value to your property, in some cases partially or completely paying for themselves in increased property value.

These structural walls can be built at the shore level on most lake properties as a sea wall alleviating erosion and gaining usable land behind the wall once it is backfilled. They can be built virtually unlimited in height, with the right conditions and materials.

Sea Wall on Kentucky Lake

This wall we built on Kentucky Lake to level this property, gain usable land and allow the summer water level to splash against the wall.

LawnMasters Lawn and Landscape has been building these walls for 26 years, we have the experience, knowledge and equipment to build any type of SRW on your property, commercial or residential.

If you need an estimate or a second opinion on how to construct a wall on your property or what type of wall to construct, we are happy to assist. Just contact us and we will take a look and give you a free lawn and landscape analysis for your needs.

Lots of homeowners and quite a few contractors think that any block that you can stack up that has a lip or another method of creating “set back” can be used to easily build a wall. After all, all you do is stack them up, right? Nope….. This is where the situation starts going bad.

Having the knowledge of which block should be used, what type of base foundation, how many feet of geogrid for stablilization, and how many layers of it, how much drainage gravel, etc. all combine to equal what it takes to be able to build a wall properly. This post is primarily a warning to property owners to ask questions of the person or Company that is giving you a retaining wall estimate or proposal.

Things to ask:

  • How long have you been building SRW’s
  • Where are some you can go look at
  • What type/size block would you recommend for this job
  • How much Geogrid will be used
  • Explain how you will address the drainage issues around the retaining wall
  • What will be done at the finish grade to address drainage on top of the wall, to prevent water from running over and down the face of the wall
  • Does your price include excavation and removal of spill
  • Will you provide a stamped engineered drawing of the project
  • What is your warranty for the wall

These are all items that you should ask and get an answer for, that you understand. A structural retaining wall is as important as the foundation under your house and should be given the same professional attention.

Do you have retaining wall questions or issues? Contact us at 888.664.LAWN or email us here EMAIL US