Building Retaining Walls


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Patents Pending on all products and
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Details About Assembling Genie Blocks

What about Retaining Wall Construction?

Constructing retaining walls does require some additional work outside of cutting and stacking the blocks. In particular is the task of ensuring the wall will endure the back-pressure on it over time.

Drainage System
Drainage is an essential part of a properly designed retaining wall. Drainage materials are generally well-graded aggregates. A properly designed drainage system relieves hydrostatic pressure in the soil, provides a stiff leveling pad to support a column of stacked facing units, and provides a working surface during construction. Surface water drainage should be designed to minimize erosion of the topsoil in front of the wall toe and to direct surface water away from the structure.

The primary benefit of wall embedment is to ensure the wall is not undermined by erosion of the soil in front of the wall. Increasing the depth of embedment also provides greater stability when site conditions include weak bearing capacity of underlying soils, steep slopes near the toe of the wall, potential scour at the toe (particularly in waterfront or submerged applications), seasonal soil volume changes, or seismic loads.

On smaller walls an "L" shaped rebar-reinforced concrete pillar can be poured to provide wall stability as shown in the left side diagram below. Taller retaining walls require somewhat more elaborate reinforcement. The right side diagram below illustrates the technique. ‘Geo Grid’ is only one of numerous products for this application. Geo Grid is a synthetic material that comes in 6’ wide rolls. At 2 foot intervals a line of the material is laid down with one end wedged between tiers on the wall and the other extending horizontally onto the backfill which should be filled to that level at the time the grid is being placed. This process continues in increments to the top of the structure.


Retaining Wall Construction Tips

Construction occurs in the following sequence:

1. Excavation and leveling pad construction

2. Setting, leveling, and back-filling base course

3. Placement and back-filling of units in succeeding courses

4. Placement, tensioning, and back-filling of soil reinforcement (when required)

5. Compaction of backfill to the specified density

6. Capping and finish grading.

Note: When compacting soil within 3 ft (0.9 m) of the front face of a wall, compaction tools should be limited to hand operated equipment, preferably a vibrating plate compactor. Reinforced soil can be compacted with walk-behind or self-propelled riding compaction equipment.


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Genie Block 
7638 Winston Street, Burnaby BC Canada V5A 2H4
Tel. 604 294 5342   Fax.  604 294 5372   Email


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No duplication without express consent.
Genie Block TM & Genie Blocks TM are the registered trademarks of Genie Block Manufacturing Ltd. 
All Rights Reserved.


Patents Pending on all products and proprietary tools shown or described herein.