Different types of retaining wall are built in various locations depending on a variety of factors such as the material to be used, the type of soil, the slope of the hillside, local building codes, and the topography of the site.

What is Retaining Wall?

Retaining walls are rigid wall constructions that help to hold soil laterally in order to keep the ground surface at different elevations on either side of the structure. If there is no retaining wall support, the soil at a higher elevation will tend to move downward until it reaches its natural, stable form. 

Retaining walls are built using a variety of materials, such as concrete blocks, concrete, treated timber, boulders, and rocks.

The function of a retaining wall is as follows:

  • This wall prevents soil or other material from being moved with elevation changes. 
  • Earth retaining structures are used to keep the earth in place and preserve the difference in ground surface height.
  • Retaining structures are built to withstand the soil or backfill, while other external loads are securely transmitted to the foundation.

Types of Retaining Wall

There are several different types of retaining wall that may be built to maintain soil in a safe state.

  • Anchored Earth Retaining Wall
  • Buttress Retaining Wall
  • Cantilever Retaining Wall
  • Counterfort Retaining Wall
  • Gabion Retaining Wall
  • Gravity Retaining Wall
  • Sheet Pile Retaining Wall

Anchored Earth Retaining Wall

Anchored earth retaining wall

These types of retaining wall are supported by a row or two of ties or struts towards the top and are fixed at the base.

Buttress Retaining Wall

Buttress retaining wall

A buttress wall is a type of counterfort wall. These types of retaining wall are constructed on the face of the wall rather than within the backfill. Buttress walls are rarely used since their exposed buttressed design consumes space and detracts from their look.

Cantilever Retaining Wall

Cantilever retaining wall

For retaining walls up to 7 meters high, reinforced concrete cantilever types are preferred. A vertical stem monolithic with a base characterizes this type of wall. 

The tensile stresses within the stem and base are resisted by steel reinforcement in this retaining wall, which can employ a slender section. 

If the wall’s slope is exposed, a 1 in 50 backward batter is provided to compensate for any forward tilting of the wall.

Counterfort Retaining Wall

Counterfort retaining wall

For heights of more than 6 m, counterfort retaining walls are employed. Its stem provides a slab that spans between the counterfort supports. The distance between the supports should be around 2/3 H but no less than 2.5 m.

Gabion Retaining Wall

Gabion retaining wall

These types of retaining wall are constructed of rectangular metal cages or baskets. A gabion wall is built of a square grid of steel material that is 5 mm in diameter and 75 mm apart. 

Gabion baskets are typically 2 m long and 1 m in cross-section. Every basket has a middle diaphragm that splits it into two equal 1 m x 1 m portions and provides stability. 

Stone-filled baskets are fastened together with steel wire 2.5 mm in diameter throughout the manufacturing process. The gabion wall has a base width of around 0.5H. Each successive layer can be slightly stepped back to create a good-looking visage.

Gravity Retaining Wall

Gravity Retaining Wall

The weight of the gravity-retaining wall ensures its stability. These walls are primarily designed to eliminate the lateral earth pressure overturning effect and do not create tensile stresses within the portion. 

Gravity retaining walls are best for low heights and are not cost-effective for high heights. Stone, bricks, mass concrete, and precast concrete blocks can all be used to create it. 

It has a trapezoidal section with a base width of 0.3 to 0.5 H, where H is the wall’s height, and a top width of 0.2m to 0.3m. 

A top width of 0.3 m is suggested for appropriate concrete placement while building a concrete gravity retaining wall.

Sheet Pile Retaining Wall

Sheet Pile Retaining Wall

Sheet pile retaining walls are built by driving a sequence of interconnected piles into the foundation soil. Usually, steel, wood, or precast concrete sections are used to construct modern sheet piles. 

Cantilever sheet pile walls are sometimes held in place by active and passive pressures acting on their lower portion.

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Benefits of a Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall Controls Flooding

Flooding can occur due to heavy rainfall, causing extensive property damage. In flood-prone areas, retaining walls not only keep soil in place but also prevent floods and erosion during heavy rains.

Retaining Walls Aid in the Diversion and Utilization of Rainwater

By using an inventive design in building a brick retaining wall, rainwater may be diverted and used for greater purposes in your home gardens and grass turf. A retaining wall may be used to direct rainwater into a collecting system, which can then be used to water your grass and plants.

Retaining Wall Helps in Reshaping Slopes

Raising retaining walls might help you create the design you want when the natural contours of your yard do not seem quite right. Such walls enhance the visual attractiveness of the structure and its surroundings. You may be able to move around backfill, change slopes, and contour your land by hiring a professional retaining wall builder.

Retaining Wall Acts as a Natural Décor

You can construct a retaining wall as part of your patio or barbeque pit area if the natural slope is on your property or close to your home. A well-designed brick retaining wall may double as a plant shelf and a storage area for picnic supplies or yard sports. If desired, outdoor lights can be integrated into or near the retaining wall if integrated. This will also beautify the area.

Retaining Wall can Enhance Your Home Value

When considering purchasing a property, the outside of the house and its surroundings are generally the first things that potential buyers consider. Retaining walls are an asset to your property, adding both monetary and aesthetic purposes. If you want to sell your home in the future, your investment in retaining walls will almost certainly pay for itself.

Retaining Wall Prevents Erosion

The most essential benefit of a retaining wall is that it prevents soil erosion. You may be experiencing runoff issues if your property has a sloping area. Erosion can be greatly reduced by raising a retaining wall. You may create level surfaces on inclined planes by using a retaining wall near a border or slope. Soil erosion is therefore prevented on the downward incline. If they are just adjacent to the structure, retaining walls also secure it.

Retaining Wall Helps to Resist Gravity Load

If your property is in a location where the lateral pressure of a slope is imposing undue stress in another area, to counteract gravity and avoid landslides and erosion, you may consider installing a retaining wall.

Retaining Wall Protects the Nearby Structures

If a structure or house is built on a lower platform than the surrounding ground, soil from the higher raised area may collapse or slide down slowly onto the building, causing damage or structural problems. You may keep back this higher level of ground and safeguard the existing structure or building by constructing a retaining wall.

Similarly, if your home is built on a higher platform than the adjacent ground, which is comparably lower, or if it is built on the bank of a natural water source, soil erosion caused by rain, floods, or even earthquakes will cause the soil to slide (sometimes suddenly). Such occurrences might sometimes result in a home collapse. This is because the foundation will become exposed, causing the soil on which it stands to lessen its support. We can’t always stop nature from taking its course, but we can certainly plan for it. As a result, a well-designed retaining wall will serve to safeguard your home in such situations.