14 Benefits of Installing a Retaining Wall!
Monalisa Patel is a Structural Engineer who has earned her Master’s degree (ME) from the L.J College of Engineering and Technology Ahmadabad in 2018. She is an Engineer (Civil) at SDCPL – Gharpedia. Helping people to solve their queries about construction is her passion. Apart from being blogger, she also participates in structural design at SDCPL. She is reachable on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.
Retaining wall is a structure built to withstand lateral i.e. horizontal pressure of soil or retain materials which are behind it. They are built to hold back filled-(soil) materials. Generally they are erected to prevent the soil sloping downward with erosion. They are raised when two adjacent soils are at different levels i.e. on slopes, hilly areas etc. They are considerably used on roads. Nowadays, they are extensively used in garden or landscaping while dealing with different levels which are either natural or manmade. Their main function is to sustain pressure and provide stability to the filled materials.
The retaining wall not only protects your landscaping and beautifies the surrounding, but it also contributes in increasing the value of your property. However, it is an engineering structure hence; it requires technical knowledge for proper design its execution. A homeowner who can identify the need for a retaining wall will obviously have to hire an experienced structural designer as well as a civil contractor to ensure that the wall is carefully and cautiously constructed.
According to ‘Francis D. K. Ching’ (Author of Building Construction Illustrated) When a desired change in ground elevation exceeds the angle of repose of the soil, a retaining wall becomes necessary to hold back the mass of earth on the uphill side of the grade change.
Apart from holding soil and creating a beautiful landscape, they also serve various other purposes. The benefit of retaining wall includes flood prevention, erosion control, and much more.
Let us understand in detail the benefits of retaining wall one-by-one:
The benefits of retaining wall are,
Benefit 1: Retaining Wall Prevents Damage to the Nearby Structures
If the structure or home is located on a lower platform compared to the surrounding land, there is a risk of soil on the higher elevated area collapsing or sliding down slowly on the building, thereby causing damage or structural problem to the home. By constructing a retaining wall, you can hold back this higher level ground and protect the existing structure or building.
Similarly, if your house is located at a higher platform than the adjoining ground which is comparatively at a lower level or it is on the bank of some natural water resource, the erosion of soil due to rain, floods or even earthquake will cause the soil to slide (sometimes suddenly). Such incidences may sometime lead to collapse of the house. This is because the foundation will get exposed and loosen the support of soil on which it stands. At times, we cannot prevent nature from running its course, but we can very well prepare for it. Thus, a well designed retaining wall will serve the purpose of protecting your house under such circumstances.
Benefit 2: Retaining Wall Helps to Resist Gravity Load
When your property is located in an area where the lateral pressure of a slope is exerting undue force at another area, you may consider the option of a retaining wall to balance and fight gravity so as to avoid landslides and erosion.
Benefit 3: Retaining Wall Prevents Erosion
Retaining wall averts soil erosion and this is the most important benefit of retaining wall. If you have sloped area on your property, you may be struggling with runoff problems. Raising a retaining wall is an excellent way of reducing erosion. By using a retaining wall near a border or slope, you provide leveled surfaces on inclined planes. Thus, soil is prevented from eroding on the downward incline. Retaining walls also secure the structure if they are just adjacent to it.
We have also published an article on the types of retaining wall; please have a look at it,
Benefit 4: Retaining Wall Controls Flooding
Heavy rains can sometimes cause flooding, leading to extensive property damage. Retaining walls constructed in flood-prone areas not only hold soil in place, but also prevent flooding/erosion during heavy downpours.
Benefit 5: Retaining Wall Helps in Diverting and Utilizing Rainwater
By implementing an innovative design in building a brick retaining wall, the rainwater which usually gets drained off can be diverted and utilized for better purposes in your home gardens and grass turf. You can use a retaining wall to direct rainwater into a collection system, which can later be used to water your garden and lawns.
Benefit 6: Retaining Wall Helps in Reshaping Slopes
When the natural contours of your yard just do not seem quite right to you, raising retaining walls can help you create the look you would want to. Such walls intensify an aesthetic appeal to the structure and its surrounding. By hiring professional retaining wall constructer, you may be able to move around backfill, change the slopes and contour your property to make it eye-catching and an inviting place.
Benefit 7: Retaining Wall will Beautify Your Property
If your yard has natural slopes, you can utilize them to create beautiful and unique landscapes. You can build a lovely retaining wall that can serve as a centrepiece in your backyard or complex design of retaining walls that can show off an exquisite vertical flower garden. You can also create a series of retaining walls one above other if your contour variations are large. Retaining walls give a distinguished look to your place.
Do you know how to choose the right kind of flowering plant for your home garden? Click below to read,
Benefit 8: Retaining Wall Acts as a Natural Décor
If the natural slope is within your premises or near to your house, you can build a retaining wall as a part of your patio or barbecue pit area. Well-designed brick retaining wall can serve dual purpose – it can provide an outer shelf for plants and can also be utilized for picnic supplies or yard games. If one wants, outdoor lighting can be incorporated near or into the retaining wall. This will furthermore add beauty to the place.
Benefit 9: Eliminates Unsightly Dirt Piles
Whether there is a hill of sand or debris from a construction project or land that has been lying unused, random dirt piles can be unsightly on such properties. This can make the rest of your place look ugly. Thus, a retaining wall can be the best option for transforming these unused spaces into usable gardens or green grassy place for relaxation.
As mentioned earlier; one of the benefits of the retaining wall is – it beautifies your home surrounding & outdoor living space. You can also create a wonderful patio in the garden. Know some wonderful patio design ideas from here.
Benefit 10: Reduce Yard Maintenance
Although there are some people who prefer to spend their free time in various activities, there are some who would still love to spend their weekends or leisure time working or relaxing in their yard, garden or landscape. You can reduce the maintenance cost of your home by constructing a retaining wall. This will also add to the beauty of your yard.
Benefit 11: Retaining Wall Benefits to Prevent Sink Holes
Sinkholes may develop over a period of time in geographical areas where water slowly dissolves carbonate rock. This will ultimately create a hole under the surface area. The sinkholes can be small or large, depending on the speed of deterioration. These sinkholes are dangerous for the structure and it becomes difficult to fix once they start showing the problem. Thus, these retaining walls prevent sinkholes from damaging your landscape structure.
Benefit 12: Creates Usable Land
You may be familiar with older built neighbourhoods where homes are set up on a hill with a steep incline down to the street level. It can be difficult to find a place for raising a vegetable garden or flower garden on such a steep surface. A brick retaining wall can provide homeowners more usable land which is levelled and flat, making it easier to plant the type of vegetation one would want to even on a small property.
Benefit 13: Retaining Wall Can Open Up Space for a Sitting Area
Most retaining walls are lower in height and hence can become a popular spot in the yard to converse, read or relax. It creates a comfortable place to sit from where you can have the leisure of bird-watching, or watch your kids at play or even a beautiful sunset without making any extra investment in yard furniture.
Benefit 14: Retaining Wall can Enhance Your Home Value
The exterior of a home and its surrounding place is usually the first thing that any prospective home buyers will look upon when he is thinking to buy one. Retaining walls are an asset to your property and they add both – monetary as well as aesthetical value to your property. If you are considering of selling your property in the future, your investment in the retaining walls will certainly return you more.
According to ‘R. Chudley & R. Greeno’ (Author of Building Construction Handbook), the major function of any retaining wall is to act as earth retaining structure for the whole or part of its height on one face, the other being exposed to the elements.
Summing up, Retaining walls are very low maintenance, highly functional, space-saving, eye-catching, environmental-friendly especially with good design and construction. There are various materials available for constructing a retaining wall. Professional help can ensure proper designing and construction of your retaining wall. Retaining wall constructed by choosing the right material will provide an aesthetic appearance to your home. Retaining walls made of natural materials such as stones or stone gabions can withstand harsh weather conditions. Constructing walls using natural material implies that you have access to locally available materials even in times of repair. It can also create a high-impact entrance, providing terrace for growing flowering plants while establishing a sort of gateway to the property.