Installing Segmental Retaining Walls

Segmental Retaining Walls are Ideal for Building Higher and Steeper Walls

By Mark J. Donovan

As with any type of retaining wall, segmental retaining walls are vertical walls that are used to hold back soil and create two level areas. A segmental retaining wall is a type of retaining wall that is built with modular interlocking blocks and lateral tie back systems. The interlocking retaining wall blocks and tie back systems interconnect with each other to create an extremely strong retaining wall. Due to their unique construction, segmental retaining walls can support higher and steeper walls that are not usually capable with traditional retaining wall designs and products.

The two major components of a segmental retaining wall are the facing system, usually modular concrete blocks, and the tieback system, typically constructed using geogrids.

Geogrids are rigid mesh type polymeric materials that are regularly used for structural reinforcements of soils, steep slopes and retaining walls.

With segmental retaining walls, the geogrids are buried in the backfilled soil area behind the segmental retaining wall to act as the tieback system. They are interlocked with the modular concrete blocks to help prevent any lateral movement of the retaining wall. It is the tieback system of the segmental retaining wall that helps make it so strong and thus allows higher retaining wall heights to be constructed.

Due to the variety of modular concrete block types available, segmental retaining walls can be constructed in a wide variety of colors and textures.

Segmental retaining walls also need not be limited to straight walls. Due to the wide variety of modular concrete block shapes and sizes, segmental retaining walls can include curved lines, steps and corners.

As with any retaining wall installation project, it is imperative to have a strong, level and stable base for resting the concrete modular retaining wall blocks on.

Consequently it is imperative to dig a deep trench for the retaining wall and to fill it with compacted angular-shaped crushed stone.

In addition, it is also wise to pour more crushed stone and lay perforated PVC pipe behind the lower portion of the segmental retaining wall to help with drainage. Finally, including landscaping fabric behind the retaining wall will help to prevent the weeping of any soil through to the front of the retaining wall.

So if you have a yard with naturally sloped soil grades, and want to terrace off sections of it for decks and patios, or for creating level backyard playing fields, or even for driveway and garage entrances, you may want to take a close look at segmental retaining wall solutions.

Building a retaining wall.

They look beautiful, are extremely strong, and will hold up incredibly well.

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