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Old 04-12-2010, 09:49 PM   #1
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Footer depth for small wall?


We've an 11' space between two old growth, but well shaped hedge rows and would like to close that gap with concrete block wall.

The wall will be divied up into two 4' runs and be about 6' tall to match the height of the hedges. There will be a self supporting arch at the midway point creating a 3' wide "doorway".

The area is a low point in the yard and immediately abutts a 1ft high runoff from a private paved road. The soil is almost always soggy for a while after hard rains. There's also a lot of mole activity there, but that's a topic for a gun owner's forum...

Anyway, I read that here in the WV the frost line is about 3'. Does this mean that I need to dig an 18" wide trench down to 4' to account for a gravel base and then fill it to the top with concrete mix? That seems like a lot of diggin' for such a smallish wall. I mean, just under 1/2 will be beneath the ground.

Can't I dig down 18", tamp 6" of gravel, pour it to the brim and call it a day? 1 foot seems plenty to this DIYer.

Any ideas of how to go about this?

Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2010, 11:19 PM   #2
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You probably don't need a permit, best to check, but assuming you don't you can build without much of a foundation, assuming the soil is dense and strong. For my money, I would probably dig down three feet, backfill with gravel, compact the gravel in six inch lifts, and not use any concrete. Probably can get away with two feet of gravel.

As for the six foot high wall, general rule of thumb for a gravity wall is that the base needs to be 40 percent as wide as the wall is tall, so for a six foot wall that would imply a 2 -1/2 foot wide base. I was not clear if you planned to retain any earth with the wall, that would be a completely different matter, the 40 percent rule is for a simple wall that holds back no soil. If the base is not adequately wide, the wall is subject to toppling over from wind or impact.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:05 AM   #3
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In our area, you would need a permit just to make sure it does not encroach on someone elses property. But if you want it to last, you need to have footers below frost line. No or shallow footers will result in a short life.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:38 AM   #4
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In my neck of the woods, such an item is considered a landscape feature, and any landscape feature that is permanent in nature and has to be constructed requires a permit. Examples: if you bought a big boulder and used a large machine to place it, that wouldn't require a permit. If you wanted to place a bunch of garden gnomes in your bushes, no permit. But if you wanted to construct a garden wall or gazebo, you need a permit. Some people in my area also built these small, faux water well housings to hide their well heads. Nice idea, but it runs afoul of local permit requirements, and state well permits (ground water sources under the influence of surface water) if they're built improperly.

Best bet is to call the town and tell them what you want to do, and they'll let you know the deal. But I had to do drawings for a client who redid their front walk and driveway, and they installed brick knee walls and brick planters in a bunch of spots. The town not only required permits, they wanted drawings too.

Last edited by Aggie67; 04-13-2010 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:51 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.

I'm sorry that I wasn't more clear, but it is *not* a retaining wall. Just a standalone landscaping lump of blocks to pretty up a neglected corner of the yard.

I called the town office and, strangely enough, the inspector took a look at it. I think that they, too, felt that I was putting in a retaining wall.

Anyway, he said that 6" gravel and 1' of concrete x 18" wide was overkill for the job.

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Old 04-13-2010, 08:23 PM   #6
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I put a 3' wall in (wall block) about 4 years ago to hold back dirt until the new driveway goes in
I just dug down where I wanted to start & leveled it out
Wall hasn't moved as far as I can tell
My "soil" is very sandy & rocky there - very good drainage

When the driveway goes in a proper wall with some gravel & proper drainage will go in
But I won't be pouring any cement



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Old 04-13-2010, 09:40 PM   #7
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The first book on the list- Audel's, page #110 for good foundation info: http://books.google.com/books?lr=&cd...G=Search+Books
OR just "I just dug down where I wanted to start & leveled it out" and hope for the best........... Stay current on your Home-owners Insurance.

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Old 04-13-2010, 09:48 PM   #8
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If not a retaining wall & SMALL, yeah just dig down to where you want to start

But a 6' tall wall ? I missed that...that can be dangerous if it falls over
and a doorway from stone in the middle ? Or a wooden arched doorway ?
Add that to soggy ground & I'd definitely have a solid base 1st



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Old 04-13-2010, 10:53 PM   #9
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Footer depth for small wall?


With some water and wind a 6' high wall can turn into sidewalk (even if it is short).

Dick
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Old 04-13-2010, 11:10 PM   #10
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Thanks! I enjoyed that....

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