To understand how a retaining walls works, the first step is to know what a retaining wall is.
From the technical aspect, a retaining wall is a structure that is built to function as lateral pressure of the soil or retain materials from the soil. As simple as that.
Now that you understand what it is, we know that you are here because you want to know how a retaining wall works.
Retaining walls function as hard-working structures that wage a constant battle against gravity. Civil engineers use them to create usable roads. Retaining walls even work to provide environmental benefits, such as reducing erosion and protecting areas from becoming saturated.
Retaining walls can be a solution to a steep slope or sloping hillside that can add extra space for backyard or protect pathways and buildings.
How a retaining walls works?
Today retaining walls function as landscaping tools to help homeowners overcome sloping areas. They often have visual interest in addition to serving a functional purpose.
Before building a retaining wall, it is best to test the soil in the area where the retaining wall is planned to be built. Taking into account the climate of the city and the terrain, to know if it can be done for yourself or if you need professional help for installing a retaining wall.
Retaining walls are designed to contain soil, or engineered fill, at an angle steeper than the material’s angle of repose. To do this, they must be able to withstand the horizontal -or lateral- thrust of the ground, exerted by the retained material.
The lateral pressure of the earth depends on the vertical stress imposed by the material behind the wall, which is a function of the height of the fill and its density.
It follows, then, that the greatest lateral earth pressure is exerted at the base of the wall, because the deeper the fill, the greater the vertical stress.
Types of lateral earth pressure
There are three types of lateral earth pressure: Earth Pressure at Rest: When the wall is ‘at rest’ and the fill has not experienced significant post-construction movement
Active earth pressure: If the wall moves away from the fill, the lateral earth pressure decreases until it reaches a minimum. This is the active earth pressure; beyond that point, a fault will occur.
Passive thrust: if the wall moves towards the fill, the thrust increases until it reaches a maximum value, equal to the maximum resistance of the soil: it is the passive thrust. In recessed walls, typically used for basements, passive soil pressure is an important factor in stability.
If you want to install a retaining wall in your garden, patio, surroundings or entrance. Contact us immediately to receive an estimated price (we send you the estimate totally free).