January 12, 2018

How Does Reinforcement Grid Work?

Written by: Rich LovdalLet’s talk about how geogrid reinforcing mesh works in a Segmental Retaining Wall (SRW)
Geogrid Reinforcement
such as Allan Block. The most common type of geogrid is a polyester coated mesh.  Lightweight grids are typically Bi-Axial, meaning that their transverse and longitudinal (in the roll direction) strands are the same strength and these grids are more common in residential applications. Commercial strength geogrids are Uni-Axial meaning their longitudinal strands are stronger than the transverse strands.  Using these Uni-Axial geogrids in a retaining wall means that you must roll the grid layers out perpendicular to the wall so the strong members are running perpendicular to the wall providing the most shear strength to the wall structure.

Geogrid is typically placed in horizontal layers and has openings between the directional strands that form a mesh.  The mesh interacts with the compacted soil to provide extra lateral strength to the soil particles similar to how reinforcing steel adds the same to concrete.  If there is a load applied to the reinforced mass, the force will travel down diagonally through the soil and intersect the grid layers putting them into tension.  The geogrid strands resist these forces strengthening the soil.  The more layers of grid within a soil structure, the more internal strength the mass has to resist higher loads. This simple video shows how geogrid resists the internal forces from outside forces.




Specifically in SRW design, the grid combines with the Allan Block facing and the compacted soil to form what the industry calls a coherent gravity mass.  This mass works as a composite unit to resist any outside forces from surcharges above the wall like roadways or slopes or internal forces from the active soil forces or seismic events.    

For more information on how grid works please visit our website or see our Allan Block Tech Sheet #396.

November 24, 2017

They Don’t Build Them Like They Use To...

Written by: Chad Julius
We have all heard that statement and maybe even uttered those words ourselves.  Right now, I am not a fan of them.  Coming off the Thanksgiving Holidays I found myself with a refrigerator that stopped working and the thing is about 10 years old.  I have a refrigerator in my garage that is about 30 and works just fine.  Why is it that new products are bright and shiny, but lack in quality?  Are we at that point in our culture that quality doesn’t matter? 





To me it does.  I guess that is why I enjoy working in the hardscapes industry and at Allan Block.  The opposite is true for our industry.  The blocks that were manufactured 30 years ago, are not of the same quality that we see produced today.  We have learned a few things over the years.  





Additionally, with the emphasis on proper design and training we know that the final constructed walls are also better.  So, in our industry the statement of, “They don’t build them like they used to,” is actually a good thing.




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!