09:05AM | 02/17/03
Member Since: 02/16/03
1 lifetime posts
I have a 2 to 3 feet deep ditch on one side of my drive. It's the side that takes the force of my car turning into my drive. Currently, it's supported by a railroad tie/metal rod/concrete thingy that seems to be leaning. I love the look of natural stone or pavers, but am afraid they won't last. What are my possibilities?

PS. There are tons of natural quartz stones next to my lot.


01:52AM | 02/19/03
Member Since: 01/14/03
264 lifetime posts
A properly constructed stone retaining wall will have a base (bottom) set 1-2 feet below the lowest grade, and the base width will be upwards of 30-40 percent of the wall height. And the top of the wall should be at least 12-18 inches in width. So, you're looking and a lot of excavation and a lot of stone. And you're looking at learning how best to place those stones such that they sit snuggly together, allowing for the friction of rough faces to keep them from sliding, along with a front face that slopes backwards (called batter) about 1 inch horizontally for every 12 inches of vertical height.

That's why many folks go to railroad ties and treated timbers for short height retaining walls. Timber walls still should have a batter similar to that for stone, but the base will only be as wide as the timber. Ties backs, called deadmen, should be provided to hold the wall securely to the earth behind it, especially where there will be a significant live load (a car or truck) on or near the top of the wall.

Today there are other options commonly called modular unit walls. These are basically concrete blocks designed to sit on top of each other in a staggered pattern, with either vertical tongue and groove elements to created the necessary friction, or fiberglass pins to keep the blcoks from slipping on each other due to the weight of the earth behind. They're ideal for short height retaining wall, but the "look" varies. Many of them create what we usually refer to as the stacked marshmallow look, but some can look fairly decent with flat faces. They're designed such that the stacking automatically incorporates the appropriate batter.

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