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When to use geogrid in retaining walls?

Retaining walls are a great way to add structure and beauty to your landscape, but they can also be expensive and time-consuming to build. Geogrid is a synthetic material that can be used to reinforce retaining walls, making them more stable and durable. But when is it necessary to use geogrid in retaining walls?

What is geogrid?

Geogrids are synthetic materials used to strengthen soil and other similar materials. It is made from high-strength polymer plastics, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, or polyester. Geogrids are made up of a network of vertical and horizontal ribs that form grid-like openings (apertures).

When to use geogrid in retaining walls?

Following are some of the situations in which geogrid should be used in retaining walls:

  • Walls taller than 3-4 feet.

As a general rule of thumb, geogrid is recommended for all retaining walls taller than 3-4 feet. This is because taller walls have to withstand more lateral pressure from the soil behind them.

  • Walls in poor soil conditions.

Geogrid can help to stabilize and reinforce poor soil conditions, making them more suitable for use in retaining walls.

  • Walls with steep slopes. 

If there is a steep slope behind a retaining wall, geogrid can help to prevent the wall from failing due to the increased lateral pressure.

  • For walls with heavy loads. 

If there is a heavy load on top of a retaining wall, such as a driveway or patio, geogrid can help to distribute the load more evenly and prevent the wall from failing.

  • For tiered walls.

Tiered walls are more complex to build and require more support than single-tier walls. Geogrid can help to reinforce tiered walls and make them more stable.

Even if your retaining wall does not meet all of the above criteria, it is still a good idea to use geogrid. Geogrid can help to extend the lifespan of your retaining wall and make it more resistant to failure.

If you are unsure whether or not you need to use geogrid in your retaining wall, it is always best to consult with a professional engineer or geotechnical consultant.

How does geogrid work in retaining walls?

Geogrid works by increasing the shear strength of the reinforced soil mass. This means that the soil can better resist the lateral earth pressures that are pushing against the retaining wall.

Geogrid works in two ways:

  1. Interlocking: The geogrid interlocks with the soil particles, creating a more cohesive and stable mass.
  2. Confinement: The geogrid confines the soil particles, preventing them from moving and shifting.

This combination of interlocking and confinement gives the reinforced soil mass the strength and stability to resist the lateral earth pressures and support the retaining wall.

Geogrid is particularly effective in reinforcing retaining walls built in soft or unstable soils. It can also be used to reinforce taller retaining walls that would otherwise require more expensive and complex foundation systems.

Benefits of using geogrid in retaining walls

Below are some of the benefits of using geogrid in retaining walls:

  • Increased stability:

Geogrids help to reinforce the soil behind the retaining wall, preventing it from shifting and collapsing. This is especially important for taller retaining walls and those in areas with poor soil conditions.

  • Extended lifespan:

Geogrids can help to extend the lifespan of a retaining wall by protecting it from erosion and weathering. They can also help to prevent the wall from cracking and settling over time.

  • Reduced material costs:

Geogrids can help to reduce the amount of material needed to construct a retaining wall. This is because geogrids allow for steeper slopes and thinner walls.

  • Improved drainage:

Geogrids can help to improve drainage behind the retaining wall, preventing water from accumulating and putting pressure on the wall. This can help to prevent the wall from failing.

  • Reduced maintenance costs:

Geogrids can help to reduce the maintenance costs of a retaining wall by protecting it from damage. This can save money in the long run.

  • Environment friendly:

Geogrids can also be used to create more environmentally friendly retaining walls. For example, geogrids can be used to create retaining walls that are planted with vegetation. This can help to reduce soil erosion and create a more natural-looking structure.

Overall, geogrids are a valuable tool for improving the stability, lifespan, and cost-effectiveness of retaining walls. They are a good choice for a variety of applications, including residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

How to choose the right geogrid for your retaining wall?

When choosing a geogrid for your retaining wall, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Tensile strength:

This is the most important factor, as it determines how much force the geogrid can withstand. The tensile strength should be selected to match the design requirements of the retaining wall, which are based on the height of the wall, the type of soil, and the anticipated loads.

  • Aperture stability modulus:

This is a measure of the geogrid’s resistance to deformation. A higher aperture stability modulus means that the geogrid will be less likely to stretch or deform under load. This is important for retaining walls, as it helps to ensure that the wall remains stable over time.

  • Flexural stiffness:

This is a measure of the geogrid’s resistance to bending. A higher flexural stiffness means that the geogrid will be better able to distribute loads evenly and prevent the wall from bulging. This is important for taller retaining walls.

  • Durability:

Geogrids should be made of durable materials that can withstand the harsh conditions of outdoor use. This includes resistance to UV rays, chemicals, and extreme temperatures.

  • Type:

It is also important to consider the type of retaining wall that you are building. Geogrids are available in a variety of configurations, such as:

  • untickedBiaxial
  • untickedUniaxial
  • untickedTriaxial

Biaxial geogrids are the most common type for retaining walls, as they provide reinforcement in both directions.

Uniaxial geogrids provide reinforcement in one direction, while triaxial geogrids provide reinforcement in all three directions.

How to install geogrid in a retaining wall?

To install geogrid in a retaining wall, follow these steps:

Step 1: Prepare the ground.

The ground behind the retaining wall should be level and compacted. Remove any debris or vegetation. If the ground is soft, you may need to add a layer of gravel or sand to create a firm base.

Step 2: Lay the geogrid.

Place the geogrid against the back of the retaining wall, with the leading edge extending 12-18 inches into the compacted backfill. Roll out the geogrid smoothly, and overlap the edges by at least 12 inches.

Step 3: Backfill the wall.

Begin backfilling the wall with compacted soil, sand, or gravel. Place the material in 6-inch lifts and compact each lift thoroughly. As you backfill, continue to roll out the geogrid, placing it between each lift of backfill.

Once the wall is backfilled to the desired height, compact the final lift of backfill thoroughly. You may also want to add a layer of mulch or topsoil to the top of the backfill to help prevent erosion.

We have some additional tips for installing geogrid in a retaining wall:

  • Make sure that the geogrid is taut and free of wrinkles.
  • Anchor the geogrid to the retaining wall using geotextile staples or spikes.
  • Overlap the geogrid at the edges by at least 12 inches.
  • Compact the backfill thoroughly between each lift of the geogrid.

If you are unsure about how to install geogrid in a retaining wall, it is always best to consult with a professional engineer or contractor.

Common mistakes to avoid:

Given are few mistakes to avoid while installing geogrids in a retaining wall:

  • Not using geogrid at all.

Geogrids can significantly improve the strength and stability of a retaining wall, especially taller or heavily loaded walls. If you are building a retaining wall that is more than 3 feet tall or that will be supporting a lot of weight, it is important to use geogrid.

  • Using the wrong type of geogrid.

There are different types of geogrids designed for different applications. When choosing a geogrid for your retaining wall, be sure to select one that is rated for the height and load of your wall.

  • Not installing the geogrid properly.

Geogrids must be installed correctly in order to be effective. The geogrid should be placed behind each layer of retaining wall blocks and should be embedded in the backfill material.

  • Not using enough geogrid.

It is important to use the correct amount of geogrid for your retaining wall. Too little geogrid will not provide sufficient reinforcement, while too much geogrid can be wasteful.

  • Not installing drainage. 

Proper drainage is essential for any retaining wall, but it is especially important for walls that are reinforced with geogrid. Water that builds up behind the wall can create hydrostatic pressure, which can damage the geogrid and the wall itself.


How much does geogrid cost?

The cost of geogrid varies depending on the type, thickness, and strength of the material. It typically ranges from $1 to $5 per square yard.

Can I install geogrid myself?

Yes, you can install geogrid yourself. Even though, it is vital to strictly comply with the manufacturer’s instructions. 

All you have to do is to:

Prepare the subgrade. This involves leveling the ground and removing any debris.

Install a geotextile layer. This fabric will help to separate the geogrid from the subgrade and prevent the migration of fines.

Roll out the geogrid over the geotextile layer. Make sure that the geogrid is smooth and free of wrinkles.

Anchor the geogrid in place. This can be done with staples, stakes, or pins.

Place the fill material over the geogrid. Make sure to compact the fill material thoroughly.

Jordan jam

I am Jordan, a construction estimator from Texas with 9 years of experience. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and expertise with others, and I do this through my website, On my website, I offer a variety of resources for people who are interested in learning more about construction estimating, including blog posts, articles, and videos. I am excited to be sharing my knowledge and experience with you through Builders Bee. I believe that everyone has the potential to be a successful construction estimator, and I am committed to providing the resources and support you need to achieve your goals.

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