From Dean Dowd on June 09, 2008 in Landscaping
Pre-cast concrete stones are a great option for building a retaining wall. These are made with a lip on the backside of the block so that they interlock with the stones laid on top of them. Also called segmental walls, retaining walls made with pre-cast stones do not need any mortar to bind them together. By way of this interlocking, pre-cast stones result in a strong wall that will easily hold back the soil pressing against it. However, be aware that retaining walls constructed using these stones should not be much more than three feet tall unless engineered and built by a professional.
This newfangled way of constructing retaining walls has opened up a wide variety of design possibilities.
- Curves. Building curved retaining walls is a breeze with pre-cast stones. Many blocks are tapered from front to back, allowing you to curve the wall without disrupting the tight seams and strength of the wall.
- Terraces. Building a group of retaining walls into a terraced affect for your yard or garden is not only attractive to many homeowners but may also be practical if your yard slopes more than three feet.
- Serpentine Walls. Take the possibility of curvature to the next level with a serpentine wall. Often used for longer, winding stretches and around swimming pools, serpentine walls will no doubt take more time but will add snakelike charm to your lawn.
- Steps. Let’s not forget steps for getting up onto your newly leveled lawn. You could even have large, semicircular steps up over your curvy, serpentine wall. Yet another example of the diversity of segmental systems.
- Waterfront Walls. Pre-cast concrete stones, by design, are strong and can be used to hold back soil at a waterfront. Just bear in mind that the taller a wall gets, its need for strength expands exponentially.
- Good, old-fashioned, straight-run walls must be included as a possibility too. Sometimes simple is just what you need and definitely the most user-friendly, although the main advantage of segmental systems is their user-friendliness, in any capacity.
Retaining walls have long been a great option for dressing up a landscape, or garden, or for more practical uses like staving off erosion. Segmental systems, using the pre-cast concrete stones, has brought retaining wall construction into the do-it-yourself realm.
The only disadvantage is that walls cannot be much more than three feet tall without some added engineering and professional expertise. And this is not a tip to be ignored, because of the mounting lateral pressure of backfill and the possible hydrostatic pressure of water, a professional contractor should definitely be consulted for walls of four feet or higher.
Nonetheless, the advent of segmental wall systems has been great for landscaping. They are preferred for their ease of install, practicality, and relatively low price. They are also more environmentally sound than more traditional retaining wall options, such as railroad ties and poured-in-place concrete.