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Retaining walls are a great way to split up a sloping block, raise a garden bed, or even make a feature. Also, determining the rate of movement of a retaining wall is impossible from a one-time visit. Once retaining walls begin to move, they rarely stop, although movement may be slow and seasonal. Looking at a cross-section through the wall, the wall would look like an inverted “T.” The bottom portion of the inverted “T” is buried beneath the soil.

The portion of the “T” under the high side of the wall uses the weight of the soil to resist movement of the wall.
The portion of the “T” protruding under the soil on the low side of the wall keeps it from tilting forward. Cantilevered retaining walls extend below the frost line in cold climates to prevent heaving.Pile wallsPiles walls have vertical members driven into the soil.
Open-wall systems with wood timbers, for example, have enough natural openings that drainage holes are not needed.Minor repairs to retaining walls can be done by the homeowner.

Retaining walls are often poorly built and can be very expensive to repair or replace.From “The Home Reference Book, the Encyclopedia of Homes” by Carson Dunlop.

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Retaining wall reinforcement grid

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