Structural retaining walls are designed or engineered free standing walls used to restrain soil. They are most often used to hold back steep hillsides to prevent erosion or to open up previously unusable space. A well constructed retaining wall can be imperative to create a level lawn, widen space to put in a driveway, or tame a difficult to maintain hillside.
The strength of a retaining wall system makes it invaluable for landscaping. However, they are not perfect solutions on their own. The incredible amount of horizontal pressure from the soil, known as lateral earth pressure, that the retaining wall blocks are able to control can be maxed out by the addition of water. Water in the soil behind the wall can cause a buildup of hydrostatic pressure which pushes out on the wall and causes it to fail. (This is the top reason for a retaining wall to collapse.) Our landscape designer will include proper drainage structures in your retaining wall design to ensure that water is moved away and your retaining wall remains standing.
Michigan and Indiana, retaining walls are divided into two categories based on height. Walls under four feet may be designed and constructed by landscape contractors alone. For retaining walls over four feet in height, landscapers must partner with an engineer who will design the retaining wall and develop structural engineering plans. The design and plans must be submitted to the local municipality to obtain a building permit to authorize construction. In either case, Upstream Waters Landscape has the experience and engineering partnerships to oversee the appropriate process for the installation of your retaining wall.
Today's retaining walls are a wonderful marriage of form and function. They allow previously unusable areas to be transformed into valuable outdoor living spaces and, with the variety of retaining wall blocks available for retaining wall systems, can be matched to almost any design style. Yet, always remember that however beautiful these walls may ultimately be, they are powerful structures that must be composed of the proper materials and constructed as required by law. Upstream Waters Landscape can be your trusted contractor for a retaining wall that maintains both beauty and integrity for many decades to come.