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Old 04-27-2010, 12:15 PM   #1
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Brick retaining wall - safe ?


We're building a small brick retaining wall (standard red clay bricks & mortar) -- it will be 7 bricks high and slightly curved - abot 12 feet long.

We'll be digging into the ground only about 5" and laying a bed of mortar to start the first row and level it.

Would it be a good idea to somehow "brace" it or would just the weight and curvature be sufficient to keep it form being pushed over? Or would you add some sort of rebar or strengthening support to it? If so, what would YOU do?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 04-27-2010, 02:10 PM   #2
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Brick retaining wall - safe ?


So it's maybe 24" high and holding back 24" of soil? Lots of factors; frost conditions, how thick is the wall, what kind of soil, what kind of drainage provisions, what kind of arc to the curve, is the wall straight up or leaning into the embankment?

As far as safety I doubt anyone would get hurt by it as it slowly fails. My Dad built a small brick garden surround about 4 bricks high on a mortar bed as you describe (holding back no dirt) and it started cracking and heaving from the ground freezing and thawing so that concerns me from the start. 21" of dirt isn't a lot but I could see it easily pushing over a 1 wythe wall on a 5" mortar bed in just a couple years.

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Old 04-27-2010, 03:36 PM   #3
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Brick retaining wall - safe ?


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Originally Posted by jogr View Post
So it's maybe 24" high and holding back 24" of soil? Lots of factors; frost conditions, how thick is the wall, what kind of soil, what kind of drainage provisions, what kind of arc to the curve, is the wall straight up or leaning into the embankment?

As far as safety I doubt anyone would get hurt by it as it slowly fails. My Dad built a small brick garden surround about 4 bricks high on a mortar bed as you describe (holding back no dirt) and it started cracking and heaving from the ground freezing and thawing so that concerns me from the start. 21" of dirt isn't a lot but I could see it easily pushing over a 1 wythe wall on a 5" mortar bed in just a couple years.
Thanks for the reply. We really don't get into freeze situation here in my part of California, so less of a concern there. The soil is probably 30% clay and will be butt up against the brick wall. The "curve" is really just a "arc" - probably extends in the middle only by about 1/2'. The wall is pretty straight up ... we COULD set them back like 1/4" each brick INTO the dirt - that would probably add some more support to it.

If we WERE to add additonal support to it somehow, what would we use or how would we do that?
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:07 PM   #4
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Brick retaining wall - safe ?


Here's a good link
http://www.doityourself.com/stry/brickretainingwall

Note that besides the vertical rebar they put in reinforcing between the 4rth and 5th row of bricks. You can get this at masonry supply houses. The drainage is very important to reduce pressure. I'd backfill right up against the wall with sand or gravel wrapped in heavy duty landscaping cloth. Clay tends to expand and contract as it gets wet and dries out so this will help reduce that action. Also notice that they used two wythes of brick. If you don't want the appearance of two wythes you drop to one wythe for the top row so the second wythe doesn't show. If you do that you could even switch to concrete block for the hidden wythe.

As you can see they put in a heavy duty footing. This is not for frost protection. It's to keep the whole wall from tipping from soil pressure so your footing should be just as big.
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:38 PM   #5
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Brick retaining wall - safe ?


Thanks for all that ...
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