Retaining wall with a slope below it


Old 10-06-14, 12:17 PM
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Retaining wall with a slope below it

My front yard is one steady slope from the house down to the sidewalk. I'm going to be building three retaining walls 16" tall starting in the middle of the yard and going up towards the house and leaving the bottom still sloping. The slope is 1' over 4.5'.

With my flat backyard, I buried one course of blocks when I placed a retaining wall back there. For the frontyard wall, I'm wondering if I need to bury a second course or add extra base material or something.

I have incentive to not dig more than necessary. There is the cost of the additional blocks, there are the utilities (gas is marked, water and sewer are not), the irrigation lines that will have to be rerouted, and past the 8" range there is likely going to be some hardpan. Each wall is 60' long, so this goes from a lot of work to something monumental. I need to do it right, but if there's anything else I can do besides just dig deeper as a solution, I'd love to know about it as well.

Second quick question about batter. Does batter refer to the blocks being placed slightly behind each other as you stand consecutive rows, or does it refer to the blocks themselves being tilted slightly backwards? These blocks don't have lips for alignment, so I want to make sure I get the batter correct.

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Old 10-06-14, 05:03 PM
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It sounds like you have some sort of landscaping blocks (smooth, flat tops and bottoms) and not real retaining wall block that have a means provide a batter into the wall (usually a lip on the top front or bottom rear).

If this is the case, those landscaping block will not work unless you lay them with a slant or batter back into the higher ground to get some strength for the wall.

I you used real retaining walls block, you could so it with 1 or 2 walls and not 3 and still be stronger. - Possibly this is not an appearance you want. There are many different retaining wall block systems in different heights ( 3-5/8" to 7-5/8") and surfaces if you look around.

If you do not have any freezing in your part of CA, you might get away with landscape block, but if you have frequent rain or freezing, a retaining wall block would be much better.

Virtually every area in the country or utility has a number that you can call to get ALL utilities marked within 48 hours or so. This will allieve any concerns about possible burried lines.

Old 10-08-14, 02:25 PM
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My understanding is that the lip on the retaining wall blocks is primarily to make placing the blocks with a proper setback easier and faster, but it is not a major factor in the strength of the wall. At worst, a small dab of flexible landscape adhesive would do the job at least as well. No ground freezing here.

The main thing I'm wondering about is the depth of the first course of blocks. Given that there is a slope below the wall, I'm sure I need to bury at least one full course. Do you have any references for how deep that first course needs to be?

Also, are batter and setback different terms for the same thing or are they different? Thanks.

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