Pittsburgh Driveway Retaining Wall

“I remember Francis Bacon would say that he felt he was giving art what he thought it previously lacked. With me, it’s what Yeats called the fascination with what’s difficult. I’m only trying to do what I can’t do.”
Lucian Freud

Driveway Retaining Walls in Pittsburgh

Driveway retaining walls are used in two different applications: to either retain or prevent soil from occupying the space that the driveway needs to function, or support the load created by the driveway above the retaining wall.  In each application, the main design issue is stability. Whether you have a concrete, asphalt, or paver driveway, we are the Pittsburgh retaining wall experts you can trust to keep you and your home safe!

Stability needs to consider the following points: soil & rock make up, steep slopes, cohesive soils, settlement, ground water elevation, subsurface mines, location of all structures and other engineered walls.

A good example of soil stability and how geology in Western Pa., can effect  and influence designs, is the commercial retail project that was to have been built in Killbuk on Rt. 65 (Northwest of Pittsburgh, near Emsworth)  in September of 2006, where a massive landslide closed Rt. 65, as well as the railroad tracks running alongside the road.  In this case,  a major excavation project undertaken to put in place a super center on the site of a previous hospital uncovered serious geological fault lines, which when disturbed,  unleashed a huge landslide on the private and public access ways at the base of the hill.  Therefore, given the natural geographic features of Western Pennsylvania it is important to consider the points that impact stability.

When building a driveway retaining wall in Pittsburgh it is important to remember that it supports soil higher than the adjacent grade and it must resist lateral pressures caused by the soil as well as hydrostatic pressures that produce horizontal forces.

In review, the forces affecting stability are:

  • Vertical or downward forces, which are the weight of the wall structure and the soil over the footer
  • Horizontal, side forces, which are the weight of the soil plus water pressure that over time will push out the wall or make it slide forward
  • Horizontal soil forces above the angle of repose of the soil at the top of the wall
  • Surcharged forces, which are forces caused by the soil which is sloped upward behind the wall face and the load that is supported on top of the soil
    • Nominally the design for residential wall is a minimum of 250 PCF

When in doubt check with Wichman Landscape Construction and they can help you and advise on further design considerations.

Photos of Our Various Completed Driveway Retaining Wall Projects

Recommended material manufacturers that supply wall system product into the Pittsburgh region:


– Visit our retaining wall technical specifications page to learn and understand the basics of hardscape wall construction.

Mr. Wichman was very professional and knowledgeable. He replaced our back patio with a beautiful flagstone finish. The old patio was removed and excavated. New base of stone chips tamped down. Mr. Wichman was open to discussion as work was being completed to accommodate alterations in original plans. Work was completed in a very timely manner. The laborers were polite and hard working. They cleaned up very nicely after the project was completed. Thank you for your service manners, for your suggestions and one on one phone conversations.

Kathy B.

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