Home>Discussions>YARD & GARDEN>Gravel base for retaining wall: Clear or with fines?
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Gravel base for retaining wall: Clear or with fines?

I've pored over endless sites and books and haven't gotten a definitive answer to this one.

Clear gravel would seem to allow better drainage than with fines, which when solidly compacted can become nearly impermeable. Lots of instructions call for the base material by names that aren't used by any of my local materials suppliers and seem to have differing definitions depending on where you look. (Road base, compactable gravel, etc.)So if you can describe the actual product you think is proper, that would be great.

I've seen pictures that show clear materials and materials with fines, but no one with an engineering degree citing any kind of code spec that I could translate to my local supplier's terminology. They basically use size and clear or with fines (e.g., 5/8 with fines, 1-1/2 clear, etc.). They do not carry decomposed granite, which gets used and cited for a lot of purposes by Roger on TOH.

Definitely clear compacted gravel behind the wall for drainage there; just wondering if there's a right or wrong answer between clear and with fines for the base under the wall.


Re: Gravel base for retaining wall: Clear or with fines?

How high a wall are we speaking about? Soil composition matters too. both for water flow and stability; looser soils will apply more pressure to the wall. What about groundwater, lots of it? If the wall is going to have to hold much a concrete foundation may be the way to go and if you need soil treatment under it for softness mechanically compacted 3/4" gravel with or without fines will work for that, but with fines is then preferable unless you have lots of groundwater. Without details there's no one single answer here.


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