In Orange County retaining walls are one of the most important popular elements of landscape design, especially for large scale home builder developments located on slopes or hillsides. Sometimes retaining walls are necessary from an engineering point of view and sometimes they are constructed for aesthetic reasons. Depending on their purpose, retaining walls come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles.
When is it necessary to build retaining walls in Orange County?
Retaining walls are able to significantly increase the usable area of the plots, which is especially important if you are building a village on steep hills or any sort of multi-level landscape. With the help of retaining walls, it is possible to create additional space for courtyards, gardens, swimming pools, or other landscape structures.
Another important reason for building retaining walls is erosion control. Plots located on hill slopes can be seriously affected by soil erosion. It affects both the soil near the surface and deep below it. Deep erosion is even more dangerous – it leaves large voids of space that can’t support much of anything. Therefore, erosion threatens not only gardens but also the foundations of houses, up to their destruction. The only way to protect future gardens and buildings in hilly terrain is to build retaining walls which can help effectively control and direct water.
Is a government permit required for the construction of retaining walls in California?
Indeed, the California Building Code says that a building permit is required for all new retaining walls, as well as replacement and or repair of existing ones. If the wall is supporting a surcharge, it will require a building permit. Surcharge is a vertical load imposed on the retained soil that may impose a lateral force in addition to the lateral earth pressure of the retained soil.
Among the most frequently encountered surcharges are sloping retained soil, structure footings supported by the retained soil and adjacent vehicle loads supported by the retained soil.
What materials should preferably be used for the construction of retaining walls in Orange County?
For private landscape design, not only the engineering qualities of the walls are of great importance, but also their appearance. Let’s try to quickly understand the pros and cons of the most popular materials.
By far the most aesthetically attractive material, besides the cheapest of all. But there is a serious drawback: it is suitable only for the smallest walls. And one more thing: wood is the least durable material on the list.
One of the most durable materials. A wide range of styles is available, installation costs are low. But, again, cinder blocks are not suitable for large walls.
The most reliable option, appropriate in almost every case – after all, concrete can be given any shape. The main disadvantage is a complex, expensive installation that requires the participation of experienced professionals.
Stone & Boulders
An aesthetically impeccable option, besides being exceptionally weather-resistant and eco-friendly. But, unfortunately, it is very expensive and even more difficult to install than concrete.
A huge range of this environmentally impeccable material is available for sale, which is a reasonable compromise between boulders and concrete.
Interlocking concrete block is a perfect way to build a strong wall without mortar. It is also an ideal, not very expensive option for f temporary or emergency buildings, walls and other structures. It has many important benefits, including optimal distribution of wall pressure on the slab, larger stability, easy and correct alignment every time. Also, interlocking blocks are easy and quick to install and don’t require a lot of materials and specialist labor.
And the last tip
As in other nuances of landscape design, do not forget about plants. In many cases, it makes sense to plant small shrubs (but not large trees!) above and below the retaining walls. Their roots will strengthen the soil and help to remove excess moisture.
If you are looking for a sub-contractor in California, visit our Landscape Construction Services Page.