For erosion control, terracing or to contour your landscape with an elevation change, a retaining wall can be both attractive and functional. There are plenty of choices of materials to suit your style: timber; interlocking blocks; stacked stone, brick or block; concrete or a combination.
Sure, retaining walls look like simple stacked stone, block, or timber. But in fact, they’re carefully engineered systems that wage an ongoing battle with gravity. They restrain tons of saturated soil that would otherwise slump and slide away from a foundation or damage the surrounding landscape. These handsome barriers also make inviting spots to sit, and can increase usable yard space by terracing sloped properties, something that is increasingly important as flat home sites become ever more scarce in many regions.
Along with sloped landscapes where water runoff causes hillside erosion, ideal locations for a retaining wall include spots downhill from soil fault lines and where the downhill side of a foundation is losing supporting soil or its uphill side is under pressure from sliding soil.
Although retaining walls are simple structures, a casual check around your neighborhood will reveal lots of existing walls that are bulging, cracked, or leaning. That’s because most residential retaining walls have poor drainage, and many aren’t built to handle the hillside they’re supposed to hold back.
Even small retaining walls have to contain enormous loads; a 4-foot-high, 15-foot-long wall could be holding back as much as 20 tons of saturated soil. Double the wall height to 8 feet, and you would need a wall that’s eight times stronger to do the same job. With forces like these in play, for an effective, long-lasting wall it’s a good idea to trust the job to a professional.
We are certified as wall builders through National Concrete Masonry Association and preferred contractors at Mutual Materials. We can help in all aspects of your wall-building project including design, grading, excavation, drainage and wall construction.
Frontier Landscaping installs retaining walls and other landscape features for properties around the Vancouver and Portland Metro area including all of Clark County, Washington.