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Dos and Don’ts of Retaining Walls

DPG Pavers - Paving Contractor


Reducing soil erosion, turning steep slopes into terraced backdrops, creating focal points in the landscape—retaining walls serve many purposes. Indeed, they are some of the most common ways to correct problems caused by hilly areas! Well-built retaining walls transform unworkable inclines into usable outdoor space for the garden. Despite their simple appearance, though, these walls require a good deal of planning—sometimes even professional engineering! Here are some important Do’s and Don't you need to know when it comes to retaining walls.

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1. Don’t Forget To Check With Your Local Authorities

A retaining wall’s effect on the natural flow of water could impact your neighbors, so some communities require homeowners to obtain a permit before construction commences.  If this is the case, you may have to submit your plans and wait for a property inspection before commencing work.

2. Do Compact The Trench

Compact the soil in the trench bottom with a hand tamper or vibrating plate compactor. This step is often neglected and is vital for keeping the wall from settling in strange ways. The excavator, and even hand shovels, can disturb and loosen the top inch or two of soil, and that’s enough to make your wall settle—settling is bad!


3. Don’t Forget To Allow For Drainage

When building a retaining wall, never backfill with, or compact, topsoil; it will break down and settle, creating a water-welcoming trench behind your wall. Use sand or gravel for your materials as these compact much better. 


To avoid failure, make drainage provisions at the same time as you go about building the retaining wall. Backfilling the space behind the blocks with crushed stone and then installing a flexible perforated drainpipe, also called a “drain tile,” at the base of the wall will create the necessary escape route for groundwater.

4. Do Make A Creative Design

Retaining walls don't have to be perfectly straight. Add a curve to dress up a boring straight wall and to add a little more texture to your landscape. You can use a garden hose or large rope to set the layout of the curve, then use a shovel to cut through the soil to follow the curve.

5. Don’t Forget To Sweep Before Stacking

Even a small pebble on the surface of a block will throw the one above it out of alignment. And that crooked block will affect the one above it, and so on. That little stone at the very bottom of the wall could eventually create an unattractive hump in the top course.


Are Ready to Construct A Beautiful Retaining Wall? 

At DPG Pavers, we’ve been providing our customers with specialized Landscape and Hardscape Design and Build services for over 30 years. DPG Pavers, headquartered in San Ramon, California is the best curb-appeal and outdoor living space designer in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Appearing on HGTV’s Curb Appeal and featured on Discovery Channel’s program Renovation Nation, our team of skilled designers and landscape engineers provides top-quality service and professionalism our customers love.  DPG Pavers offers 2-D and 3-D conceptual home and landscape design plans that allow you to visualize your dream space and make that dream-concept a reality. 


Have a retaining wall in dire need of replacement? Having trouble designing an aesthetic, yet practical retaining wall? Did you run into trouble while creating your retaining wall? Contact DPG Pavers to schedule your free consultation today!



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DIY Network -  10 Things you must know about retaining walls

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