The most important consideration in proper design and installation of retaining walls is to recognize and counteract the fact that the retained material is attempting to move forward and downslope due to gravity. This creates lateral earth pressure behind the wall which depends on the angle of internal friction (phi) and the cohesive strength (c) of the retained material, as well as the direction and magnitude of movement the retaining structure undergoes.
Lateral earth pressures are zero at the top of the wall and - in homogenous ground - increase proportionally to a maximum value at the lowest depth. Earth pressures will push the wall forward or overturn it if not properly addressed. Also, any groundwater behind the wall that is not dissipated by a drainage system causes hydrostatic pressure on the wall. The total pressure or thrust may be assumed to act at one-third from the lowest depth for lengthwise stretches of uniform height.
Unless the wall is designed to retain water, it is important to have proper drainage behind the wall in order to limit the pressure to the wall's design value. Drainage materials will reduce or eliminate the hydrostatic pressure and improve the stability of the material behind the wall. Drystone retaining walls are normally self-draining.
A proper retaining wall design to ensures stability against overturning, sliding, excessive foundation pressure and water uplift, critereas that are insured by designing them for a minimum safety factor in static conditions of:
- 1.3 against lateral sliding and
- 1.5 for overturning;
- 1.1 against lateral sliding
- 1.3 for overturning.
Retaining wall types:
For an advanced study on choosing the proper retaining wall solution for a specific case study you can check out the following pdf !