Retaining walls can be a major addition to any outdoor space, providing horizontal support for raised areas of earth and allowing you to create flat spaces on hills or other slanted areas. However, not all designs are equal, with both personal preference and the landscape itself changing your options.
One of the most complex things to approach is a curved retaining wall, which needs to be designed in a specific way to offer the right kind of support for the raised area behind it. If you do not know how to build a curved retaining wall, then figuring out the options you have available can be an important step in designing the space you want.
Convex Walls vs. Concave Walls
Convex walls (ones that curve outwards) often need to be built like a regular retaining wall would. However, unlike a simple straight wall, the curved variant needs to be built from the middle outwards – something that can be hard to figure out if you are not experienced at building them.
This often relies on you using specialized tools and materials to lay out a general plan of how the space curves, usually by using pipes or frames that can be linked together in a curve. This kind of wall can be incredibly hard to design without a plan since all of the weight is hitting the very middle of the wall.
Concave walls are the opposite and curve inwards. This is handled in roughly the same way, only with the entire design curving in the opposite direction. As such, all of the pressure and weight is distributed differently, requiring some extra steps to correct for the weight of the earth it will be supporting.
These are not easy plans and calculations to handle yourself. A large part of making these designs work involves going to a specialist or experienced third-party company that knows how to plan out curved retaining walls accurately. The fewer mistakes you make, the better.
The materials you use in the construction of your curved retaining walls need to be chosen very carefully since different materials are meant to be used in different ways. There is no perfect choice for each situation, especially not if you value style and aesthetics, but some are going to offer better practical results than others.
Understanding how to build a curved retaining wall well involves knowing the materials that you are using, and most curved retaining walls are going to have areas that are under a lot of horizontal pressure. This means that you need to know which options are going to have the best results.
For example, concrete curved retaining wall blocks can offer some of the strongest and most reliable results on the market, as well as easy installation. However, they need to be custom-designed to match each wall, and this can take a long time to prepare.
Your other options include materials like natural stone (strong and lightweight but costly) and fully synthetic materials (weaker but often much cheaper), or even bricks (abundant and eco-friendly, as well as durable, but very hard to repair). Choosing the right material is not easy, so talk with a specialist if you are stuck between multiple options.
A retaining wall, curved or not, needs support. Very few walls are just installed on the ground as-is, and most of them have their own support or stability systems in place that keep them from falling over. However, choosing the right one is very important, especially if you worry about the amount of earth they are holding back, causing them to push forward.
Some are affixed with slats or plates that go into the earth behind it, while others are buried deep underground to ensure that not even an earthquake would be able to move the wall very far. Others use specialized bars as the side to link with other walls and dig deeper into the earth behind it, effectively bonding it to the ground it is supporting.
Some of the more complex designs have gravity-based systems that use the dirt above to push the wall into place, preventing it from moving. A few even have supports that are screwed deep into the earth, wedging the wall in place with a long metal shaft.
Discuss these options with a professional team before going ahead because they can make a big difference. They often provide the actual support and stability a wall needs to be of any use, and without good supports, even the strongest materials will not really make a difference in how well your wall actually survives in the long term.
The installation itself is important as well. When installing curved retaining walls, you want to spend some time figuring out which company you actually trust to install the wall safely. Even the most basic of walls need to be placed by a professional group, especially if you want the best protection possible.
Look into the kind of quality you expect and try to find teams that match those needs. Local businesses might be a good place to start, but there is also a lot of value in using a larger company that can provide a more complete service package and overall employee experience.
The skill sets of the team installing your retaining walls matter just as much as the materials do. Without the right kinds of skills, it is possible to get a retaining wall that looks nice but will eventually collapse or slip from its position. This kind of work is very complex, and many contractors initially struggle to get every detail right.
How you approach the installation is up to you, but remember that you will want to take professional advice as often as possible. Even one mistake could cause problems with your retaining wall, curved or not, that would require a while to fix.
Whatever you are looking for, spend some time looking over your retaining wall options to see what suits your needs most. If you are not sure what to aim for, talk to a specialist and get a breakdown of exactly what each design and material can offer.