Several measures can be taken to ensure that your new retaining wall does not fail prematurely. This article discusses some key considerations that you should bear in mind as you plan to construct a retaining wall from concrete blocks.
The Frost Line
The footings or base of your concrete retaining wall play an important role in enabling that wall to resist the forces, such as frost heave, that will be acting upon it. You should therefore find out what the frost line in your area is before you start putting up the retaining wall. Ensure that you install the footings or gravel base below the frost line so that your new retaining wall will not heave or fail due to frost heave.
Different locations have differing drainage needs that influence how retaining walls in those areas should be built. For instance, a location with clay soils is likely to need more drainage facilities when compared to a location that is dominated by sandy soils. Make sure that you pour a gravel base for the retaining wall in order to boost drainage. A perforated pipe should also be placed on the gravel base so that water can easily drain through the backfill instead of adding weight onto the retaining wall.
Retaining walls should be as limited in height as possible so that you minimise the enormity of the pressure that they will have to withstand. For instance, avoid constructing a wall that is higher than four feet. Higher walls may require additional structural support or bracing in order to prevent them from bulging or breaking due to the excessive weight exerted upon them by the soil that they are holding back. You may also consider building shorter walls that are arranged in staggered levels or terraces so that each wall section is only exposed to a limited magnitude of pressure from the soil that is pushing back against it.
Care needs to be taken to keep concrete blocks free from foreign objects that may hinder effective bonding between the different blocks. You should therefore ask someone to help you to check each of the blocks when the blocks are delivered at your site. Sort any cracked blocks and ask the supplier to replace them. Additionally, that helper should sweep each block as you construct the retaining wall. Any pebbles or small objects on those blocks may weaken the structure.
As you can see, careful thought needs to go into the design and construction of a concrete retaining wall. Hire a professional to handle that work in case you lack the experience in handling all the issues above properly.