Do you live near the sloped ground or on a hill and are looking for ways to landscape there in ecological ways? Or maybe you are looking for uses for broken concrete pieces in some meaningful way, but don’t know how to use them?
Whatever the reason you’re reading this is, I’ve tried my best to describe how to make a broken concrete retaining wall on your property. It’s a simple project, but I do have to warn you that you will feel like working while doing it.
Reusing broken concrete to create a retaining wall is affordable, simple, and environment-friendly. You can create it with only or mostly free and recycled materials. Materials that would otherwise take up space at the landfill that is already too full. Instead of using poison-coated dead trees or carbon dioxide-intensive fresh concrete, this article will show how to build a broken concrete retaining wall.
Broken concrete is easy to locate since it is costly to take and dispose of at a landfill site. Usually, there are ads in the ‘free’ section of Craigslist where people can let you come and pick it up. It will save them money so they are more than happy to let you take them.
Many major contractors are even providing it for free, and some will even supply it! Driveways and patios are the best outlets since they are flat and easy to stack. Destroyed concrete walls or slabs might make bad retaining walls as they can have rebar in them.
Make sure you don’t overload your truck or trailer because the concrete is heavy. You’re going to be overloaded long before the bed is complete. Concrete is a very dense material so it’s good to load your truck or trailer carefully. This way you avoid damage to your vehicle, check its carrying capacity, and plan accordingly.
Building the broken concrete wall
Once you’ve got a big pile of broken concrete, all you’ll need is a shovel, a hand tamper, and some base rock to start with. Next, take the largest pieces out of your stack. They’re going to go on the bottom row.
Step 1: Measure how wide the concrete parts are and dig a trench that is at least as wide. Foot or two wider when creating a French drain next to it. Also deep enough to be a quarter of the total height of the wall.
A French drain, for those new to it, is a drain next to our retaining wall. It’s a perforated pipe under the gravel that will help the water to travel away. If the concrete retaining wall is in a watery place, it might be worth considering.
Consult with the contractor or engineer before installing a wall that is more than three feet high above the ground. Go three more inches deeper if you use base rock. This is not absolutely necessary but is recommended. It will improve the stability of your wall.
Step 2: When your retaining wall trench has been dug, make sure the bottom is smooth and tamp down any loose soil. This will make our building easier as the ground won’t be giving in when the weight starts to add. Then pour about four inches of loose baser on the rim. Flatten it out, too, and tamp it down. It’s meant to be lightweight down to around three inches.
Now you’re ready to start the first row.
Step 3: Play around with various combinations of pieces to see which ones fit together. Getting to know the pieces you’re working with is the most important thing you can do to create a good wall. You might even sort them by size and shape when you unload your truck or trailer to make it easier.
Sorting them is not actually more work as it will save you time. You have to lift them off anyway. It’s way easier to pick them from the sorted ground than try to look them up from the vehicle.
Step 4: Make sure the top of the row is level. It is useful to use the bubble level for this. The row should stay at a uniform width. The retaining wall is only as strong as the base that it’s built on so take your time doing it.
Use loose dirt or baser to fill under pieces and level the row. Then use small pieces to fill with the width behind the large ones. Don’t use small bits in front of big ones.
Step 5: For each row, use progressively smaller bits. The retaining walls should not be vertical. They should lean back ten degrees to the ground they retain. This way the retaining wall won’t flip over so easily due to the land weight.
Fill the dirt behind every row after it’s constructed. This way it’s going to be easier to build the next row partially on top of this dirt. You could also tamp it so it will be compact to build upon.
Step 6: Putting the filter cloth behind the wall is a safe way to prevent the mud and the soil from leaking in. It is necessary to have it in place right after building the first row. Then use gravel instead of loose dirt for leveling.
Now our broken concrete retaining wall is ready. French drains are a smart option in a rainy location with clay soils. The construction of one of these with a broken concrete retaining wall needs some preparation.
Recycling materials is always a good thing in my book and projects such as these are a good way to put these things back to use. These broken concrete retaining walls are exactly like that, taking something that would be useless in landfills and putting them back there where they will serve you.
Broken concrete landscaping can also look old-school good. Like things build in the past when most of the things we see today are made on the spot. It can be a nice decoration point if you like to make your garden or yard look a bit historical.
It’s also good for the wallet as most people will want to get rid of these as they are heavy and they would have to pay to get rid of them. This way of doing landscaping is the best as most of the time others are more than ready to put their hand in your pocket.
The best result will be if you get a little grass growing here and there on the retaining wall. It will mask the pieces a little bit and it will be a finishing touch for the wall. You can also try to get something else to grow in the concrete surface if you want to take it a little further.