Q&A – Retaining Wall

Thought I’d share my answer to a recent query.

Q: I live in Connecticut and we have no shortage of stone to work with. I am starting to build a retaining wall that will be about 54″ tall, I have a good base and have a couple of questions that maybe if you have time you could help me with. I know to have batter on the front side of the wall, my question is the earth side, do I make the earth side parallel to the front, batter towards the front, like a free standing wall, or some books I have read suggest that the bottom third be built like a free standing wall and then the rest is parallel to the front. I plan on using some tie stones to anchor the wall to the earth it retains. I plan on the base course being level and having plenty 1:5, or 1:6 batter, am I on the right track?

A:The profile of the retaining walls I build tend to have a 1:6 batter on the face and 1:4 on the back. The back face is nothing beautiful but it is built with the same principles that are applied to the front. On a 54″ tall wall the base might be 3.5′ wide and the top 1.5′ wide.

Have fun building.

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2 Responses to Q&A – Retaining Wall

  1. Dan May 11, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Hi Dean,
    Yes, 1:4 would be one inch in per 4 inches up, or, said another way;
    3″ in for every foot of wall height. Laying stone by standing on the front side of the retaining wall means that the back half is built “blind.” You can’t really see the back face as the wall goes up, so it’s built by feel. No guide lines are used. The stronger batter is more forgiving of the looser construction.

    Also, as the wall rises it’s more difficult to reach as far back on the construction. When its only at shin height it’s easy enough to step onto the construction to set back stones.

    In residential work, most retaining wall tops are 18″ wide, or less. Therefore, the body of the wall, under the tops, need only be 18″. To determine the width of the base of a wall, I start with the required width at the top, and add 5″ (front and back batter) for
    every foot of planned wall height.


  2. Dean McLellan May 9, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Interesting topic here, and a great idea to post it on the blog. Let me ask if I may, why the batter on the back side of the wall? Is it one inch in per 4 inches up? Thanks Dean.

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