Retaining Walls in Tennessee – Why They Are Important and What to Consider

by | Aug 16, 2023

Tennessee’s renowned natural beauty and bustling cities, such as Nashville and Franklin, often overshadow the unsung heroes vital for maintaining these landscapes – retaining walls. These structures play a pivotal role in safeguarding not only the terrain, but also valuable properties.

Given the diverse climatic conditions across the state, like heavy rainfall and storms, the clay-rich soils tend to have limited drainage capacity that can lead to flooding and erosion. However, when complemented by well-constructed retaining walls, these issues can be effectively reduced. By adeptly channeling and filtering water, these walls ensure the integrity of the surrounding landscape.

Creating these walls is an art that demands meticulous material selection, precise engineering, and seamless integration with the natural environment. Recognizing the multitude of essential aspects within a retaining wall project, we are here to guide you in the process while offering insights into additional considerations.


The Importance of Retaining Walls in Tennessee

Retaining walls hold a crucial position in protecting Tennessee’s varied topography. Beyond their role in beautifying properties, these walls expertly convert sloped landscapes into practical, usable areas. Often strategically placed in spots demanding increased stability, they expertly combat soil erosion and landslides. Fundamentally, these walls are designed to defy gravity with precision, serving as a counterbalance. Whether you’re in an area marked by rolling hills or planning to enhance your yard’s layout, these walls fulfill a spectrum of essential roles, including:

  1. Erosion Mitigation: Given Tennessee’s variegated terrain and soil composition, erosion emerges as a significant concern. Retaining walls act as resilient barriers, counterbalancing the displacement of soil caused by gravitational forces and water movement.
  2. Effective Runoff Control: Conventional drainage methods often prove inadequate in managing the flow of water across Tennessee’s rolling topography. Retaining walls redirect the course of water and prevent the accumulation of surface water that could harm both nature and built environments.
  3. Flood Prevention: Tennessee’s vulnerability to intense rainfall and subsequent flooding necessitates reliable measures for flood prevention. Retaining walls confine the expansion of water bodies and provide a vital defense against flood-related destruction by upholding structural integrity.
  4. Enhanced Landscape Aesthetics: Retaining walls not only fulfill utilitarian functions, but also contribute to the visual allure of landscaping. Through skillful integration with the land’s contours, these walls give rise to terraced formations that impart depth and character to the landscape.
  5. Property Durability: Tennessee’s steep gradients and hills require a concern for property stability. Adding retaining walls can serve as a structural reinforcement by counteracting gravitational forces during extreme weather.


What Are the Longest-Lasting Retaining Walls?

When investing in retaining walls, it’s crucial to ensure they can withstand any weather challenges. If you’re aiming for the longest-lasting retaining walls, then pay attention to things like how they’re built, the support they provide, and how durable they are. While you have choices like wood, natural stone, and segmental blocks, concrete stands out as the top pick for stability.

Concrete is extremely strong, a key attribute when you need to hold up tons of earth and water. Concrete retaining walls have been known to last for more than a century, a testament to their remarkable resistance against deterioration. Much like concrete buildings resist cracking and erosion, concrete retaining walls exhibit the same endurance. After installation, concrete retaining walls actually continue to cure in place – which further increases the strength of the wall. In short, concrete retaining walls are known to be fireproof, rustproof, and rot-proof, making them super-resistant to natural damage.

In terms of aesthetics, concrete offers the flexibility and ease to incorporate curves, angles, or staircases into the retaining wall design. Some even choose to pour concrete in a manner that mimics the appearance of mortar stone. For those who are looking for high quality at an attractive mid-range price, concrete retaining walls are the way to go!


The Most Expensive Type of Retaining Wall

Undoubtedly, natural stone stands out as the pinnacle of opulence when it comes to selecting materials for a retaining wall. The choice of materials for a retaining wall has two key factors contributing to the comprehensive cost analysis. The variation relies not only on the type of stone selected, but also on the distance from the property to the supplier.

With a range from $25 to $75 per square foot, the cost of natural stone retaining walls showcases the pronounced impact of this premium material. On average, this option can cost approximately $50 per square foot. Although expensive for larger-sized retaining walls, it proves to be an investment that adds value to your property and elevates the entire landscaping.


Are Retaining Walls a Good Investment?

Whether you’re contemplating the installation of retaining walls for residential or commercial properties, the benefits remain consistent for both choices. Beyond their renowned capacity to enhance property value and visual aesthetics, these walls deliver far more than mere appearances.

In Nashville and Franklin, retaining walls play a pivotal role in safeguarding your property against erosion and structural compromise. Given the frequency of severe storms causing floods and landslides, investing substantially in quality retaining walls is a wise approach. These walls help maintain the integrity of your property and landscaping by safeguarding them from potential damage.


Avoiding Retaining Wall Problems: Tips for Success

Improperly installed retaining walls can lead to significant issues on your property, particularly during storms. Instead of effectively holding its position and facilitating proper water drainage, a poorly engineered retaining wall can exacerbate flooding in your landscaping.

To avoid property damage due to rain, it is important to hire the expertise of professionals well-versed in Tennessee’s soil composition and climatic conditions. Failing to account for the specific soil characteristics in Tennessee, along with factors like slope angles and loading conditions on the soil, can all contribute to potential problems. As a general guideline, conducting regular inspections of your retaining walls is advisable, keeping an eye out for the following conditions:

  1. Cracks
  2. Leaning or tilting
  3. Bulging
  4. Soil erosion
  5. Accumulated water

If you notice any of these warning signs on or around your retaining wall, then you will want to take quick action. While you may be handy with a DIY project, this situation is not the time to attempt it yourself since it has an impact on your property and surrounding properties. Professionals will be able to assess the problem and follow through with the necessary repairs or reinforcement specific to your retaining wall. By catching it early, you can extend the life of your retaining wall, as well as, reduce the risk of additional damage.


Key Considerations When Building Retaining Walls in Tennessee

Before starting the construction process, it’s crucial to ensure that the individuals responsible for building your retaining walls adhere to specific guidelines. As previously mentioned, without a professional following key considerations, your retaining wall runs the risk of being a failure. Let’s take a look at some of the top things every licensed professional should be taking into account before starting your retaining wall project.

  1. Climate Variability: Take into account the fluctuations in temperatures and patterns of precipitation in Tennessee. This analysis involves crafting the wall to endure these changes while maintaining its structural integrity.
  2. Effective Drainage: Integrate efficient drainage systems into the design to effectively manage water runoff and prevent erosion. This proactive approach safeguards the wall’s stability over the long term.
  3. Selecting the Right Materials: Choose materials that can withstand Tennessee’s weather conditions while blending aesthetically with the local surroundings. For instance, while a wood retaining wall might fare well in drier states, the frequent rain and flooding in Tennessee would lead to wood rot.
  4. Compliance with Regulations: Adhere to local TN construction regulations and obtain any necessary permits. Tennessee has specific guidelines governing construction projects, including those related to retaining walls. Learn more here.
  5. Thorough Soil Analysis: Undertake a comprehensive analysis of the soil composition and slope stability. This analysis informs the design of a wall capable of withstanding the pressure exerted by the retained earth.

By keeping these considerations in mind and enlisting the expertise of licensed professionals, you can ensure the successful and durable construction of your retaining walls in Tennessee.




About Reed Land & Hardscaping

Protect your construction and land development projects by adding retaining walls. Our functional, yet beautiful walls are proven to minimize the potential for soil erosion and flooding on site. Our team is dedicated to ensuring the efficient drainage of excess rainfall at your commercial properties, no matter what the weather conditions may be in Middle Tennessee.

Reed Landscaping is Middle Tennessee’s most distinguished landscape construction, hardscape, and site contractor. There’s no commercial job that Reed Landscaping can’t handle – especially when it comes to retaining walls! With vast experience in installing retaining walls in cities like Nashville, Franklin, and Brentwood, Reed Landscaping can provide professional commercial services for a project of any size. With the recent launch of our new website, Reed Landscaping is excited to showcase our completed projects and retaining wall pictures here.

If you’re ready to start your commercial project, then please reach out to Reed Landscaping. Our team of retaining wall experts will help you achieve the look and feel you are searching for on your next commercial or government construction project.

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