Used primarily on blocks of land that slope downwards, a retaining wall is a structure designed to hold a patch of soil. Highly versatile, retaining walls are used for everything from small resident applications such as home gardens, to large commercial projects like stopping erosion on hillsides facing roads.
We take a comprehensive look at the different types of retaining walls and the types of retaining wall materials you can choose for your landscaping project.
The different types of retaining walls
The best retaining wall for landscapes
The Gravity retaining wall
The gravity retaining wall is one of the most common types of retaining wall and is considered the first of its kind to be created – in fact, there are numerous examples of gravity retaining walls being used throughout history. A gravity retaining wall relies on its own weight to resist earth pressure and is usually made by piling stones on top of one another. These wall systems make for popular roadside retaining walls, as they effectively stop loose dirt and rocks from falling onto the road. However, smaller versions of the gravity retaining wall are frequently used for gardens and are commonly made using sandstone bricks or stone.
The best retaining wall for large construction projects
Cantilever retaining wall
Composed of a stem and base slab of concrete, a cantilever retaining wall is the most common type of retaining wall used for commercial projects. The bottom of the cantilever wall is often imbedded deeply into the soil, which acts as a weight to stop the wall from sliding. Appearance wise, a cantilever retaining wall looks like a Toblerone chocolate – larger at the base, and narrow at the top.
Anchored retaining wall
Constructed using cables, anchored retaining walls are commonly used when a wall is not strong enough on its own, or an existing retaining wall is crumbling. Anchored retaining walls are great when it comes to controlling and preventing soil erosion and can withstand great loads due to the additional support offered by the cables.
Sheet piling walls can be used as both temporary and permanent retaining walls, and most often seen near bodies of water. Sheet piling is favourable as it’s quick to construct and can be reused for multiple projects. Unlike cantilever retaining walls, sheet piling doesn’t require any excavation. However, it’s not a good choice for areas with tricky terrain, as it’s tricky to install on top of cobbles and rocks.
Types of retaining wall materials
When it comes to choosing a retaining wall for your garden, thankfully the process of sorting your way through the different types of retaining wall materials is a lot easier. Though there are many options, the most common types of retaining wall materials used are the following:
Sandstone retaining wall
Cheaper than bricks and timber, sandstone is a popular way to add natural beauty to your garden bed. Sandstone offers a more modern feel without compromising on design and functionality. Unlike timber, sandstone comes in an array of different colours which makes it easier to customise. They can also be moulded into different shapes such as straight bricks or curved and can be broken into irregular shapes for a more natural look.
Timber retaining wall
For a cost effective retaining wall that oozes charm and class, look no further than a timber retaining wall. Of the different types of retaining walls available, timber is the easiest to install and is one of the most affordable options. Retaining walls made from timber typically last up to twenty-five years and will require retreating every so often.
Concrete sleeper retaining walls
Extremely low maintenance and easy to build with, concrete sleeper retaining walls are a fantastic alternative to timber as they can mimic the look of the material but offer more durability. Concrete sleeper retaining walls are highly customisable and are available in various shapes, sizes, styles and colours.
Stone retaining walls
A favourite for a reason, stone retaining walls offers timeless elegance and unrivalled natural beauty. Depending on how the natural stone is cut, stone can either be relatively cost effective or quite expensive. However, the added costs are worth it, as stone is not only built to last up to a hundred years, but it’s also shown to increase the value of the home.
We hope we’ve given you a good idea about the different types of retaining walls available to you. If you’d like to discuss creating your own retaining walls, please contact Award Winning Group and one of our friendly North Brisbane builders will get in touch soon