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HOW TO OPTIMISE YOUR LAND SPACE- using retaining walls to expand the buildable area .

From the early days, man has been layering rows of stones to keep soil out of their campsites –  the retaining wall was born and we have been keeping soil at bay ever since.  Over the last 20 years, retaining walls have evolved. With increasingly better methods, tools and understanding, retaining walls have also become very useful in maximising the use of your land. Retaining walls can be constructed of many things – steel, wood, bricks and mortar, masonry dry-stacked block, gabions and boulders.  The idea is to retain the mass of the soil behind the wall, and divert water, and any applied pressures away from another structure in front and in doing so create more useable space.

Humans have used retaining wall techniques to create terraces of usable land on slopes for centuries.    Well-designed retaining walls provide land owners with a larger, more level surface to work on or develop. Landscaping is also much easier when you have a level area on your property. Retaining walls, if constructed properly, can provide the necessary earth support to make some parts of a sloped property level enough for recreational or practical use.

Two popular kinds of retaining systems regularly used to optimise land space are:

  1. Gravity walls

Most popular type of retaining wall. Gravity walls depend on their mass (stone, concrete or other heavy durable material) to resist pressure from behind and may have a ‘batter’ setback to improve stability by leaning back toward the retained soil. Gabions (wire baskets filled with rock) are commonly used as a gravity wall system to provide an elevated area, thus making more usable land.


  1. Reinforced soil walls (e.g. Keystone® block facing with Acegrid® geogrids)

When a sloped area is an issue, a reinforced retaining wall option may be feasible. These days a Keystone® block facing wall are architecturally pleasing and are being utilised in this application. For high retaining walls greater than 3m, an added soil reinforcement component, for example, Acegrid® geogrids is suggested to be used. These layers of geogrid are placed taut in the select compacted backfill zone. Ideal when land is reclaimed/filled to form a more level platform for a building structure or landscaped area.

For more design assistance on retaining structures, please contact your local Global Synthetics representative .



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