Excavation for retaining Walls

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Picture of Sam Maerz

Sam Maerz

Owner/Site Foreman

Excavation is the process of digging soil. It can be by hand, or with an excavator. In BC you must call Bc1Call 3 days prior to digging.



Excavation for a small retaining wall 50’ x 4’ will produce a “cut” about 30” wide, and 5’ high. This will be about 30yds or 3 dump trucks that needs to be moved to the road, and then trucked away to a disposal site.

For larger engineered retaining walls, we need to excavate 12” below the surrounding grade, and back at least 60% of the wall height. This means for a 10’ high wall, 6’ behind it has to be excavated, and cut out to make room for the Block, gravel, and geogrid.

On a wall 100’ long, 10’ high this produces about 350 yds3 of soil, or 29 full size dump trucks.

Regardless of how much soil has to be moved on your retaining wall project, its most likely more than your expecting, and definitely more than anyone should attempt with a wheelbarrow.


Damage to lawns / Driveways

 Excavating and moving as much soil to the front yard as we have to requires small heavy construction equipment.

In the large example above, it works about to about 1400 trips across the yard to move the soil and gravel in and out. Add in another few hundred trips for the blocks and cleanup you can easily be around 2000 trips in and out.

No lawn will stand up to 50 trips, let alone 2000.

To avoid damage, we can put down a plywood road to drive on, or repair the lawn afterwards.

On small project using plywood is the obvious choice, while on larger projects repairing afterwards is usually the smart choice. This is especially true if you would like a new lawn afterwards!

Hard surfaces like driveway are limited in use so we don’t cause any damage to them.

We will however need to stage our porta potty, pallets of materials, and the equipment. No matter how much space we have access to we can quickly use it all up.

We avoid putting soil and gravel on driveways whenever possible.

It’s very hard on decorative concrete to scrap the dirt back up when we load dump trucks. This does however cause an issue. It’s not technically legal to stockpile material on city roads, especially overnight. While not ideal it sometimes is the lesser bad choice.

Coning off materials on the road, and doing a good gas-powered broom cleanup every night helps keep the inconvenience in check. So far!


Damage to Plants / Trees

 Plants or trees that are in the excavation zone will usually need to be removed, however if they are important and worth working around, we certainly can.

Running tracked equipment over ground with roots usually doesn’t cause to much damage to trees. It is a possibility though, and something you should be aware of it.