Two Mistakes Homeowners Make When Building Retaining Walls in Their Gardens

20 August 2020
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


When building retaining walls, these are the two errors homeowners are inclined to make.

Not informing their contractor of their plans to plant trees on the sloping ground behind the wall

The biggest error that a homeowner can make when having this wall built is not bothering to let their contractor know that they plan to plant trees on the sloping soil that this structure is going to have to support. This can shorten the retaining wall's lifespan considerably.

A contractor will calculate the estimated load a retaining wall will have to bear based partly on the volume of soil and the size of any existing trees on the gradient above it. They will then use these calculations when deciding how to design the wall in order to ensure that it will be able to keep the ground above it stable.

If the homeowner intends to plant a tree that, when fully grown, will drastically increase the load the retaining wall has to bear and they don't tell the contractor about their plans to do this, the wall the contractor builds won't be designed to support that high load and might start to fall apart as the tree that's planted on the ground above it starts to get bigger. Given this, homeowners must inform their contractor of any plans they have to add new trees to the soil that the wall will be supporting.

Placing immovable structures directly in front of their retaining wall

After their contractor has built their retaining wall, homeowners will often then decide to erect immovable structures (such as permanent water fountain with a foundation or a garden pond) directly in front of their new wall. They may decide to do this if there is another property at the top of the sloping ground which overlooks their home (as in this situation, putting a tall structure in front of the retaining wall would provide some extra privacy) or if the ground that slopes upward from the retaining wall is a bit bare and drab and they feel that adding a pond or a fountain would make the area look better.

Putting structures like this in front of their wall after building it can cause several problems. For example, as time goes on, sections of the wall might deteriorate and this deterioration might not be detected for months or years due to the fact that the structure in front of the wall is obscuring the damage. This might mean that by the time someone discovers the wall's issues, the damage might be quite severe and require a lot of resources to resolve.

Secondly, the presence of permanent structures directly in front of the retaining wall might also make it hard for contractors to access the deteriorating part of it. If there is a pond in front of it, for example, they might have to drain it and remove the section of it that is closest to the retaining wall so that they can access the wall. As such, it is best for homeowners to only put moveable structures in front of these types of walls.

For more information, contact a retaining wall contractor.