How Tall Can I Build My Retaining Wall in Clinton County, IN?

How Tall Can I Build My Retaining Wall in Clinton County, IN?

November 2, 2018

How high can a retaining wall be built? This question comes up quite frequently when homeowners are looking to control a backyard full of rolling hills so they can have a lawn area, an outdoor gathering space or a flat garden. Retaining walls are a perfect solution for taming those steep slopes into an attractive living space. A stacked block, timber or stone wall creates a natural looking appearance that blends in with the environment while also improving the overall curb appeal.

Ultimately, the maximum height of retaining walls in Clinton County, IN will depend on a few different factors, including the soil type, construction quality and local building codes. Follow these guidelines to determine how high a retaining wall can be built:

  • Soil: Most retaining walls never exceed five feet tall, even under ideal conditions. This can only be achieved when the grade behind the wall is completely flat and the soil is sandy. Other soil types, like clay, have a hard time holding a retaining wall because the soil is extremely heavy. However, you can create a strong foundation for a wall that’s taller than three feet, as long as you’re willing to pay the price.
  • Strong base: A good retaining wall needs a strong and level base for maximum stability. As mentioned previously, sandy soil is a good start. A suitable foundation can be created by adding about a foot of compacted gravel to the base along the bottom of the wall. This bottom part of the wall will be hidden beneath a backfill of compacted gravel. This will help the water drain freely and eliminate some of the pressure created by the wet soil. From there, the wall will need to have a slight backward lean into the hill at a rate of about one inch for every foot.
  • Permits: Unfortunately, the height isn’t the only thing dictated by the foundation. Local ordinances could have an impact on the height of your retaining wall in Clinton County, IN. Anything over three feet tall will require a permit from your local governing body. The measurement is taken from the ground to the top of the wall. Multiple retaining walls—even if they’re below three feet—may also require a permit. It’s best to check with the local building department before you consider building anything. A permit is required for anything taller than four feet, regardless of the construction material type. Additionally, the building department may require that the plan be prepared by a licensed structural engineer.

Quality construction

The height of a retaining wall is completely irrelevant if it can’t stand up to the pressure of the soil. The wall needs to be specifically designed and built for the unique configuration and demands of the property. That’s why it’s critical that the design and construction be completed by a professional landscape design company. Additionally, a professional will be able to easily navigate the complicated government permitting process.

Ready to get started on a new retaining wall in Clinton County, IN? Call BCS Landscape Design & Soil Testing to learn more about what we can do for you!

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