What is a Retaining Wall?

by | May 7, 2021

Retaining walls are some of the most common structures seen in the UK today. From landscape gardens through to road embankments, these walls, though common, often go overlooked in terms of their importance. The team here at Borehole Solutions, one of the UK’s leading geotechnical companies, wanted to explore these trusty ‘everymen’ of the construction world in a bit more detail.


What Are They?

Retaining walls are exactly that; walls built to support soil laterally so that it doesn’t spill out onto the other side. Their construction most commonly enables the construction of flat roads into hillsides. Without the retaining wall, the slope would simply collapse or slip. Interestingly, failed retaining walls are amongst the most common highway failures in the UK, with cracks or structural weaknesses within the wall giving way to landslips, in some instances blocking roads entirely.


Types Of Retaining Wall

Broadly speaking, there are four major kinds of retaining wall; these are as follows:

Reinforced Soil Retaining Wall

Reinforced soil retaining walls are what we most typically deal with here at Borehole Solutions, so what are they? These walls feature modular blocks and cap stones as the facing units, with reinforced soil behind and reinforcement frames running through that soil. These walls also typically feature levelling pads and a layer of drainage aggregate.

Gravity Retaining Wall

These are the simplest retaining walls and the most prone to failure; these walls rely on holding soil back by its own weight alone, meaning they can easily topple or fail structurally. These walls are also typically height limited whereas other retaining wall types are less so. Gravity retaining walls are most commonly found in gardening and landscaping projects.

Piling Retaining Wall

Piling retaining walls have the potential to be very strong provided that the piles can withstand and resist high bending forces. These walls utilise piles being driven down into the ground so that it’s fixed by soil on both sides of the wall, this adds a large amount of bearing strength

Cantilever Retaining Walls

The final type of retaining wall is the cantilever wall; these walls utilise reactionary forces to re-stabilise the wall against the very pressures trying to topple it over. Usually these walls extend at the base in the other direction (away from where the wall faces and into the ground) which therefore adds additional ballast/stabilising forces.


Our Other Geotechnical Services

Here at Borehole Solutions, we offer a whole range of geotechnical services asides from our retaining wall work. These include:


Contact Us

So, if you’d like to find out more about any of our geotechnical services, then get in touch! Contact Borehole Solutions today on 01733 200 501 or by emailing us at info@boreholesolutions.com. Alternatively, you can fill out one of our online enquiry forms on our website. We look forward to hearing from you.