Tips for Building Long-Lasting Retaining Walls in Harrisburg, PA

Chosen for their functionality and admired for their workmanship and stability, retaining walls are meant to endure. Done right, using quality materials, retaining walls should last for a very long time. Using the right equipment and technique can make sure that the masonry retaining walls you create in Harrisburg, PA, will indeed last for years to come.

Considerations and Preparation

There are quite a few different factors to consider when figuring out how and where to build a retaining wall. If a retaining wall is done correctly, it will be able to withstand the forces of gravity and the pressure from the land around the wall. This means the wall needs to not only be the proper build specifications, but it must also be made of quality material.


After taking these factors into consideration, it is time to look at the job site and consider a few factors that could affect the build. You should first be looking for different types of soil that will either help or hinder the build process. Good base layers consist of granular, coarse grains and rough soil. Clay and other organic materials need to be removed. These types of soils will compress over time, which could eventually compromise the structure of the retaining wall. Granular is the optimal soil type, which includes sands and gravel. This type of soil does not compress, so it can assist in keeping the wall stronger, longer. If clay is unavoidable, then a geogrid must be used to counteract the effects. If you are unsure about the safety or quality of the soil, then a surveyor could help you make a more detailed evaluation.

Tips for Building Long-Lasting Retaining Walls in Harrisburg, PA

The Build Process

From the trench process to setting capstones, retaining walls may seem easy for experienced builders to construct, but they do require an eye for detail to perfect. You must first make sure the trench you are digging is wide and deep enough to completely bury one full layer of the retaining wall as well as 6 to 8 inches of base material. If a special drainage system is needed, make sure to leave room for that, too. The base layer is often considered the most important because it is the one that will affect the rest of the wall if it is slightly not level. You’ll want to use a torpedo level to check the level of the blocks and a rubber mallet to set the blocks into their proper position. After this first course, a crucial step is to brush off the top of each layer as you build. If there is any debris left between the layers of the wall, then the imperfection will become more prominent as you reach the top. Before finishing your layers of the retaining wall, be sure to install the appropriate drainage system according to the amount of rainfall in the area.


Finishing Up

As you are finishing up, there are a few things that can be done to finalize the build. Make sure all of your butt joints of the stones are as close as possible. If there is any gap left open, it could leave room for unwanted water and sediment build-up. When backfilling the wall, make sure you are compacting the angular stone you are using to backfill. This will stop it from settling after the topsoil is reapplied. Remember to leave about 8 to 10 inches for the topsoil and turf to create a flush finish.