Are you considering building a retaining wall for either practical or aesthetic use (or both)? You must follow the appropriate steps to ensure your project is constructed safely and achieves its purpose.
It is always best to check the building codes in your area, as the height of the wall can dictate whether you need a building permit. Most retaining walls over four feet do require one. Even if your wall is under four feet, it is still a good rule of thumb to confirm codes and notify utility companies, as they may need to mark where underground wires are located.
Once you have taken these steps, it is time to measure and lay out your space and start building your retaining wall.
Step 1: Excavate and Level
Whether you have decided to use a cut or infill retention solution, you must prepare the subgrade soils.
These soils offer support for your wall, making it crucial that you remove any weak or easily compressed soils. If any soil does require excavation, you must replace it with a compact fill. Next, make sure the ground is shaped and tested for stability.
Step 2: Install a Layer of Erosion Control – Landscape Fabric
The next step is installing an erosion control product. For an easy-to-install solution, consider non-woven geotextile for filtration and drainage. It is an affordable solution that does not require additional products, such as drain tiles, to function.
The material is strong, built to withstand several pounds of pressure over time, and made from industrial-strength polypropylene. This material is durable and commonly utilized in a variety of construction projects.
To install, spread the fabric to each end of your work area, ensuring it is tight and leaving little to no air gaps. Place a granular base material on top and compact it using a hand tamper, compactor with a vibrating plate, or other method.
Note: Do not skip this step, as proper drainage is crucial for strengthening the integrity of your retaining wall while preventing water from back-flowing and causing issues in neighboring land.
Step 3: Select Your Material
It is crucial to ensure the retaining wall is built to stand the test of time. You need the best materials, an excellent drainage system, and porous soil to fill in behind your wall.
When considering what materials you will use, you must give thought to the pressure your retaining wall will need to endure – several tons and even more if it is a tall wall. You also need to plan for increased density of the soil as it is exposed to rain and other water sources, creating an increase in pressure.
There are several options for materials to use for your retaining wall. Wood, natural stones, bricks, poured concrete, and concrete retaining wall blocks are among some of the most common.
Whether you are building the wall to prevent soil erosion or establishing tiered walls to make a garden more functional, BaseCore Geocell is a material that will last and offer the support and ease of use you need. The benefits of geocell are many:
Ease of Use: While a row of blocks may be sturdy and able to withstand pressure, installation requires much more effort. Geocell is lightweight, easily transported, and easily maneuvered for the shape of the wall you have designed. It is ideal for both cut and fill retention projects. While it is best to consult engineers no matter what material you choose, using geocell for your wall will significantly reduce the number of specialists required to achieve installation.
Economical: Geocell is a less expensive option. This is because the material is priced economically and requires less infill than other materials. As mentioned above, it also requires the help of fewer specialists, which can reduce overall costs.
A Lasting Solution: The perimeter cell walls provide a perforated drain, allowing easy drainage no matter which infill material you choose. This helps reduce pressure on the wall and increase structural integrity. When properly installed, geocell foundations may last 75 years or more.
Once you have selected your material, it is time to install the first layer.
Step 4: Install the First Layer
Check again for a level surface before proceeding with installing the first layer. If you are using a geocell ground grid, you will need to install stretcher bars into your geotextile and base. This will allow you to expand and secure the geocell sections. Next, fill the grid with your chosen infill and compact it.
Step 5: Stack and Compact (If Using Geocell)
Continue with your next layer: installing geocell using stretcher tools or stakes, filling with infill, and compacting. Repeat to the desired height, aligning each layer at the front of the wall with each adjoining section.
Note: Continue to oversee the gap behind your wall, as you may need to excavate more soil to make room for continued layering.
Step 6: Cap off your retaining wall
Once your wall has reached the desired height, fill in behind it with a porous or easily drained material, such as sand or gravel. Make sure to fill in small amounts to let the backfill completely settle and ensure it is compacted. This will make your retaining wall more sturdy.
Questions About Building a Retaining Wall with Geocell?
If you are considering whether geocell might be the right material for your retaining wall, connect with us today! We are dedicated to providing construction solutions that allow for ease of use, durability, and affordability, no matter the project.