August 26, 2016

Retaining Wall Planning for All Seasons

While it is hot outside now and snow is the last thing on our minds, it is important to consider when designing retaining walls in areas where the beautiful white flakes fall. For those of us this live in areas where snow is a part of winter life, one must consider the plowing process and understand where snow may be dumped on a site.  Even though it is seasonal, the wall design may need to account for additional weight of large piles of snow, which can add significant weight to the wall as well as the future water (snow melt) that will occur to ensure they do not cause the wall to fail. 

Snow, just as a pool, driveway, parking lot and many other items may act as a surcharge (or load) on a retaining wall that sits below it.  When the wall is below a parking lot or drive, the placement of snow is often times the last thing anyone considers.  

Asking the question about the placement of snow and potentially designing for the surcharge may be the best route.  Educating the owners on the negatives of placing large piles of snow on top of a retaining wall is a great practice as well.  If you have any questions as you design your segmental retaining wall, please feel free to call us at any time.

Allan Block Corp.
(800) 899-5309

August 19, 2016

How Much Does an AB Classic Retaining Wall Block Weigh?

Allan Block AB Classic blocks are used in many commercial and residential applications so better understand this popular retaining wall block, here is a comparison that we think you can relate to. 

What Weighs the Same as a 75 lbs AB Classic Block?

1.  An Adult German Shepherd.  The AB Classic blocks are a bit easier to carry than ake a wiggling moving hairy dog. But it won't fetch the paper for you either.

2.  Three 2 year olds.  These are a little harder to contain than one dog, but trying to weigh at the same time could be a fun summer afternoon event. 

3.  Nine Gallons of Water.  For those math people out there (you know who you are), this is just a numbers thing. Weight for weight. Get out the kiddie pool...

4.  37,500 M&M’s.  The candy -  not the fun animated characters.  I am currently working on this comparison one candy at a time.

5.  100 FULL Cans of Beer.  But you don't have to take our word for it, do your own testing.  Or maybe find out how many EMPTY Cans of Beer it takes... (best call in some friends to help with this one).

What other items  can we compare AB Classics to?  Try your own experiments and share them  with us.  The next time you get started on a retaining wall project - just remember, AB Classics are easier to install than it is to round up  three 2 years olds but not as fun as drinking 100 cans of beer.

To all those AB Certified Contractors that move and install these blocks everyday creating beautiful landscapes and outdoor living areas for their customers - Keep up the good work! 

August 12, 2016

Reclaiming a Backyard

Living by a County Road that continues to grow in the number of vehicles makes it difficult to enjoy my backyard.  When my family and I moved in the neighbors described it as an “Urban Ocean”.  Now these are not gentle waves washing up on a beach, but a V8 engine roaring off a stoplight.  Then combine the fact that the wooded fence I did have was falling over after any gust of wind made it a scenario that needed attention.

Looking for a durable product that worked as a sound barrier that didn’t break the bank was a struggle, but the AB Fence provided the solutions.  All my neighbors agreed and the homeowners associated spearheaded the effort to replace the existing wooden fence with an 8-ft concrete block AB Fence. 

With a beautiful AB Fence providing the barrier I needed I was able to landscape my backyard with the fence as the backdrop.  Installing a fire pit, pool and concrete patio made our backyard the retreat we were looking for.

July 15, 2016

Gardening Above Ground

 Raised gardens can soften the feel of your outdoor space and create an enjoyable and inviting area in your landscaping. They are great for growing plants, flowers or even vegetables and herbs. 

Building a raised garden helps bring the ground to up a more comfortable working area, reducing time spent bending down when weeding or when maintenance is needed. 

Incorporating irrigation in the planters is very helpful and brings even more maintenance free to the design.  With the planter open to the ground below, overwatering is unlikely which allows the healthy plant roots to grow further down into the soil.

Raised planters can be built as standalone applications, or be incorporated within our retaining walls to soften the feel of the landscaping.  

Filling with a good planting soil will benefit your plants and allow them to thrive, which limits weeds and offers a rewarding planter to use and enjoy all season.

July 8, 2016

4 Ways to Manage Water on a Sloping Yard

 Manage water runoff and turn your sloping hillside into usable space with the help retaining walls.  By adding a retaining wall, water runoff and drainage around your home can be controlled to protect from erosion or water damage to the buildings at the same time incorporating more space. 

When considering a change to the landscaping a thorough understanding of the site to determine where water will come from and how it will be managed should be completed.  Here are three options.

  1. Water can be routed using swales.  A swale is a small ditch that creates a path for water to be directed to an outlet.
  2. Adding a berm above a retaining wall in another one way to manage water runoff.  A berm is a mounded area where grass or plantings can divert the water.  The pre-existing slope perhaps.
  3. Incorporating more than one retaining wall when trying to manage large slopes allows the creation of a terracing effect.  This will add additional landscaping areas or gardens creating a natural looking environment.
  4. Creating a dry well to divert and collect the water giving it time to penetrate the soil.
There are other solutions when working with slopes and managing water runoff.  Visit for installation information and details on designing for slopes and managing water when incorporating retaining walls into your landscaping.