Reggie's retaining walls

Ask the pros- June, 2002
By Reggie Bullard




      I would  like to create a retaining wall.  My intention was to use
cement block.  My question is can I back fill against the stucco?  I do not
want people to see the block wall if possible however do want the stability
of the cement wall.
Reggie's stucco retaining walls

                                         Reggie's Ideal retaining wall
                                              Top section
    Not every detail here is 100% necessary, but it isn't much to do it right.
    Starting from the top, it is important that water doesn't run behind the stucco, popping it off. The ideal cap for the top is brick or stone angled down for a drip edge. As an alternative, the top can be coated with stucco and rounded off, or angled. This method works, but isn't as good, because the stucco cap can spall due to water sitting on the top.
    The back side of the wall needs to be parged with portland cement mortar, or better yet, waterproof portland.
    The parging can be coated with waterproofing, but this is optional. However, it is cheap insurance against leaks that can pop off the stucco.
    Stucco should be a full 3/4" thick to prevent cracks at the block joints. Also, it should be done by experience plasterers to avoid seeing the block joints.Reggie's stucco retaining walls
                                              Bottom section
    The bottom should have weep holes (drainage holes) to prevent water from running through the wall. PVC pipe works good because it doesn't rust. The advantage of the pipe
is it carries the water away from the wall, instead of allowing water to get behind the wall, causing damage and staining.
It is also a good idea to fill the back with gravel for drainage. Note how I have  the end of the pipe wrapped with screen to prevent clogging.