Large unit retaining wall blocks,backyard designs landscape,carol lumm the architects collaborative,flower beds landscape timbers - 2016 Feature

01.09.2015
The development of interlocking concrete retaining wall units has led to an expanded number of options for landscape architects and engineers. The following introduction to retaining wall products and anchoring systems is based on text supplied by the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA).
With the photos that accompany it here, the article attempts to supply common information that applies to all retaining wall designs.
This open-faced interlocking wall design is an economical choice often utilized by state departments of transportation.
Segmental retaining walls (SRWs) are gravity retaining walls that rely primarily on their mass (weight) for strength and stability.
Segmental retaining walls are flexible structures, so the footing does not need to be placed below the frost line, provided there is sufficient foundation-bearing capacity. This Minnesota wall is built of block units of varying sizes, which helps create a more organic, hand-built appearance. The SRW system is composed of units whose size and weight makes it possible to construct walls in the most difficult of locations. Since SRW units are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, textures and colors, segmental retaining walls provide designers and owners with both an attractive and a structurally sound wall system. Retaining wall blocks come with a number of shapes and anchoring systems that grows each year. Manufacturers of retaining wall units incorporate different features to increase shear strength and slip resistance. The basic elements of each segmental retaining wall system are the foundation soil, leveling pad, segmental retaining wall units, retained soil and drainage fill.
Leveling pad: The leveling pad is a level surface, consisting of crushed stone or unreinforced concrete, which distributes the weight of the SRW units over a wider area and provides a working surface during construction.
Segmental retaining wall units: Segmental retaining wall units are concrete masonry units that are used to create the mass necessary for structural stability, and to provide stability, durability, and visual enhancement at the face of the wall. Retained soil: Retained soil is the undisturbed soil for cut walls or the common backfill soil compacted behind infill soils. Drainage fill: Drainage fill is free-draining granular material placed behind the wall to facilitate the removal of groundwater and minimize buildup of hydrostatic pressure on the wall. Reinforced soil: Reinforced soil is compacted structural fill used behind soil-reinforced SRW units which contains horizontal soil reinforcement. This is not a segmental retaining wall, but a 7-foot-high wall built of local stone and two-foot-thick reinforced concrete.
Typical designs and specifications for segmental retaining walls should be prepared by an engineer or landscape architect who has technical knowledge of soil and structural mechanics. Guide specifications for segmental retaining walls are available in standard Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) format in the Design Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls. This type of specification requires one source, experienced in the design and construction of SRWs, to be responsible for the wall and assures it will be built economically due to competition. The success of any segmental retaining wall installation depends on complete and accurate field information, careful planning and scheduling, the use of specified materials, proper construction procedures, and inspection.


There are several different brands of prefabricated concrete blocks on the market in a variety of shapes, textures, and colors. Some brands also have cap units, which are smaller blocks that go along the top of the wall. The blocks can be stained to match any color imaginable–so it can fit seamlessly into your design and the natural surroundings of the landscape.
The precast modular block is available in a smooth textured finished and more the aesthetically pleasing cobblestone textured finish. Cantilever wall systems are typically large “L type units with” an extended footing on the front side of the wall.
LHV Precast can custom manufacture high quality cantilever retaining walls that are precast using reinforced concrete. The blocks seen here employ fiberglass pins for reinforcement, and can be used for retaining walls, planter beds, tree rings, steps, amphitheaters, etc.
Learning more about what’s out there is a necessary first step to choosing wisely when it comes to wall units for a specific project, budget and site. The system consists of concrete masonry units which are placed without the use of mortar (dry stacked), and which rely on a combination of mechanical interlock, unit-to-unit friction or shear capacity and mass to prevent overturning and sliding. SRW units are manufactured in conformance with standards and specifications to assure that units delivered to a project are uniform in weight, dimensional tolerances, strength, and durability—features not necessarily provided in site-cast materials. The structural capacity of the SRW system will vary with the SRW unit size, shape, batter, etc. Terraces spread out the forces that can cause a vertical wall to fail, while providing opportunities for plantings. A reinforced soil SRW is designed and constructed with multiple layers of soil reinforcement placed between the SRW courses and extending back into the soil behind the wall at designated heights and lengths.
It is sometimes also used to fill the cores of the units to increase the weight and shear capacity.
This wall dates to the 1940s and holds back scree slopes to create parking at Mount Baldy ski resort above Los Angeles, Calif.
Each SRW unit manufacturer can provide design information tailored to that product, which will indicate the wall heights and design conditions when an SRW should be designed by a qualified engineer. Ends of the wall should be designed with consideration of how surface water flow is directed around the wall ends to prevent erosion. It is good practice to have the retaining wall location verified by the owner’s representative. Taller walls need larger, heavier blocks, which usually measure approximately 6" x 18" x 12" and weigh 80 to 90 pounds.
Drain tile should be installed when walls exceed 3' in height, are tiered, or installed in soils that retain water.
The second and subsequent courses should be set back into the hill to provide strength for the wall. Continue adding each course, being sure to backfill with drainage aggregate against the wall.


The Stone Strong Engineered Retaining Wall Systems’ have revolutionized Big Block Technology because it is the fastest, most affordable way to build the strongest, highest-quality gravity retaining walls. Ideal applications include affordable retaining walls, landscaping walls, durable privacy walls, sound barriers and industrial gated entrances. Small-block walls like these can contain significant slopes when built in stepped configurations, but many state and local ordinances regulate the size and height of un-engineered walls.Photo courtesy of Keystone Retaining Wall Systems, Inc. The units may also be used in combination with horizontal layers of soil reinforcement which extend into the backfill to increase the effective width and weight of the gravity mass. Segmental retaining walls have the ability to function equally well in large-scale applications (highway walls, bridge abutments, erosion control, parking area supports, etc.) as well as smaller residential landscape projects. A variety of erosion-control and water feature hardware can be paired with most wall block products.Photo courtesy of Keystone Retaining Wall Systems, Inc. Since the system consists of individual units dry stacked one atop another, shear capacity is an important component to assure that the units act together as a coherent mass. The geosynthetic (fiber mat) reinforcement and the soil in the reinforced zone acts as a composite material, effectively increasing the size and weight of the gravity wall system. The dry stacked method of construction used for segmental retaining walls permits water to drain through the face of the wall, aiding in the removal of groundwater. The end-result specification can be used to solicit proposals from various segmental retaining wall suppliers. Each brand has its own way of connecting the blocks together, but the general method of building modular walls is the same. Short walls (under 3 feet) can be built with smaller blocks, often called half-unit blocks, which measure approximately 6" x 8" x 12" and weigh 40 pounds. A 4" perforated drain tile should be installed on top of the compacted base, behind the wall and covered on all sides by the drainage aggregate. Planting between blocks is only possible in very low walls where drainage aggregate is not necessary. The trench should be wide enough to allow 2-3" of compacted base on the front and 6-8" on the back side of each block.
If the blocks you are using require connecting pins, insert them into the first course and set the second course over the pins. The multiple depths of units increase the weight of the wall system and provide a more stable base and greater resistance to soil pressures created by gravity. The first row of blocks will be below grade to provide stability and strength for the wall. Read the manufacturer's specifications carefully to determine the minimum radius for the block you are using.



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