Retaining walls in Ontario – things to know

Things to know when building a retaining wall in the backyard in Ontario

When building a retaining wall in your backyard in Ontario,
there are several important things you should know and consider to ensure a successful and compliant construction.
Here are some key points to keep in mind:

What you’ll learn
  • Local Regulations and Permits: Check with your local municipality to determine if there are any specific regulations or permits required for building a retaining wall on your property. Some areas may have height restrictions or setback requirements that you need to follow.
  • Hire a Professional: Depending on the size and complexity of the retaining wall, it may be best to hire a professional contractor with experience in building retaining walls. They can ensure proper design, construction, and adherence to local codes.
  • Drainage: Proper drainage is crucial for retaining walls to prevent water buildup and pressure behind the wall, which can cause failure. Ensure that the wall has adequate drainage systems, such as weep holes or gravel backfill, to direct water away from the wall.
  • Foundation and Base: The base of the retaining wall is essential for stability. It should be constructed on a solid, compacted foundation to support the weight of the wall and the soil it retains. The type of soil on your property and the height of the wall will influence the foundation design.
  • Materials: Choose appropriate materials for the retaining wall based on your budget, design preferences, and the wall’s intended function. Common materials include concrete blocks, bricks, natural stones, or timber.
  • Wall Design and Slope: The design and slope of the wall depend on the height of the wall and the soil it retains. Proper engineering and design are crucial to ensure the wall can withstand the lateral pressure exerted by the retained soil.
  • Backfill Material: Use suitable backfill material behind the wall to provide proper drainage and support. Coarse gravel or crushed stone is often used for this purpose.
  • Consideration for Frost: In Ontario’s climate, frost can be a significant concern. Ensure the retaining wall is designed to withstand the freezing and thawing cycles without damage.
  • Safety Considerations: If the retaining wall is near any walking paths, decks, or other structures, ensure that it is built with safety in mind, and there are no hazards or trip points.
  • Inspections: Depending on local regulations, your retaining wall may require inspections at different stages of construction. Be aware of these requirements and ensure compliance.

Before starting any construction, it’s essential to consult with a professional contractor or engineer to evaluate your
specific site conditions and design a retaining wall that meets safety standards and local regulations. A well-built
retaining wall can enhance the aesthetics of your backyard and provide necessary support to prevent soil erosion and sloping issues.