Retaining Walls

Retaining Wall Construction Company North VA, MD, Washington DC

A retaining wall is a structure that holds back soil or rock from a building, structure or area. Retaining walls prevent downslope movement or erosion and provide support for vertical or near-vertical grade changes. Cofferdams and bulkheads, structures that hold back water, are sometimes also considered retaining walls. Retaining walls are generally made of masonry, stone, brick, concrete, vinyl, steel or timber. Once popular as an inexpensive retaining material, railroad ties have fallen out of favor due to environmental concerns. They also decompose over time.

Segmental retaining walls have gained favor over poured-in-place concrete walls or treated-timber walls. They are more economical, easier to install and more environmentally sound.

The most important consideration in proper design and installation of retaining walls is that the retained material is attempting to move forward and downslope due to gravity. This creates a lateral earth pressure behind the wall which depends on the angle of internal friction (phi) and the cohesive strength (c) of the retained material, as well as the direction and magnitude of movement the retaining structure undergoes. Lateral earth pressures are typically smallest at the top of the wall and increase toward the bottom. Earth pressures will push the wall forward or overturn it if not properly addressed. Also, any groundwater behind the wall that is not dissipated by a drainage system causes an additional horizontal hydraulic pressure on the wall.

 Stone Patios VA creates walls with many different looks using many different products. In the photos to the right you can see “dry stack” retaining walls that use natural stone of different sizes and shapes as well as the newer mortar less block retaining walls and the more traditional block and brick walls that create a gated entrance.

If you’re wondering what direction you should go in creating a wall please call or email us and we’ll be happy to come take a look at your property and give you ideas and prices.


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