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Rock Retaining Wall Options

Written by GJ Stott

Rock retaining walls refer to structures designed resist the breakdown of natural elements. In this article, we will discuss options associated with building a rock retaining wall (similar to block walls)for landscaping purposes. While such walls can be created or installed by both homeowners and business leaders, they provide improved aesthetics for either place by helping to eliminate erosion, terrace an area of land or beauty the landscaping.

Rock retaining walls can either be built rock by rock or be formed by precast concrete. Building a rock retaining wall is an extensive project. The planning portion alone should take a considerable amount of time as you consider the soil type, foliage, element you want to protect or retain, slopes of the ground, lines of the landscape and type of rock to be used.

After all of these considerations have been determined, the preparation work includes forming a solid footing. While a solid footing is only required if the rock retaining wall is over four feet, it certainly improves the stability of any rock retaining wall. When the wall is over four feet, a concrete footing should be at least a fourth of the height of the wall. Such footing systems are time-consuming to plan and construct, but they further help the single rocks and soil above them to last longer.

The next step in building your own rock retaining wall is to determine the type of rock you will be using in each section. Rock quality is crucial to the durability of the wall. While some stones are hard, others crumble easily. Sometimes you have to trade aesthetics for weather resistance.

The bottom (just above the footing) rock layer should use long flat rocks. The next layer provides the body of the wall and should have medium-sized rock (as compared to the bottom and capstone layers). Capstone rocks lie along the top of the wall and need to be long and heavy.

In between each layer of rock, soil is often packed to keep the stone in place. The main problem with soil is that it can settle irregularly and be washed out continually with each rain or watering. Concrete can also be used between the rocks and increases wall longevity.

The other type of rock retaining wall is precast concrete retaining wall. These walls combine all of the steps and worries above into two simple steps: formation and installation. The same rock textures can be formed into the precast by using polyurethane liners that create rock looks including stone, slate or sand.