All About The Landscape Daily

Waterproofing A Retaining Wall

Apr 5

How to Build a Waterproof Retaining Wall: A Step-By-Step Guide

A retaining wall can be helpful for practical and aesthetic reasons, either to terrace a sloping site, create usable space, or simply add profile and interest to an otherwise flat and featureless garden. Regardless of the reason for its construction, however, a retaining wall must be well built to remain intact, safe and trouble-free.

There is a high percentage of sloping land in Australia, which can be challenging when designing gardens with usable space. Knowing how to construct a sturdy, long-lasting retaining wall may be a tremendous asset for any homeowner or budding gardener.

Read on for some practical tips on designing, building, and waterproofing a retaining wall and information on the issues that can arise if the wall isn't built correctly.


What is a retaining wall?

As the name suggests, when there is a drastic elevation change, a retaining wall holds the soil to the side and prevents it from spilling over onto the level below. Retaining walls can range from simple raised beds to large walls several feet high that are built to prevent erosion, divert water and prevent landslides.

A retaining wall is usually needed when a slope has lost its natural integrity or is made of naturally unstable gravel or sand. 


Types of retaining walls

The materials from which retaining walls are made vary significantly. The different types of retaining walls include:

  • A rock wall is a large wall made of stones and boulders that use the existing natural slope but at a less acute angle. It can be sewn with natural vegetation to increase strength and erosion control.
  • Sleeper wall - one of the most famous walls due to its cost, advantages and ease of installation. However, wood rots over time, so concrete sleepers may be a more durable option.
  • Masonry wall - a crushed stone or concrete base on which layers of plastered blocks or bricks are stacked and topped with a finished capping plaster. These walls can be built higher than other retaining walls but require a solid foundation and good drainage.
  • Gabion Wall - Crushed stone, rock, or pebbles are carefully selected and placed into reinforced steel cages (similar to a dry stone wall in a cage). These walls are highly porous, making them ideal for drainage or soil problems sites.
  • Dry stone wall - a mortarless retaining wall constructed of carefully selected rocks and stones. It requires a vast base to provide strength and stability (at least one-third the height of the wall).


How is a retaining wall waterproofed?

Waterproofing a retaining wall is an important aspect of any building project, and if not correctly designed and executed, it can become a dangerous hazard.

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