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What is a Retaining Wall and its advantages?

Retaining Wall

Table of Contents

What is a Retaining Wall? 

Gravity Retaining Walls 

Cantilever Retaining Wall 

Counterfort Retaining Wall 

Application of Retaining Wall

Importance of Geo-synthesis on Retaining Wall

What is a Retaining Wall? 

Supporting soil laterally by means of retaining walls allows it to be held in place at differing elevations on both sides. Structures built to hold soil in place on a slope that it wouldn't naturally maintain are called retaining walls (typically a steep, near-vertical or vertical slope).

retaining wall

Often in parts of terrain with undesired slopes or in locations where the landscape infrastructure is constructed for specialized reasons like hillside farming or elevated roadways, they are utilized to bind soils between two distinct elevational levels. A seawall or bulkhead is a type of retaining wall that holds soil on one side while keeping water on the other.

In order to prevent collapse, slippage, or erosion, retaining walls are built vertically or near-vertical to keep material on one side of the wall. As a result, they stabilize terrain that would otherwise break down into a natural shape if the angle of repose was surpassed. It is essential for a retaining wall to resist the pressure imposed on it by the earth it is holding back.

Retaining walls must be designed and constructed with the recognition and mitigation of the retained material's natural inclination to slide downward owing to gravity. The retained material's cohesive strength and angle of internal friction both are affected by the amplitude and direction of movement in the retaining structure, which results in lateral pressure behind the wall.

Lateral earth pressures are zero at the top and grow proportionately to an extreme value at the lowest depth of the inhomogeneous ground. If the problem isn't solved, earth forces will cause the wall to move forward or perhaps topple. Hydrostatic pressure on the wall is also caused by any undrained groundwater in the rear of the wall. For longitudinal sections of constant height, the whole pressure can be considered to act at a third of the lowest depth.

In order to keep the strain on the wall's design value as low as possible, an effective drainage system at the back of the wall is essential. The hydrostatic pressure at the back of the wall will be reduced or eliminated thanks to drainage materials.

Retaining walls made of drystone are usually self-draining. Retaining walls, for example, must meet the International Building Code's requirements for structural stability against lateral sliding, overturning, excessive foundation pressure, and water uplift, with a factor of safety of 1.5.

Gravity Retaining Walls 

Gravity walls rely on their own weight and any soil that rests on the concrete to withstand lateral earth pressures. For cast concrete constructions, they are typically cost-effective up to a height of 10 feet.

Usually, have enough bulk to be used without reinforcement. The majority of monolithic cast walls are built on site. A semi-gravity retaining wall is a customized gravity wall. To keep the wall from becoming too thick, some tension reinforcing steel has been included in them. It's a combination of gravity walls and cantilever walls.

bridge pier

Cantilever Retaining Wall 

Reinforced concrete is used in the construction of cantilever walls. These structures are made up of a narrow stem and a thick slab at the bottom of the structure. The heel and toe are likewise two separate sections of the foundation. It is the section of the foundation beneath the backfill that is called the heel. The opposite end of the foot is called the toe.

  • Concrete is used far less than in monolithic gravity walls, but careful planning and construction are required.
  • Cheapest when used for short-term projects under 25 ft.
  • Formed on-site or precast in a factory

Counterfort Retaining Wall 

Cantilever walls are comparable to counterfort retaining walls, except counterfort retaining walls contain thin vertical concrete webs along the length of the wall at regular intervals. Counterforts are the technical term for these webs.

The counterforts serve to minimize the soil's shear and bending moments by connecting the slab and foundation together. The additional concrete also has the side effect of increasing the wall's weight.

Precast or on-site formation options are available.

For wall heights of more than 25 feet, counterfort retaining walls are normally more cost-effective than other wall types of cantilever walls.

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Application of Retaining Wall

In addition to preventing soil erosion and transforming steep terrain into useable beds, retaining walls are also used to enhance the aesthetics of a landscape. They can stand alone or be a component of a larger construction project like a building.

Importance of Geo-synthesis on Retaining Wall

It is commonly known that construction businesses are benefiting from the advancements in global building technology and materials.

"Geo-synthetic retaining walls" are an alternative to reinforced concrete barriers. Geo-synthetic reinforced soil retaining walls are comprised of geogrid layers at the base of the soil layers, facing components, and then conventional reinforced concrete retaining walls.

 After conducting a thorough analysis, it was found that geosynthetic retaining walls have more benefits than standard concrete walls when it comes to cost and duration of construction, as well as the usage of resources and labour.

Between the wall courses and into the soil behind a wall, a geosynthetic material known as geogrid is put. Geotextile reinforcement is designed to strengthen the stability and bulk of a wall structure, as well as stabilize the soil.

Stabilizing the ground with geosynthetics is a synthetic substance. Civil engineering challenges are typically solved with polymeric products. Because of their perfect polymeric composition, they may be used in the ground in places where long-term durability is necessary. Exposure applications can also benefit from their utilization.


I hope the blog provides you with a sound understanding of the Retaining walls, their types and their associated features.

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