Retaining Walls


This page is not intended to be a substitute for professional geotechnical advice and should not be relied on as geotechnical advice by individuals or other professionals to make site-specific decisions. Always seek advice from a professional geotechnical engineer.

A retaining wall is affected by various factors since it holds soil behind it. For example, it is affected by lateral earth pressure. The popular types of retaining walls include gravity, semi-gravity and cantilever. The nature of the soil plays a vital role in ensuring the wall is built right. The basic parameters of the soil include unit weight, angle of friction and cohesion. The design of this type of wall depends on the basic soil parameters, lateral pressure and individual component strength.


Earth Retaining Structures

An Earth retaining structure is one that is specially constructed to hold back soil. This type of structure will have a difference in the ground elevation. It is usually built to withstand the forces exerted by the retained ground. BHM Geotechnical is a geotechnical engineering and environmental firm.

We have the expertise and resources to perform technical analysis and overcome complex challenges to do so. We provide an accurate geotechnical and environmental assessment to ensure our clients have more clarity. BHM can provide assistance in many ways like 2D & 3D complex modelling & analysis, assessment of the bearing capacity, foundation and trench stability, hydraulic conductivity and more.


Factors to Consider When Building a Retaining Wall

There are several factors to consider prior to building a retaining wall besides the material. Some of the obvious factors include the location since if it is one a slope there are additional factors that might affect it. It is important to consider surcharge load, drainage patterns, excess soil issues if the wall is on a slope. A gravity wall is specially built to resist pressure from behind and uses its own weight for this purpose. Here are some of the factors one should consider:

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    A strong foundation is essential even for a retaining wall. It is important to assess the trench stability since the soil will exert a lot of pressure on the wall. Failing to do so can result in collapse of the wall and waste of time and money.

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    Lateral Earth pressure that is exerted by the soil in the horizontal direction.

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    Additional forces exerted by the Earth include surcharge load, earthquake load and water pressure.

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    APassive Earth pressure also plays a major factor and is something that occurs when the wall is pushed into the soil. This is also referred to as the lateral bearing capacity.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Lateral earth pressure?

This is the pressure that the soil exerts in the horizontal direction.


2.What is Lateral bearing capacity?

This is the capacity of the soil to support the loads applied in the horizontal direction


3.What are anchors used for?

This type of wall will usually have a 'T' anchor extending back into the slope and into the Earth. It is specially designed to resist pressure. 


4. What is a gravity retaining wall?

This type of wall relies on the walls self weight to ensure stability and as results will likely use significant amount of concrete


5. What is a Cantilever retaining wall?

This type of wall is built from reinforced concrete and will consist of a horizontal footing and vertical stem wall.