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grass or using ground cover like mulch or decorative gravel Let s take a look at each of these. alternatives to see which might work best for you,Retaining Walls. Retaining walls are common features in many landscapes They are frequently used around homes and. businesses and are built of a wide variety of materials In this section we will discuss some important. facts about retaining walls as well as the most common materials used in their construction. Important general information about retaining walls. Most walls over 48 tall require an engineered set of plans to build so try to stay under this. height whenever possible, Most areas require a railing for walls over 30 above ground level If the wall height is over 30. various methods can be utilized to offset the need for a rail This will be discussed later. Most areas also require a handrail if you have more than two consecutive steps leading from a. wall terrace or deck, Retaining walls are measured in units of square face feet length x height. For structural purposes most wall designs call for the bottom course of block to be completely. buried in the ground So don t forget to factor that into your estimates if you re calculating wall. A Brief Overview of Retaining Wall Materials,Interlocking Segmented Concrete Block. Over the past 5 10 years segmented walls have become the dominant retaining wall material used. around swimming pools in most areas Installation is relatively simple and most people find them. attractive The height of these walls range from six inches to sixty feet tall and they come in a wide. variety of sizes shapes and colors Construction consists of dry stacking the individual blocks together. to create one interlocked segment of wall Prices usually range from 40 65 per square face foot. depending on material selection and location,Advantages.
Good for construction in tight quarters and in limited access sites because of ease of handling. and transporting the individual blocks, Can easily be built to follow any free form pool or patio. Disadvantages, Requires geo grid A product that keeps the wall from falling forward by tying back into the. hill side This usually extends into the backfilled area a distance equal to the height of the wall. So if you have a 6 wall the geo grid would extend back from the wall 6 This is a problem if. the pool on this side of the wall is only 4 away, From a design perspective it necessitates the need for yet another type of material to pick out. You need another choice to make right,Interlocking concrete block retaining wall. Natural Stone or Brick on Cinder Block, This is your standard block and mortar wall on a concrete footing This type of wall is reinforced with.
rebar and by filling the block with grout or concrete The beauty of this type of structure is that you get. to choose the venire Natural stone brick or simple parging coating with mortar are common finishes. of these walls The cap or top of these walls are usually made of the same stone or brick or can be. constructed of poured concrete like demonstrated in the illustration below Construction typically takes. longer with this type of wall because of the detail oriented nature of the work so the price is usually a. little higher than a segmented block wall 35 60 per square face foot is common. Advantages, They afford wide design opportunities as you can customize the venire to meet your needs. No geo grid or tie back required as all stability comes from within the wall in most cases. Disadvantages, Price per sq ft tends to increase with free form designs. Pouring the concrete footing is a challenge and expensive on sites with limited access. Natural stone retaining wall with concrete cap,Turndown Slab Monolithic Pour. Imagine a yard that gently slopes downhill and a concrete slab that continues to stay level and gets. thicker and thicker as it moves out into the yard On the high side of the yard the slab is 4 thick and. on the low side it s 12 thick or however much the yard sloped in that distance This is a turndown slab. In my opinion this is the most underutilized method of dealing with minor slopes ranging from 12 24. If you re getting a concrete patio anyway why not take care of everything in one shot Compared to. other options it s quick relatively inexpensive and looks especially good with stamped concrete. because the side of the concrete can be textured Prices will vary dramatically but expect something in. the range of 18 25 per square face foot,Advantages. Blends seamlessly with patio because it is the patio. Eliminates chance of ground settling under concrete if done properly. Can curve to follow any pool or patio design,Disadvantages.
Not as effective an option for heights over 24 typically. Not an option for paver patios, When done with broom finish concrete this method can look a little drab but can easily be. dressed up with landscaping, This illustration of a turndown slab shows how the thickness of the pool deck increases in height as the yard slopes downhill. from the house This turndown slab is approximately 14 tall. Poured Concrete Walls, Poured concrete walls are built by setting wall forms in place then filling them with concrete This is. completed in lifts to insure the concrete is properly consolidated The forms are then stripped and. viola a wall Some forms are designed to make the concrete look like brick or stone some are flat. surfaces that you can leave as is or face with real stone or brick This option is usually best left to. contractors and typically not the best alternative for smaller walls 36 or less because of the high set. up cost of the wall forms For larger walls the price is usually equal to or slightly higher than the cost of. a plain cinder block wall The difference between a poured concrete wall and a turndown slab is that. the poured wall unlike the turndown is free standing and not connected with the patio. Advantages, Great for taller straight walls in tight quarters because they do not require any tie back. Great when incorporating steps into the wall because they can be constructed of poured. concrete as well,Disadvantages, Usually more expensive to build free form designs if possible at all depending on contractor.
Very expensive to build in restricted access lots because of difficulty in getting concrete to the. Poured concrete wall with recessed concrete steps, The most budget friendly of all retaining wall options Wood walls can be constructed of 6x6 s railroad. ties landscaped timbers or literally any type of treated lumber If these walls are over a height of 18. 24 they usually require some form of tie back into the hill side. Advantages, Can beautify any area when combined with planting beds or elevated to make bench seats. Can satisfy the needs of a tight budget when all of the other extra expenses are adding up. Disadvantages,Limited to straight runs with angles. Wood retaining wall built of 6x6 pressure treated lumber. Some other types of walls are, Dry Stacked Stone commonly used for smaller free standing walls around landscaping etc An. easy diy project, Mortared Stacked Stone used for smaller walls and can be built of literally any type of stone.
Now that we ve looked at the most popular retaining wall materials let s take a look at another critical. feature of any retaining wall design steps The following illustrations show the three most common. step configurations,Types of Retaining Wall Steps,Straight External. Straight external steps are most common and least expensive type of steps to build with retaining wall block. Wedding Cake Steps, Wedding Cake style steps add class and beauty to almost any setting The amount of labor required to construct this. configuration makes them more expensive than straight external steps. Recessed Steps, Recessed steps have several advantages They do not extend beyond the outside of the wall and therefore allow for. unobstructed traffic around the lower level The built in look of the steps is also very appealing to the eye and gives a feeling. of integration and permanence Two disadvantages are that they are the most expensive to build and they can increase the. distance required from the pool to the wall because of the space needed for the steps. Another important design function with retaining walls is the transition from the wall to the pool patio. Notice in the above pictures that there is a space between the retaining wall and the pool deck with the. exception of the area connected to the steps This serves several fundamental purposes First it. provides a buffer to keep people a safe distance from the edge of the wall Remember in most areas. you can be 30 above grade without a railing so building in cues to alert people of a change in elevation. is a good idea Second the open space allows water from the pool deck to filter down to the wall s. drainage system that was installed behind the wall during construction This keeps water from running. down the face of the wall which can result in stains discoloration or mildew Third the space allows. area for a landscaping which will break up the cold transition from pool deck to wall block and give a. softer and more attractive look This gap between the wall and patio can be as wide as you like but. keep in mind that as the width of the project increases so does the size and cost of your wall. Different Wall Configurations, Any site requiring a retaining wall begs the question Where do I put the wall Let s look at a few. Option 1 Building up and putting the wall in the back. Advantages, You can walk straight out onto pool deck from the house.
The top of wall can provide great place to install fence if your plan is to fence directly around the. Disadvantages, If wall is over 30 tall it will require a railing which is a view obstructer. Cost of gravel or other material to backfill between wall and pool can be very expensive. Option 2 Cutting down and putting the wall in the front. Advantages,Great view of pool from house, You have an opportunity to incorporate a majestic set of steps from the house leading down to. the pool deck,Disadvantages,Those steps come with a price tag. Drainage required at the base of the wall on pool side. Creating potential need for a railing and handrail. Option 3 Splitting the difference,Advantages,No railing or handrail required. No feeling of containment by a taller wall,Less site work required.
Disadvantages, Multiple walls are more expensive for two reasons First each requires a course of block buried. in the ground which increases your square footage And second because each requires its own. footing your labor cost is more than with a single wall. Two last points on retaining walls When you have a wall higher than 30 and you want to avoid the. need for a railing consider terracing the wall This can be pricey but it s well worth the effort if it allows. you to maintain a spectacular view Terracing is essentially building a double wall first the primary wall. that s higher than 30 then a shorter second wall built two or three feet away from it that reduces the. height discrepancy to less than the required amount Fill the gap between the two walls with. landscaping make sure your secondary wall is not higher than 30 and you ve eliminated the need for a. railing If that doesn t work for you consider backfilling against the backside of the wall so that less than. 30 of it is exposed That ll make Mr Inspector happy also. If you have more than two steps and want to eliminate the need for a handrail consider building a. series of landings instead of steps Normal step treads are 10 14 wide Try making each step its own. separate landing say 48 wide or better If you have the room this will make for a grand entry point and. also rid you of the unwanted handrail Don t forget our 30 rule This won t fly if these landings are too. far off the ground, As you know sometimes the use of retaining walls is inevitable However there are many instances. when just simply cutting down or building up an area with earth will do the trick Let s look at site work. as an option for dealing with sloping terrain, Site work simply consists of using earth to achieve an acceptable transition from a higher to a lower area. of a site This is commonly referred to as cutting and filling This method is typically very cost effective. and can be used to eliminate the need for a retaining wall Let s take a look at a couple of ways to utilize. site work as a means of dealing with a sloping yard. In this case the yard has a slope that falls about four feet from the back of the house to where the. opposite side of the pool will be Let s look at two ways of managing this slope using site work. Option 1 Building up on the low side, As you can see in this diagram the pool is set level with the grade at the house The far side of the pool. was built up approximately four feet In cases such as this two factors have a great impact on the. amount of dirt required to achieve an acceptable degree of slope. 1 the distance the patio extends into the yard, 2 The amount of flat ground around the outside of the patio before it begins to slope off.
Two great ways to spend what I call invisible money are to add patio to the downhill side of the yard. or to attempt to make a sloped yard flat You ll spend much of your hard earned money on dirt and get. nothing in return Try to work with your yard not against it In my estimation this site would require. to create one interlocked segment of wall Prices usually range from 40 65 per square face foot depending on material selection and location Advantages Good for construction in tight quarters and in limited access sites because of ease of handling and transporting the individual blocks

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