retaining wall landscape construction salt lake city

5 Common Problems When Constructing a Paver Retaining Wall

Posted : November 1, 2020

Some people see retaining walls as a quick and easy DIY landscape construction project that can be done in a single weekend, and perhaps you can do it if you have the right amount of help and the proper tools, but failing to prepare for and resolve these issues can cause unplanned problems for your retaining wall.

1 – Installation Can Be Difficult

Installation of a retaining wall, especially one that is constructed on a slope, is harder than it looks. It involves a lot of digging, precise measurements, careful leveling of the foundation and stones as you construct it. You will also need a lot of paving stones to construct a retaining wall which can be a challenge if you need to move them to the retaining wall location yourself.

Example of a retaining wall landscape construction in Salt Lake City

2 – Special Equipment is Needed

Most of the equipment you need to build a retaining wall is pretty standard: shovels, levels, rakes, hammers, and brooms. But other equipment may not be in your workshop and may need to be purchased:

  • Hand tamper–to tamp down the dirt, gravel, and masonry sand at the base of the wall
  • Mason’s level–a long level used to make sure that each row of pavers is level across the length of the wall
  • Stone chisel–for breaking the concrete pavers when necessary
  • Circular saw with a masonry blade–for concrete paver parts that require precise cuts

3 – Insufficient Foundation for Retaining Wall

If you do not take care to make sure the shallow trench you dig for the base of the wall is tamped down and made perfectly level using gravel and masonry sand before laying your first row of pavers, each row above that one will be a little more “off” than the first one, which can be a considerable issue in walls that have a lot of rows. This may create walls that appear lopsided or lean too far in one direction or the other.

4 – Poor Drainage Causes Problems

One of the most common problems with retaining walls is when a retaining wall does not provide any drainage for wet soil. Wet soil is heavier and puts more pressure on the pavers that make up the wall. In order to mitigate this, backfill the area directly behind the bricks with crushed stone and gravel and install drain tile in order to channel excess water away from the wall itself.

5 – Wall Built on a Slope not Done Properly

Most retaining walls are built on a slope of some kind, and in these cases, the wall should never slope with the ground, but instead remain level. To accommodate the change in slope, you need to construct “steps” in the soil and not follow the slope of the hill (even underground). This helps make sure the pavers along the wall remain level.

Does This Project Seem Overwhelming or too Time Consuming?

It might be. In these cases, why not hire a landscape construction company to help you build your retaining wall. At Aeroscape, we are licensed and insured with over 15 years of residential and commercial landscape design and maintenance experience serving Salt Lake City, Midvale, West Valley City, and surrounding areas. We provide a comprehensive package of landscaping and hardscaping services to protect your investment. To learn more, give us a call at (801) 567-2383 or click on our Contact an Expert green arrow on any page of our website to speak with one of our landscape experts today.