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Retaining Wall Questions (Beginner)

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by ccas, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. ccas

    ccas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    Okay, so I had a cheap builder on my first home. I didnt know all the right questions and things to have them look at.

    Anyhow, they built a retaining wall on both sides of the walk out basement. Both sides sort of curve about 55 feet at a height of 5 and half feet. When they built it they used large boulder and just kind of stacked them half hazardly with large gaps between them. Needless to say after three years they are not retaining much and look like garbage.

    I want to rebuild this wall with some nice rataining wall stones. I want to get rid of the boulder look. I am renting a 10,000 lb excavator at the end of the month. I was planning on relocating the boulders to another spot in my lawn. This leads me to my first question. Will a 10,000 lb excavator be large enough to move a boulder the size of a mini cooper?

    My next question is in regards to building the wall. Being that I am not an expert, I was planning on building this 5 and a half foot wall in 2 levels sort of swooping into stairs in the middle. I think making 2 smaller walls for a novice may be easier than 1 taller wall and would give me some planting areas. Now my question....What type of footer do I need? Can I just use a paver base? Do I need to poor a concrete footer?

    I know this is a lot and you will tell me to hire someone. However, I have the entire summer off and would love to do it myself.
  2. Inspira

    Inspira Banned
    Messages: 19

    Not a pro - another homeowner who's done my share of research. You're way off on the footer - you need crushed stone (QP). And if you went the full 5.5' height you'd need geogrid, but even if you split it, you have a lot going on there. Stairs are complicated, too. There is a lot of work behind the scenes with these walls, as I'm sure the guys on this board will soon tell you. Your initial questions tell me you have TONS of homework to do.

    The best website to learn is Versa-Lok, they'll also send you tons of materials that lay it out for you.

    Speaking of tons - no idea about moving the boulders. But now you're talking about something that can surely kill you. Pay a pro. It's a lot of money but worth it.
  3. ccas

    ccas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    Not completely a beginner. The paver base I was talking about is crushed stone. The reason I asked about the footer is because I had someone tell me a concrete footer may be a good idea. I have done a number of stairs and steps in the past. I know that I need stone as the filler behind the wall as well. I do not think there is going to be all that much to it.
  4. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Move it maybe, lift it, no!
  5. ccas

    ccas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    Was planning on cradling it and "pushing" it around. I do not have very far to push it at all. It's already been dug out of the ground and has a lot of edges that should be able grab ahold of.
  6. ericmcj31

    ericmcj31 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 404

    I'm thinking no on the 10,000 pound excavator---FWIW you may wanna pay a licensed contractor in your area to come out and look at what you have to help 'point' you in the right direction. It'd be worth it to me to spend a couple hundred bucks for advice that could potentially save you thousands in repairs/faulty work.
  7. Crusher Run

    Crusher Run LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    Kudos to you ccas. If your doing a SRW a concrete footer is not needed. Footers need to be below the frost line, in NH that could be anywhere from 3-5'

    How is the drainage at the base of the current wall? Does water ever pool up there?
  8. ccas

    ccas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    No water there. It is on a grade of about 10 degrees or so.
  9. ccas

    ccas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    Geez, that changes everything. Considering I would need the wall to be down at least 3 feet would mean I would have a total of 8 feet. That's more than I was planning. Would I need to also go down 3 feet for the upper wall if doing it in two levels? I'm beginning to think Maybe I should do all of the excavating work taking down the older wall and then hire someone to come and build the new one. I have 2 sides of the walk out that are around 50 feet or so a piece and would need to be at least 5 1/2 feet high. What kind of price would I be looking at? Would also like the same person to put in a patio with pavers in the same area between the two walls. I think it is about 50X50.
  10. Crusher Run

    Crusher Run LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    Maybe I wasn't clear concrete footers need to be below the frost line, NOT a segmental Retaining Wall (SRW) That's the great thing with that type of wall system it will allow for small shifts due to frost without cracking like a concrete wall might. I think the general rule is about 10% of your wall should be under ground. Dig the base for the wall twice the width of your block and go down minimum 6-8 inches below your first course. Keep reading this site is full of good info.
    Build the wall it will give you a lifetime of satisfaction, just do it right.

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