I have fence company installing a retaining wall 2' tall and a fence.
They have done retaining walls before and seem to know what they are
doing, but they are setting the prefab stones at ground level (they
flattened and leveled even with sidewalk) with crushed rock on top
rather than dig down 3" + gravel as per the instructions of
mutualmaterial.com states for manorstones. When questioned, owner
said they will put dirt in front (wall inset from sidewalk a foot).
They just finished first day and got ground level and just started
putting blocks in. Quick recommendation/help appreciated.
This is NOT a retaining wall.
A true retaining wall -- engineered to hold back a slope -- has a
below-ground concrete footing wider than the wall. The depth of
the footing is proportional to the height of the wall. The wall
itself needs steel rods that extend into the footing (placed before
the footing concrete is poured), surrounded within the wall's
vertical channels with more concrete. Where appreciable force from
the slope is expected, horizontal steel rods within the footings
and the wall itself might also be required. This use of steel and
concrete is dictated by the force of the slope behind the wall, and
not by the wall's height; that is, even a low retaining wall
Perhaps you are getting a slough wall, which does not support a
slope. A slough wall merely prevents loose dirt and other material
-- slough (pronounced "sluff") -- from trickling or eroding down
the slope. I have a slough wall at the base of the hill in my back
yard. The toe of the slope is at the bottom of the wall, not near
the top. The slope was engineered (benched and compacted) so that
no retaining wall would be needed.
You can read about my hill and slough wall at
yeah. sounds like bs.
even if not a true retaining wall, i think it needs to extend below grade
to firm earth (under the base rock), else will sink irregularly.
some more web info:
In any case, it is sufficiently steep that I only climb it when truly
necessary. Several times, I have fallen on it, wrenching various parts of
my anatomy. Once I actually fell off it, tumbling over the slough wall at
ow. maybe a mass of shrubs are needed to catch hurtling bodies. :-)
When the rain fell, it ran right through the cracks and lubricated the
boundary between the surface and subsoil. The surface (partially pulled by
iceplant that suddenly became waterlogged) slid down the slope, failing to
a depth of about two feet. Thus, everything on My Hill was planted since
the spring of 1993, when the repairs were completed (at a cost almost
equal to what I paid for my house approximately 20 years earlier).
Although the plants on My Hill are somewhat drought-tolerant, I now keep
the soil moist; I water My Hill heavily every other week, allowing only
the top few inches to dry.
it sounds like maybe there could also be an unmixed boundary between
that page has good real world experience/info.
I would say that it all depends on where you live. If you are in a warm
climate without any problems with frost heaving, then it probably won't be a
problem. If you are in a cold climate, you may find that the wall will
shift after several freeze thaw cycles. In any event, I would expect the
materials to be used as specified by the manufacturer. I have an Allen
Block wall that was constructed on a 12 inch bed of crushed, compacted stone
with geo-grid placed between every two courses. There is no poured footer or
steel rods and it seems quite stable. In my opinion it is a retaining wall
but I won't argue with an engineer over the definition.
Well, a REAL retaining was is not much different from a dam, except
that it is holding back earth, and during rains,may also be holding
back water. All of which which is exerting force in a horizontal
direction. That is, if the wall holds. it is an engineering issue.
Don't you need approved drawings, plans, from some local building
department? You seem to have no below-grade footings!
In some jurisdictions, a 2' retaining wall requires a permit, which
means plans drawn by a professional engineer. At the same time, a
5' slough wall requires no permit.
The difference is that a RETAINING wall must indeed retain the
slope against which it is built while a slough wall is a
free-standing wall against which LOOSE dirt might accumulate AFTER
construction. The permit process might involve inspections by both
the government agency that issues the permit and the engineer who
drew the plans. The purpose is NOT bureaucracy for its own sake;
the purpose is to ensure that the wall is built safely (e.g., that
it will not fail and dump a mudslide into someone's home).
As I tried to indicate earlier in this thread, if the person
starting the thread is not really trying to support the slope, then
he does not need a retaining wall. Instead, he might merely need a
The wall is indeed intended retain the dirt behind it. Actually, the
area is 8' wide. At one end it is just over 2' tall, comes out 2 feet
or so, then slopes down to bottom. We put in the wall, which mean
digging into the hill/slope. The wall was constructed of manorstone
(60lb blocks), 2' high. It had crushed rock (2-3") underneath and
backfilled with same rock. Now completed, the ground is near flat
behind it. We set the fence 5 inch back from the inner edge of wall,
which was RIGHT where the electrical lines ran...didn't want to take a
chance. All in all, looks great. (still would have been happier if
first layer had been partially burried though).
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