Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is a structure designed and constructed to resist the lateral pressure of the soil when the desired elevation of the ground changes which exceeds the angle of repose of the soil, while retaining walls are used to support the soil laterally so that it can maintain different levels on both sides.

Here we will learn about retaining wall, types of retaining wall & its application.

Function of retaining wall:

  • The retaining wall prevents the soil or other material at places with sudden changes in elevation.
  • Earth retaining structures are used to hold back the earth and maintain a difference in the height of the ground surface.
  • Retaining structures are designed to withstand the grounds or backfill, other externally exerted loads transmit these forces safely to a foundation.

Types of Retaining Wall:

Gravity Retaining Wall:

Gravity retaining walls depends only on its self-weight to withstand lateral earth pressure.

Typically, these retaining walls is essential for massive gravitational load required to counter soil pressure.

Such walls are constructed with various materials such as concrete, stone, and masonry, it is economical for elevations up to 3 m.

Crib, gabion wall, and bin retaining walls are additionally a type of gravity retaining walls.

Gravity Wall

Cradle Retaining Walls:

These cradle retaining walls are the type of gravity wall, constructed from a particular person’s interlocking packing containers, which might be made from wooden or precast concrete.

Then, filled with crushed stone or other coarse granular material to sort the free-drain structure.

The primary types of walls include strengthened precast and wooden retaining walls.

They are constructed to support the plains, while they are not recommended for supporting slopes or structures.


Gabion Retaining Walls:

This walls are multi-orbital, rectangular wire mesh packing containers filled with rocks or different suitable materials.

It is used for the development of erosion management structures & to stabilize the steep slopes.


Cantilever Retaining Wall:

This walls are made up of stem or base slabs, constructed with reinforced concrete, precast concrete, or prestressed concrete.

These walls are built either on-site or precast offsite, it is economical up to 10 meters height.

The bottom slab portion under the backfill materials is known as the heel, and the opposite part is called toe.

It requires a small amount of concrete compared to the gravity wall, however its design and construction are carefully performed.

Similar to the gravity wall, sliding, reversing, and bearing pressures will be considered during its configuration.


Counterfort retaining wall:

These counterfort retaining walls are counter fort behind the wall slab and base slab are reinforced with monolithic.

The counter-fort wall is equal or slightly more significant than half the counter-fort height.

The height of the counter-fort wall is 8–12 m.


Anchored Retaining Wall:

These walls is adopted when the house is constrained or a thin retaining walls are required.

An anchored retaining walls is appropriate for loose soil on rocks.

Deep cable rods or wiring routes are provided sideways into the deep earth, then the ends are filled with concrete to give anchors.

Anchors (tiebacks) work towards eliminating pressure and slipping.

Anchored Retaining Wall

Pile Retaining Wall:

They are made by mixing the reinforced concrete piles adjoining to one another.

They are forced to a suitable depth to withstand pressure used in temporary and permanent works.

The pile provides extreme rigidity to the parts of the retaining walls, which can place lateral pressure at tremendous digging depth with almost no disturbance to the surrounding structure or properties.

Sheet pile walls are constructed using metal sheets to required extent in slope or excavation, however they can’t stand up to very excessive pressures.

Maintaining the sheet pile economically to a height of 6 meters.

Pile Wall

Mechanically Stable Earth (MSE) Retaining Wall:

This retaining walls are most economical hence they are mostly constructed.

It is supported by unique fills (granulated) and held together by reinforcement, which can be steel strips and plastic mesh.

Mechanically Stable Earth

Hybrid Retaining walls:

This walls are used in both mass and supports the stability known as a hybrid or composite retaining walls.

Advantages of retaining wall:

Protective structure:

Retaining walls are used to counteract the forces of gravity to protect the structure.

In other words, they are used to hold the soil.

Functional production:

Retaining walls serve as a functional production to prevent sink holes from destroying your landscape structure.

They are used to stabilize the sloping landscapes and provides the level surfaces on slopes.

Best run-off solution:

If your property is not prevented from infiltrating, then rainwater runoff can completely damage your land.

This can protect your landscape design, also prevent floods from inflowing the area.

Reduce maintenance:

Retaining walls can protect your landscape design and help you in the long run.

As a protective feature it reduces maintenance and prevents erosion.

Decorative feature:

Retaining walls additionally give your landscape an aesthetically pleasing design.

Also read:  Partition Wall, Cavity Wall & Curtain Wall

Disadvantages of retaining wall:

Vertical cracks:

Some retaining walls develop vertical cracks such in poured concrete due to extreme pressure or extensive changes in temperature.

Failing Foundation:

Some retaining walls are not able to sustain high pressure from the soil such as brick walls, often resulting in brick breakage or foundation failure.


Retaining walls can attract termites to your property when wood is used as a retaining wall.

Application of Retaining wall:

  1. Construction of basement below ground level in buildings.
  2. In the bridge, work consists of the wing walls and abutment.
  3. To maintain slopes in hilly areas.
  4. As side walls of bridge approach roads.
  5. Providing lateral support to the embankment.
Also read: Load Bearing Wall, Masonry Wall & CMU Walls


A retaining wall stabilizes the soil and protects the buildings from overturning and slipping, it also helps to save construction costs.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

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