No Footing for Wall

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by RobH, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. RobH

    RobH LawnSite Member
    Posts: 142

    I am a homeowner and I just built my first wall in the front of my house. It is built out of Mesa Blocks which are basically concrete block with decorative front. The wall is 24 ft long and 3 foot deep. Each block weighs approx. 75-80 lbs. The wall is 3 blocks high or 36" with 4" caps. The wall sits out about 3 feet from the front of my house and the property is mostly level with the bottom bricks totally buried for about 15 foot of the wall. About 5 of the bottom bricks are totally exposed due to the grade of the land.

    I did not use item 4 or sand or any sort of crushed stone for a footing. I just dug down in the dirt and to set the bottom stone. I went crazy making sure everything was level.

    I am worried that as the ground settles the blocks will start to move. I live in the Northeast and the ground is pretty much compacted soil. I have not backfilled the wall yet. It has been up for approx. 1 month and I have not noticed any settling.

    Should I tear down the wall now and rebuild it using a real footing? Since it is up for approx. 1 month has it already settled? We got a lot of rain in the last month so I would think if anything were to happened it would have happened already. I plan to backfill the entire wall with topsoil and plant trees/shrubs and some other plants.
  2. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    I build several walls similar to yours every season. I have never had one settle yet, but I used chat/ab3/stone dust as a base. This stuff will eventually harden to a solid base after it is moistened. I am assuming that yours will eventually settle if it is just laying on dirt. But, it is not a very tall wall, so there is a slim chance that it may be all right.
    If you do not want to rebuild, then I will offer this advice. Since you have not back filled yet, spread a layer of 1/2-3/4" gravel at the inside base of the wall. Next, lay 3" ADS, perforated drain pipe covered with a silt sock, along the entire length of the wall. Next, spread another layer of gravel over the pipe. Then you can backfill with the topsoil. Good luck.
  3. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Posts: 1,647

    I have done walls similar as you describing and similar construction.

    What we have done was tamp the soil. I have walls standing 15 years and more.
  4. RobH

    RobH LawnSite Member
    Posts: 142

    I don't have any drainage problems on my property. What will the gravel and the pipe do? Will it help the wall drain better? Will it prevent it from settling? Should I add the gravel and pipe no matter if I rebuild or not?

    I didn't tamp the soil, but I used a rubber mallet to bang on top of each block as I was hammering them into place. If the block wasn't level, I would take the block out and then add topsoil and then reinsert the block and keep hammering it until it didn't move.

    I guess I am debating on taking the time to do it over now before I backfill and plant. I know it will be much more work to take apart after it is all built.

    Again it hasn't settled yet with the heavy rains we got up in the Northeast this last month. However, I am not sure if one month is a good indication of how long it takes a 3 ft high wall to settle.
  5. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    Gravel should be used at the base of any wall to aid in draining, regardless if there is a drainage problem or not. The pipe and gravel will slow down the settling if it is going to occur. Yes, the pipe and gravel should be used regardless of what you do. Since the base was not tamped good, you will probably experience settling soon.
  6. Harley58

    Harley58 LawnSite Member
    from Orlando
    Posts: 28

    What Lombardi said. Don't underestimate the power of water. Put the crushed, filter fabric, and perf pipe now. I've seen a washout with 3 man rock cause they didn't use $60.00 of pipe and crushed. Had to rip it out and re-do at contractors expense. So much for his profit.
  7. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,915

    The hard part is done (almost) the excavation and leveling of the area is the labor intensive and precision work that you have already performed. You are so close to having done it 100% correct, that you now need to perform the last few steps to make it right. Take it back down, install the crushed stone (4-6") and compact (2" at a time), drainage pipe behind first course, and backfill with a 3/4" stone the height of the wall. Then you have done all you can to make it right. You'll be kicking yourself in two or three years when it starts moving. Also, knowing you will have plantings in the area will put stress on the wall as well. Just because the area does not have drainage issues, the backfill and pipe are for heavy rains.

    Do it right! You'll be the wiser for it. :)
  8. BRL

    BRL LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,211

    "Again it hasn't settled yet with the heavy rains we got up in the Northeast this last month. However, I am not sure if one month is a good indication of how long it takes a 3 ft high wall to settle."

    The bigger problem than settling IMO is the effects of the freeze thaw cycles that wall will go through in future winters (based on where in NY you may be). All it takes is certain moisture and temperature conditions to happen and suddenly the beautiful & straight wall has a few hiccups here & there. Having the proper stone base helps alleviate these problems because that base is flexible and handles the soil movements usually without moving the walls. Ditto Randy's post. Good luck!

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