One of the main factors while building retaining walls is to keep the area (mostly) dry. Water can degrade the structural integrity of retaining walls, which means that it is of the utmost importance during the entire construction process to keep the reinforced area relatively dry. However, sometimes this feels like an impossible task, as everyone who has ever tried to manage water on the work site knows.

Drainage System

Drainage is incredibly important since most retaining walls are permanent. If drainage is not considered, hydrostatic pressure increases behind the strengthened area and causes the wall to crack or spill. Many ways of guaranteeing proper drainage are provided:

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Proper Backfill

  • The weep hole is four to six-inch diameter and placed on a retaining wall every 3 to 4 feet. These holes allow a small section of the drain pipe to pass through the wall. The area under the weeping holes can sometimes get stained when dirty water is filtered. In the case of esthetics, filter textiles can be used to cover the inlet and filter dirt before the water runs down the wall.

  • By using a perforated pipe in a gravel bed behind the wall, the need for weep holes can be eliminated. The gravel permits the water space to penetrate the pipe and is removed to the bottom from the retaining wall. You can connect them at the ends of pipes to a new drainage array or allow the water to flow to the ground as needed.

  • For walls  less than 3 feet, it may not need drainage if the retaining wall is permeable. Retaining walls in Edmond, OK, that are not held with mortar will have ample space between each stone for natural weeping holes to function. So that soil is not eroded by water, filtering fabric needs to be installed behind the wall.

Proper Water Management

The best way to start water planning is to consult your contractors to understand the site thoroughly and to determine water source and how to manage it properly.

The retaining walls contractors in Edmond, OK, are responsible for understanding the purpose of the approved site plans and the requirements to protect the area affected by the construction of the wall. By collaborating with you, contractors will evaluate the entire site to determine if the water drains into the wall area and what is the most effective solution. As a temporary form of water management, berms or swales can be used to lead water away from the construction site.

Temporary grading may also be necessary because retaining walls are often constructed in Edmond, OK before the site is graded. In this way, water will not drain into the building area.

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Groundwater Management

  • The water in the soil, called groundwater, presents a series of problems which must be considered and planned for. Infiltration, fluctuation of the water table and different layers of permeable soil could cause soil movement and decrease the structural integrity behind the holding wall.

  • It can be useful to use drainage pipes in toe and heel drain applications near the pre-existing storm sewer, that is properly vented every 50 feet, and drained directly into the sewers. Alternatively, you can release water at a lower elevation on the site but first, check approved site plans.

  • Make sure every drainage point is marked and protected during the building process when lowered, to ensure that no damage or blockage occurs after building. Concrete collars or rodent screens are great ideas to remove debris from the drainage pathways.

Other Sources of Water Management

Groundwater is not the only issue to be considered when planning a retaining wall. The general contractor and the construction engineer must work together to identify all possible sources of concentrated water before construction.

These can cover storm sewer pipes below grade, water lines, fire hydrants, water supply, roofing downs, irrigation systems, pump outlets, etc. These sources may include other problems causing unexplored sources of water like car parks, site grading, storm water catch basins, driveways and slopes over the walls.

Rainwater can affect your construction in many ways. During the construction process, saturated and unusable materials and soils left out during rain may enter. If the weather forecast calls for rain, it is good practice to cover all infill soils and the whole wall project.

For well-constructed retaining walls in Edmond, OK, you can consult our professionals at ADC Hardscapes. Everything associated with the wall including its installation, maintenance and repair, you can expect from our experts.