November 17, 2017

Can I build a seating wall or parapet above my existing retaining wall?

Written by: Ryan Miller
We often find ourselves needing a seating wall or parapet above our retaining wall for a variety of reasons such as a raised patio with seating areas on the outer edge.  Parapets or seating walls are perfect to place on top of your retaining wall and selecting the correct products will ensure a great look and a long-lasting project. 

Our AB Courtyard Collection is a two sided seat wall product that is often used with our AB Collection or AB Europa Collection to mirror the same texture and colors – visit your local distribution partner to review these products.  This product can be placed directly on top of your retaining wall to provide additional seating on your patio and/or to define an outdoor room. 

If you are building with Allan Block Fieldstone, a parapet wall above your retaining wall may be the right choice.  Parapets extend above the retaining wall and are double sided and may provide the look and functionality you need to finish off your project.  Find more information online about parapets and proper construction of such structures.  

November 10, 2017

How do I start a curve from a straight wall with AB Courtyard?

Written by: Gerri Hansen
The AB York block is the block to use to build a curve with the AB Courtyard system as it offers 2 different sizes on each side of the block.  By placing the longer sides of the blocks together it will build the wall creating a curve.  To turn the opposite direction, the initial angle starting the curve from the straight section will need to be changed in the opposite direction.  When building curves it is best to build two courses at the same time so the blocks align properly.

October 27, 2017

Fall Cleanup - Prepping for a Green Spring

Written by: Kyle Huerd
It’s that time of the year again…Fall Clean-up.  That’s right, fall cleanup and not the typical spring cleaning that we are all a custom to.  Why wait all winter long with leaves, trash, or the ever-dreaded dog feces when you can clean things up and save you a wide range of heavy lifting next spring.

Most people don’t know that to create a healthy lawn for the summer, it all begins in the fall, prior to the big freeze.  If you don’t pick up the fallen leaves or the dog feces that has been dropped over the summer, you could be strangulating your lawn and the grass will not be able to truly get the nutrients to come back in the springtime green, thick, and healthy.

By raking leaves thoroughly in the fall, you reduce the risk of a fungal disease of grass which is referred to as “snow mold.”  You will also clean up the grass and pull out the dead grass that has been in place all summer which provides the surrounding area to get more nutrients and fill back in when the spring thaw takes place.  This is the simplest of forms when it comes to aerating a lawn.  You have seen or used companies that come out and do this to a higher degree in the fall time.  Why not naturally aerate your lawn while saving you the hard work in the spring?

For perennial beds, you will want to remove any dead leaves and stalks from this year’s perennials.  Since I personally didn’t do this portion in 2016, but my wife likes to use a common house hold scissors to cut specific stalks and get into tight locations.

When it comes to pet feces, simply cleaning it up in the “now” is always better than later.  I’m speaking from experience.  Not only will your yard be cleaner and healthier, but pet feces can carry a wide range of diseases and illnesses even if your pet does not have them.  A simple cleanup can make sure you don’t have an unwanted material stuck to your shoe when the temperature rises in the springtime!

October 20, 2017

Retaining Wall Construction: Do I really need a permit?

Are you thinking of building an Allan Block retaining wall, fence, or courtyard patio? If so, you may be wondering “Do I need a building permit to do this job?” or “How tall can I build this wall before I need a permit?” You are not alone. This is a very common question when it comes to building patios, fences, and retaining walls.

Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer to either of these questions. Every state, city, county, and municipality is varied in what they require a building permit for. Below is an excerpt from the City of Saint Paul on what they require a building permit for. As you can see the city requires a permit for any fence application. When building a retaining wall over four feet tall a building permit is required. A simple Google search ought to turn up similar documents for your local city. You can’t find your local permit requirements via the internet? Try calling your local city offices. Ask to speak to somebody in the Department of Safety and Inspections. Somebody in their office should be able to provide you with your local permit requirements for any and all applications.

Once you’ve sorted out whether or not you need a permit, you might want to consider hiring an AB Certified Contractor. Our Certified Contractors are well versed in how to install all of our AB Products. They are well versed in both our Best Practices and Commercial Installation Manual. This will ensure whether you’re building an AB Fence, Courtyard, or Retaining Wall project it will stand the test of time for many years.

October 13, 2017

How Do I Add a Drain Pipe to My Retaining Wall?

Drain pipes within a retaining wall are designed to remove incidental water that may collect at the base of the wall.  The primary water management happens above and below the wall where grading and surface materials are designed to efficiently remove water before it saturates the retaining wall system.  
A toe drain pipe should be located at the back of the wall rock behind the wall as close to the bottom of the wall as allowed while still maintaining a positive gradient for drainage to daylight, or a stormwater management system.  

Level Sites

For site configurations with bottoms of the base on a level plane it is recommended that a minimum one percent gradient be maintained on the placement of the pipe with outlets on 50 feet (15 m) centers, or 100 feet (30 m) centers of pipe is crowned between the outlets.  This would provide for a maximum height above the bottom of the base in a flat configuration of no more than 6 inches (150 mm).

Drain Pipe

You can use rigid or flexible drain pipe.  For rigid pipes position the holes a down.  Allan Block does not require that toe drain pipes be wrapped when installed into base rock complying with the specified wall rock material.

Routing Water

On sites where the natural drop in grade exceeds the one percent minimum, drain pipes outlets should be on 100 foot (30m) centers maximum.  This will provide outlets in the event that excessive water flow exceeds the capacity of pipe over long stretches.

Raised Vents

When the drain pipe must be raised to accommodate outlets through the wall face, refer to the Allan Block Spec Book.