Retaining walls are wonderfully versatile and can be used to achieve anything from a multi-level landscape to an organized and divided patio. They can be nestled into virtually any nook and cranny within a landscape, to serve as a barrier here and a seat wall over there. However, constructing a retaining wall that can withstand daily environmental wear and tear, as well as the loads to which it is subjected, is no small feat. Before you embark on having a retaining wall constructed on your Sunbury, OH, property, take the time to acquaint yourself with what could go wrong. This will help you to keep an eye out for potential pitfalls in the construction process and ensure a perfect finished product.

Passing on Permits

You will want to be sure you work only with reputable landscape contractors and not anyone who would be willing to cut corners and fail to obtain the proper permits to begin a particular project or fail to build a project to code. It is inexcusable to build structures like retaining walls with disregard to the regulations that are in place. Ensure that your contractor has taken all the necessary legal routes to embark on a by-the-book installation.

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A Weak Design

It’s possible to underestimate the significant force exerted by water-filled soil. Retaining walls tend to fail when they are built according to a design that does not take measures to combat the maximum hydrostatic pressure that may be exerted by the soil. Prevent this pitfall by only opting for a reliable landscape designer with a good track record and sufficient expertise.

Inadequate Drainage

Even the most practically designed retaining walls will fail without sufficient drainage to relieve the hydrostatic pressure in the soil. The standards for draining the soil around a retaining wall include a gravel shell, subsurface drainage, outlet points, and weep drains. The intervals at which weep drains are positioned need to be regular and small enough to prevent the formation of small pools of water and points of high pressure. Ensure that these standard requirements are met and consider opting for a segmented wall. Segmented walls are dry stacked and provide small gaps through which water may flow, optimizing drainage.

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Improper Footing

Without the right footing, which anchors and stabilizes a retaining wall, the wall may begin to lean over or bulge forward over time. Segmental walls require different footing to wooden walls or poured concrete walls, and it is imperative that your landscape contractor take the composition of your retaining wall into consideration when selecting its footing. Avoid issues relating to inappropriate footing by opting for a reliable contractor that possesses year of expertise building retaining walls very similar to yours.

Poor Handling of Materials

Inexperienced contractors or DIY-ers can easily condemn their retaining wall to failure if they lack the necessary skills in working with a particular material and all of its essential reinforcements. A segmental wall, for example, requires geogrid to keep it firmly attached to the earth. A stone wall requires a staggered, sloped arrangement that will withstand decades of wear and tear if executed correctly. You don’t want to waste the investment you are making in your landscape on a lack of experience. Opt for a landscape contractor with decades of experience building retaining walls of various types instead.

Image courtesy of Unilock.