Useful Tips

How to build a retaining wall


The plot allotted for the garden does not always have an even relief. Very often there are territories with hills. Many believe that they need to be aligned as much as possible, but in fact - this is a great option for introducing various original ideas into landscape design. One of these is a self-made made retaining wall. You can make it from a variety of materials of any design. This article will provide general recommendations and expert advice on arranging a quality wall in the garden.

Retaining walls for terracing

Those who built the house with their own hands know that ground pressure acts on the foundation from the outside - the same story with retaining structures. In winter, the matter is complicated by heaving (expansion, due to freezing of moisture drops) of the soil. In order for the retaining wall structure to be resistant to such an impact, there are several rules for its construction.

  • Firstly , the upper layer of soil is more stable, and in the lower layers will settle under the weight of the wall material.
  • Secondly, the back of the retaining structure will be free to form a drainage system.
  • Thirdly, This is the least expensive option without the involvement of earthmoving equipment.
  • Depth a strip foundation on non-porous soils for retaining walls from 30 to 80 cm is 30 cm, an increase in height from 80 to 150 cm entails a deepening of the foundation to 60 cm. On heaving soils, this value is compared with the depth of freezing of the soil.
  • Foundation sole width must exceed the width of the base of the wall by at least 15 -20 cm, this will ensure the stability of the entire structure during operation.

Anyway the foundation is laid on a gravel pillow from 10 to 20 cm. The foundation must absolutely definitely repeat bends walls.

The wall (body) itself during operation will withstand certain loads and may eventually become deformed under soil pressure.

In order to prevent such a process, the body of the retaining wall, if its height exceeds 1.5 m, along with the foundation it is customary to do with a slight slope towards the terrace.

  • longitudinal drainage - gravel or sand backfill and perforated drain pipe laid at the base of the foundation from the back of the wall,
  • transverse drainage - a pipe laid across the body of the wall in order to divert the drain to the outside, the frequency of pipe laying depends on the height of the retaining wall (read further in the article).

Without drainage on non-porous soils can only be done with structures with low (up to 60 cm) “moving walls” (dry masonry, log walls, prefabricated modules, where the water flows from the drainage bed and openings between body elements. But even in this case, gravel bedding is required The drainage system together with the crushed stone pillow protects against soil penetration and germination of the roots of herbaceous plants with geotextiles.

Get to know the design

Before you start construction, you should carefully study the design. This will allow you to properly plan all the work and get a good result. So, any retaining wall consists of three main parts:

  1. Foundation. As in the construction of a house, this part is almost all underground, which allows it to take the entire load of the building.
  2. Body. The main part is a vertical wall.
  3. Drainage. Artificial drainage reduces the likelihood of destruction from moisture.

The next step will be the calculation of the retaining wall, since the soil pressure will act on it from the opposite side. Because of this, its design should be carefully considered so that barriers to pressure resistance are created. Based on the average statistics, in the country most often erect walls of height from 30 cm to 1.5 m. They are small, so you can easily perform all the calculations yourself, without involving specialists.

Best of all, a special computer program for landscape design will cope with the task. With a difference of more than 1.5 m, consultation of professionals, as well as engineering and geological surveys will be required.

Note! If you make the wrong calculations, then already next spring, it is likely that the soil together with the wall will collapse and you will have to do everything from the very beginning.

It is necessary to choose the material not at random, but planned. The choice will be influenced not only by the size of the planned budget, but also the existing style of the site, landscape design. By connecting imagination, you can quickly come up with everything and be sure to sketch, then to calculate the required amount of material. Consider the most common options.

In this case, not any lumber is suitable, since we are talking about thick and durable logs. They are installed both vertically and horizontally, depending on the project. When creating a retaining wall of logs, several key points to consider:

  • the diameter of the logs should be at least 25-30 cm,
  • each must be dug into the ground to a depth of at least 40 cm (the parameter is determined depending on the height of the structure),
  • set as tightly as possible to each other to obtain reliable support,
  • reliability will be given by reinforcement or clamps used for fastening.

First comes the foundation, and then the drainage layer. It is also permissible to create a simple pillow made of gravel, but the wood should be treated with protective agents against insects and moisture. These include:

  • professional (can be purchased at the store),
  • machine oil,
  • roofing material.

On the reverse side, a layer of any material is filled up to form a drainage system.

Note! For the convenience of fixing logs in the ground, a trench is dug.

Due to the high complexity and cost, many refuse to create retaining walls of stone. Nevertheless, if you decide on this complex process, then proceed to the formation of drainage and foundation. These layers must be laid in a pre-dug trench. The foundation should be strengthened. For these purposes, fit:

  • wire,
  • fittings,
  • bent electrodes, etc.

After the foundation completely hardens, you can proceed to laying natural stone:

  • granite,
  • diabase,
  • quartzite and other rocks.

The type of masonry is chosen absolutely individually: dry or classic masonry. Many people prefer the first option, since in this case the voids can be filled with soil mixed with seeds of flowers, herbs and even moss.

Note! When laying stone, avoid cross-shaped joints, as they will affect the strength of the entire retaining wall. It is best to use a chess scheme.

This innovative solution has recently appeared. Modern designers quickly found use for gabions not only in the construction of fences and barriers, but also in creating retaining walls. The design is a metal mesh of various shapes that fill with stones.

Prepared containers are put in a row and bandaged with a wire. All elements are placed in series and covered with material. When using simple gravel, you can not bother, but with a decorative stone you will have to do everything carefully and carefully. The result is an original design.

Note! If the planned wall will be small in height, then you can do without a foundation, but at a height of 1 m or more, a preliminary fill with a gravel-sand cushion will be required.

To make a retaining wall of brick is not difficult, since the scheme and technology is identical to building a house. The requirements are practically no different, the only nuances are rigidity and pressure from the inside:

  • for a low wall with a height of 50 cm, a half-brick wall will be enough,
  • a wall up to 1 m high requires a width of one brick,
  • if the structure is more than 1 m, reinforced masonry with one and a half bricks will be required.

A drainage system must be installed between the wall and the foundation to protect the material.

Note! The foundation of the wall implies the presence of dressings and drainage, especially for tall structures.

Also a simple and affordable way to create a strong and reliable wall. Especially the process will not cause difficulties for men who have at least once encountered this building material. So, in order to create a strong retaining wall of concrete will be enough:

  • qualitatively perform the dressing,
  • lay down the drain
  • create a formwork
  • provide for waterproofing and drainage system,
  • Knead the solution in the correct proportion.

To make the gray wall attractive, it is necessary to carry out decorative decoration at your discretion.

Note! It should be noted that the wall will be several times heavier than brick or stone.

Step-by-step instruction

Now let's look at a detailed example of how to make a retaining wall in the garden with your own hands. Let us dwell on the brick, since this material is quite common and will not require many power and time expenses during the arrangement. It will act as a separator and will separate one zone from another.

Preparatory work is quite simple:

  • pick up the remains of brick after construction in the amount of 120 pcs.,
  • set dimensions: length - 150 cm, width - 50 cm and height 50 cm,
  • marking the selected area,
  • preparation of tools: trowel, hammer, embroidery, cord and plumb.

The following is the main construction process:

  1. We dig a pit for drainage along the outlined perimeter with a depth of not more than 20 cm. We form a sand cushion, compact it well and pour it with water for maximum shrinkage.
  2. In the role of a waterproofing sheet, a sheet of roofing material will be sufficient, which should correspond to the size of the retaining wall.
  3. We prepare the solution: the proportion of cement to sand corresponds to 1: 3. Add water to obtain the desired consistency.
  4. We put the first row directly on the roofing material. First, to make everything smooth, install the extreme bricks and pull the thread between them. The entire bottom row should consist of 24 bricks: 6 pieces in length and 4 in width. If there are broken bricks, then it is best to lay them with the damaged part in the middle.
  5. The second row is also starting to be built from the corners using the technology of the first, but at the same time, the masonry seams should not coincide. Be guided by the "chess" technology. For convenience, whole bricks with a hammer, which has a narrowed end, are split into even 2 halves. Align the flatness with a plumb line.
  6. The subsequent rows are repeated similarly to the technology described above. The remaining protruding solution is immediately removed from the wall with a trowel.

A small retaining wall can serve not only as a flower stand, but also act as a bench.

Note! Choosing an old brick for construction, you can give it the effect of antiquity, which is very popular in modern design.

When planning to erect a retaining wall on a garden plot, it should be noted that it will perform not only a practical, but also a decorative function. With careful planning and careful erection, the design will become a real highlight of the entire landscape design. There are a huge amount of materials and technologies for decorating and decorating the wall, so everyone can choose the best and most suitable option for themselves.

Watch the video on building concrete retaining walls below:

Natural stone structure

A good decoration of the cottage are the walls of natural stone - buta. The large mass of the structure does not require coordination with the hill. After construction, the wall does not need special care and will last a long time. The laying of stones can be done dry, filling the voids with fertile soil. Subsequently, climbing plants are planted between the seams. But this option requires great skills in laying stone. The best option for building a stone wall in the country with your own hands is the wet method of masonry. It consists in laying stones on a cement mortar.

Material selection

The weight of each stone can reach 30 kg or more. Sizes and shapes are also diverse. Therefore, before laying the wall, it must be sorted:

  • the largest samples will go to equip the foundation and masonry of the lower rows,
  • from large stones with a flat surface lay the front side of the structure,
  • fine fractions will go inside the masonry.

In the process of laying, stones will have to be chipped to a smaller size. For these purposes, use a 5 pound hammer and a chisel. After trying the stone on it make a mark with a wax pencil. Then, at the mark, set the bit at an angle to the side of the cleavage and sharply beat it with a hammer.

Features of masonry dressing

Bandaging of seams of uneven buta must be observed in all directions: between the bute in each row and between adjacent rows:

  • stones are stacked alternately with short and long sides,
  • for the ligament of the front and back of the masonry at a level of 60 cm and in the last row make transverse masonry. For these purposes, large fractions of buta are used, equal to the width of the wall.

When laying the wall with your own hands, you should not make the structure more than 1-1.2 m. Without a certain skill, the wall will turn out unstable.

Stone retaining wall construction

Wall construction procedure

Construction work must be performed at a temperature of at least + 5 ° C. To seal the voids between the stones, separately prepare a liquid solution. Next, proceed to work according to the instructions:

  1. After marking the site, proceed to digging a trench under the base. Its width should be 60 cm greater than the wall thickness. Depth is determined by the level of soil freezing, plus 10 cm is added for reliability.
  2. The bottom of the trench is rammed tightly. Then spread the geotextile so that its edges extend above both sides of the trench.
  3. Pour a 15 cm gravel pillow on top of the geotextile. If the area is heaving soil, the thickness of the pillow should be increased to 50 cm with the condition of deepening the bottom row of stones by at least 20 cm.
  4. On both sides of the trench, drive 2 rods with a slope of 8 cm towards the hill for every 100 cm of the wall height. Between them, pull two cords along the edge of the front and back of the wall.
  5. On a gravel set a series of large stones. Wide voids clogged with rubble. Then fill all the small voids with cement mortar. The base is ready for the construction of a retaining structure.
  6. The first row of stone is laid without mortar along the front and back edges of the structure. They must be laid out taking into account the dressing of the foundation stone seams. Aligning the masonry on the cord, raise each stone and lay it on a 40 mm layer of mortar, tapping on top with a hammer.
  7. Lay the space between the edges in smaller fractions on the cement mortar. Pour the resulting voids with a solution with the addition of small stones.
  8. The subsequent rows are laid out similarly, gradually lifting the cord upwards. Do not forget to make the transverse masonry at the level of 60 cm and the last row.
  9. After finishing the masonry, proceed to the jointing with mortar. To add aesthetics to the solution, you can add colored pigment. Stitching is best done with grooves so that water runs along them. As the solution dries, wet the joints with water so that they gain strength.

Concrete support

A monolithic wall of concrete is more accessible to build in the country with your own hands even to an inexperienced owner, although this is a laborious process:

  1. Dig a trench of the same perimeter as a wall under the structure. Its depth depends on the height of the aboveground part. The higher the wall, the deeper you need to dig a trench.
  2. Fill the bottom with a 15 cm layer of a mixture of gravel and gravel. Lay out a grid of 8 mm reinforcement on top. The rods are connected together by wire.

Formwork poured with concrete

Decorative concrete retaining wall with cladding

Brick retaining structure

Do-it-yourself brick backup device is no different from conventional wall construction. If you decide to lay a regular red brick, then the front side will have to be faced. Laying decorative bricks will help to avoid this procedure. You only have to complete the jointing.

Particular attention should be paid to the thickness of the masonry:

  • a structure up to 80 cm high is laid out in a half brick,
  • if the wall height is 1 m, it is necessary to build it into a brick,
  • structures with a height of more than 1 m are laid out with a thickness of at least 1.5 bricks.

A concrete base is poured under the structure 30 cm wider than the wall itself. Depth is determined by the composition and degree of freezing of the soil, as well as the height of the aboveground part. The higher these indicators, the deeper the foundation is needed:

  1. Along the perimeter of the trench, build formwork. Cover the bottom with a 15 cm layer of gravel or gravel. Lay the reinforcing mesh on top.
  2. The formwork is poured with concrete and left for a couple of weeks for solidification.
  3. Drive stakes on both sides of the base. Between them connect the cord.
  4. Lay out bricks on a cement mortar, aligning it with a stretched cord. During masonry, it must be remembered that the ratio of length to thickness should correspond to 1: 3.

Application in the construction of gabions

A fairly simple retaining wall device is obtained from gabions. These factory-made boxes are made of stainless steel mesh. Gabions are produced in different sizes and shapes.

To build a wall with your own hands, it is better to use the boxed view of gabions:

  1. Gabion bottom has sharp pins for fixing. Этими штырями короб забиваете в грунт на месте установки стены.
  2. Bind the box together with galvanized wire.
  3. Through the opening lid inside the grid, lay stones of different sizes. Large fractions should be put closer to the edge. The middle can be filled even with small gravel.
  4. From a lot of weight, the side walls of the mesh can bend. Their screed with braces will help to avoid this.
  5. Close the full box with a lid, fixing it with a special lock.

A gabion structure may deform due to high ground pressure, but it will never collapse.

Wood wall

Wood is not the best material for such buildings because of the fragility. But still this is a good option, especially if the site is located near the forest. From pre-prepared logs, you can build your own a beautiful support for the soil:

  1. Work begins with the preparation of the material. For construction, only smooth logs with a diameter of 12-18 cm are suitable. They must be cut into the required length, taking into account 50 cm, which will be buried in the ground. To increase the life of the wood, soak the logs with a composition against decay.
  2. In a dug trench 50 cm deep, set the logs vertically tight to each other. Tie them on top with wire, and fasten them with nails on the sides. This will prevent their displacement. For the stability of the logs, attach temporary braces on the side,
  3. After the entire wall is exposed and leveled, pour gravel into the trench. Top with cement mortar. After solidification, remove the supporting struts.

A tree is that material with which it is possible to experiment. Having the skills to work with wood, it’s easy to build a small fence made of logs of different thicknesses with your own hands. The wall of horizontally laid logs will elegantly decorate the landscape at the cottage. This design consists of vertically concreted logs at a certain distance. Spans between supports are covered with logs, laying them horizontally on top of each other.

Old tires as a building material

The simplest and cheapest retaining wall device from old car tires. You stack them in rows in the form of columns with a stepped displacement towards the hill. In the middle of the column, hammer the anchor pile. Fasten the tires between each other and to the pile with clamps made independently of the conveyor belt. Fill the inside of the tires with fertile soil. In them, you can plant climbing plants to decorate the wall.

Protective measures and backfilling the wall

Before you fill the soil between the wall and the hill, you must perform a number of measures:

    The water accumulated in the ground will eventually destroy a stone or wooden wall. The construction of a drainage system will help to avoid troubles. The simplest type of structure is transverse. It consists in making 10 cm of holes in the third rows of the masonry wall. The longitudinal drainage device consists of a perforated pipe laid along the wall. From above it is wrapped with a geotextile. The pipe is laid at the level of the base with a slope towards the drain.

Longitudinal drainage: 1 - wall, 2 - foundation, 3 - drainage, 4 - crushed stone, 5 - geotextile, 6 - sand, 7 - rough.

Cross drainage: 1 - crushed stone, 2 - wall, 3 - drainage pipe.

A self-made wall can be decorated to your taste. This is a planting of climbing plants, decorative highlights, beautiful cladding materials, forged elements and much more. It all depends on the imagination of the owner and the possibility of material costs.

Purpose of retaining walls

By appointment, retaining walls are divided into two main classes:

  • Decorative. The main purpose of such buildings is to give the landscape a site with a slight slope of a more attractive aesthetic appearance.

  • Reinforcing. Such walls withstand significant soil pressure and are designed to prevent it from sliding along the slope and leaching the fertile layer from the surface of the site.

Varieties of concrete retaining walls

Reinforcing retaining walls made of monolithic reinforced concrete are divided into three types:

The first category of supporting walls holds soil pressure only due to its large mass (strength also depends on the depth of penetration). Due to the fact that the production of such walls requires a large amount of building material, for individual construction they can be recommended for the construction of low retaining structures (0.5 to 0.7 m above the ground level) in areas with a small angle of inclination. Then the recommended depth (⅓ of the height) is 0.17 ÷ 0.24 m, and the thickness (¼ ÷ ½ of the height) is 0.25 ÷ 0.35 m.

Combined products have less weight than massive ones. To increase their stability, a foundation of a wider size is used than the base of the wall itself (soil, pressing on the protruding elements of the foundation, partially reduces the load and thereby increases the stability).

Thin-walled retaining walls of concrete are made of a G- or T-shape. Since the width of the “sole” of such products is comparable with their height, the vertical pressure of the soil on the support significantly reduces horizontal loads and increases the wall's resistance to tipping.

Such products can be purchased in the form of finished sections made in the factory.

Home-made retaining concrete wall

If the slope of the surface of your site is not too large, then it will not be difficult to make a retaining wall of concrete with your own hands. For example: you need to build a retaining wall 1.2 m high (above ground level). In order to save building material (reinforcing bars and concrete mortar), we recommend choosing a thin-walled corner retaining wall with a T-shaped base. How to make a retaining wall of concrete (three main steps):

Preparatory stage

First, prepare a sketch, drawing and reinforcement diagram.

Then proceed to the land work. We make markings with the help of pegs and a construction cord. We dig a trench of the necessary width (slightly larger than the width of the support, taking into account the formwork) and depth (taking into account the thickness of the support and pillow from sand and gravel). We’ll store the earth from the trench in a free area (later it will be needed for backfilling on both sides of the wall). Pour sand at the bottom of the trench (layer thickness of about 0.2 m) and ram it (periodically wetting with water). Then we fall asleep the same layer of crushed stone and also ram it (with a vibrating plate or manual rammer). On top of the equipped pillow, lay the geo-fabric.

Formwork and grouting

Now we begin to create a reinforcing frame. Reinforcing rods of the “sole” and “body” of the wall should be interconnected.

We are building the formwork. First, we do it only for the foundation of the wall. After that, pour concrete mortar along the entire length of the foundation, compact it with a vibrator. After setting the mortar, we proceed to the installation of the formwork of the supporting wall itself. The technology for the production of formwork and the materials used for its manufacture are similar to the arrangement of a strip foundation.

Important! In the process of arranging the formwork, it is necessary to lay transverse plastic or asbestos-cement pipes to drain groundwater and sediment penetrating into the soil (the lower edge of the pipes should be slightly above the ground level on the outside of the supporting wall). This will significantly reduce the load on the inside of the vertical slab. The distance between the transverse drainage pipes - 1.0÷ 1.5 m.

Then proceed to pouring the concrete retaining wall.

Attention! So that the formwork does not collapse or deform during pouring, this process is best done in stages. First, pour the solution on⅓ height along the entire length of the wall. Then we make vibration compaction of the poured solution. Next, fill the formwork with a solution by another third and so on.

To ensure the greatest strength and uniformity, it is desirable to fill the entire structure in one day. After the solution is poured to the upper edge of the wall and completely tamped, the surface is smoothed and covered with a plastic film and left for final drying. To prevent the rapid evaporation of water from the solution (which may adversely affect strength) in hot weather, the surface of the solution is periodically wetted.

Waterproofing and arrangement of the drainage system

After 7 ÷ 9 days, we proceed to dismantle the formwork. To ensure durability, we cover the concrete surface of the wall with a waterproofing material (for example, a special composition based on liquid rubber).

Next, we begin to equip the drainage system for the retaining wall of concrete using the following technology:

  • Along the entire length of the wall, from the inside (i.e., from the side of the slope), we lay a perforated pipe (necessarily wrapped in a permeable geo-fabric).
  • Then we fill this pipe with gravel.
  • We lay geotextiles on top of the gravel (in order to preserve the free space not filled with soil between the individual gravel particles).
  • The free end of the pipe (on one or both sides of the wall) is brought into the drainage ditch (or well) or the nearest water collector.

At the final stage, we fill up the free space around the wall with soil.

Important! We begin to backfill only after the retaining wall of concrete has gained its final strength and can withstand significant loads from the side of the slope, that is, not earlier than in a month.

Next, we proceed to decorate the visible part of the constructed retaining wall. For these purposes, tiles, natural or artificial stone are usually used.

Concrete block retaining wall

For the installation of decorative retaining walls, blocks of lightweight porous concrete are successfully used. Reinforcing retaining walls of concrete blocks are made of FBS (solid foundation blocks) with a width of at least 400 mm (by the way, this value will be the wall thickness). They are made in the factory. High strength and density (2000 ÷ 2300 kg / m³) of the material determine their widespread use in the construction of massive retaining walls.

Algorithm for arranging a retaining wall of concrete blocks:

  • We make marking, earthwork and arrangement of pillows made of sand and gravel (all works are similar to the construction of a reinforced concrete wall).
  • After this, we proceed to laying the blocks, which we fasten together with a sand-cement mortar.
  • The rows of blocks are laid “apart” (that is, we equip each subsequent row with a shift by half of the block in relation to the previous one).

  • To increase the bearing capacity and strength of the wall, we put reinforcing elements (metal mesh or reinforcement bars) in horizontal mortar joints.

Attention! Weight of a standard unit with dimensions of 800x 400 x580 mm is 470 kg, therefore, to equip the retaining wall from such products, the use of lifting equipment will be required.

In custody

The choice of retaining wall design depends on its purpose (decorative or reinforcing) and the characteristics of a particular site: elevation, soil characteristics, groundwater level, and so on. A properly designed and equipped retaining wall will last several decades without repair.