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Landscaping & Design/3' retaining brick wall on sandy soil


I'm planing on building a retaining wall 30' away from my new house the soil is sandy no draining issues.   do i need to back fill it with rock or just on the bottom of the wall?

thank you in advance.

It depends on a couple of factors, such as the total length of your 3 ft.wall (20 feet versus 200 feet long!!), if you provide "weep holes" at the base (I usually omit a vertical mortar joint between the base coarse bricks/concrete masonry units about every 6 to 8 feet), if the area above the wall is sloped or flat, and how the foundation is tied to the brickwork. If the wall is under three feet (36") I usually don't backfill it completely with drain rocks.   I do try and provide a path of escape for any water that gets behind the wall...and sandy soil is pretty darn porous stuff.

Imagine a wave of solid water hitting the back of your wall.  Would it withstand the pressure? Water weighs almost 9 lbs. per gallon.  A square foot of water is 7-1/2 gallons.  Even a simple 3 ft. x 20 ft. wall has to hold back over 3 tons of weight.

Factor all that in, then no I don't think you need to fill it to the top with rock, but please do add some.

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Marc Chapelle, RLA


I am a licensed Landscape Architect. I can answer general questions about style and design, give you ideas and suggestions for site amenities, help with larger site-planning issues, or perhaps give guidance for recreational amenities & park design. IF YOU ARE GOING TO ASK FOR A PLANT SUGGESTION GO HERE: I prefer you ask somebody else why your petunias are not as perky as they should be; I'd LOVE to tell you how those petunias can increase your home's value!


20+ years of working with homeowners, contractors, developers and local civil engineering/architecture firms. I am located in the dry Great Basin area (Greater Nevada/Utah), so the use of landscape materials OTHER than plants is emphasized. As a licensed Landscape Architect I've worked on both the East and West Coasts.


BSLA in Landscape Architecture,Licensed in NV, CA, & VA - but can answer Q's across the country Many additional seminars, educational venues, and classes (both taught & attended)

Awards and Honors
Best Multifamily project, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association Best Model Home Landscaping, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association

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