Thursday, July 7, 2011

Garden Elements - CMU Retaining Wall

With all the slopes we have here in San Diego, a retaining wall is a great way to expand the useable landscape area in a back yard or front yard.  There are several different types of retaining walls.  One of the most common is the CMU wall, which is short for Concrete Masonry Unit.   CMU blocks come in a wide variety of sizes, the most common of which is 16” long x 8” tall x 8” deep.
Each CMU wall needs a footing of concrete with “L” shaped rebar laid in it.  After the footing is laid, the first course (row) of blocks is laid.  Depending on the height of the wall the first course is usually below the grade of the soil.  Each block is connected to the one next to it with mortar.  The most critical element after laying a proper footing for your wall is to make sure that the bottom course is perfectly level.  Each course has layer of mortar on top of it for the next course of blocks to be laid on.   After the last course is laid, concrete is added to the interior of the block to lock the block to the rebar that is running up from the footing.  The wall is then capped with some type of cap stones.
After the wall has been built, the wall can be covered with either a stucco coat or different types of facades.  On Friday I will post a series of photos for a wall I designed that had a brick façade.  For more information on building specs and permits for building walls in the city of San Diego click on the link below to see all the info on RCP Block & Brick’s web page.

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