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revkev1952 08-07-2010 07:09 AM

Retaining Wall - Stones and Support?
Hello all,
I have a driveway that runs parallel to the side of my house to a detached garage. I have decided to pour a narrow (~ 28" wide) sidewalk immediately adjacent to it on the house side. The driveway sits about 1 to 1 1/2 feet lower in elevation than the ground between it and the house. The house sits about 18 feet from the edge of the driveway.

I've lived in the house for over 20 years and it is an old house (100-120 yrs). There was no retaining wall next to the driveway but a line of bricks laid perpendicular to the house at driveway level along the driveway. Never had an issue with the small hillside falling, the soil is heavy Pennsylvania clay below the topsoil. I live in Pittsburgh.

I cut back into the soil about 3 feet from the driveway and 9 to 12 inches below the driveway elevation and currently have it filled with about 5-8 inches of #2 river rock for drainage.

I want to set a decorative retaining wall next to the new sidewalk. It would be about 55' long and the last 20 feet of the driveway drops in elevation so at the end the wall would be ~ 28" high. And finally here are my questions:

1. I looked at Versalok but think it is overkill and would prefer to use a stone with a 8" depth. Someone has suggested unilock (?). Any comments?

2. I've had several suggestions made to me concerning the base of the wall including a) just use the river rock for a base, b) use limestone for a base (remove the river rock) c) pour a footer or pad for the base, d) remove the river rock and use a compacted base material that is a mix of much smaller stone available from a local landscape supply.

Thanks in advance for any help. I'm pretty handy ( have to be in such an old house) but never set a retaining wall.

concretemasonry 08-07-2010 09:35 AM

You are probably talking about the full size Versalok unit that is about 12" deep from the face. The producer of that product in R. I. Lampus Co. in Springdale, PA. That company also supplies many sizes of retaining wall units for different applications - give them a call to find out what products (not just Versalok) are available in the smaller sizes (8" or so) and who sells them retail in your area. Your local distributor may just carry one of the many different styles, sizes and colors, but there certainly others out in your area. Other major brands (Allan Block, Anchor Walls Systems & Keystone) also have smaller units since the segmental walls represent the majority of retaining wall construction today.


revkev1952 08-09-2010 11:14 AM

Thanks for the info Dick.

Yes the distributor I spoke with about Versalok has a limited selection. A neighbor is erecting a much larger wall and is using Unilock. It looks nice and their website ( )shows some nice looking styles. Are you familiar with it?

Do you have an opinion on the base support options I mentioned in my first post?



bernieb 08-09-2010 02:02 PM

This idea should draw some flak from the hard core concrete workers but here goes. Go ahead and put in your sidewalk ,figure 4 inches in the walk area ,but make the walk 40 inches wide , so a poured wall, 8 inches thick, the heighth you need,leaning slightly to the house can sit on the walk so to speak, only have piers going down to the three foot level every 10 feet , and have the crete footer (the walk) at least 8 inches thick. The whole walk and poured walls will be depending on the deep piers for anchoring. You can put in three inch pvc pipe for spreaders and to let out trapped water. You can use half inch osb board for form work,but buy the longest 2x4's available and install on edge with threaded rod going through the 3 and a half inch way . First 2x4's two inches from bottom of osb boards and 12 inches up for the next row and 12 on up. Keep your crete a number 4 slump so you don't get the pressure. Run a string to keep your wall straight at the bottom, and stick short lengths of re-bar in walk where wall sets. The secret in a wall pour is to have plenty of wall ties (bought from a concrete company) or buy threaded rod, but you need plenty of them, at least within a foot from each other in your case. But very close to the bottom with a furring strip jamming the osb board with nails in the concrete. So there, and fine tune please.

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