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Reinforced Earth Works

Providing Environmentally-Friendly Solutions

Environmentally sound, strong and cost-effective, reinforced earth is a fantastic option for all your structural needs.

Whether you’re looking to build a small retaining wall for your garden or require a bridge abutment for a large commercial project, DG Ritchie Joinery is proud to provide a high-quality, comprehensive contracting service.

You can trust us to cover all aspects of design, supply and installation.

What are reinforced earth works?

Reinforced earth is the first material of its kind to use soil as a raw ingredient. Pioneered by Henri Vidal in 1963, he had the idea whilst building a sandcastle on the beach. Frustrated that the structure kept collapsing, he came up with the idea of reinforcing the sand using a supporting material (in this case, pine needles). Vidal found the combination of the two much more effective.

He then applied the same logic to larger structures. Therefore, reinforced earth solutions combine earth with some kind of soil reinforcement material. This can take the form of:

  • Linear reinforcing strips

  • Steel

  • Concrete

  • Wood

  • And many others.

These reinforcements act as an effective strengthening component, allowing the material to withstand a great deal of tension. Where dams or banks are eroding, a reinforced soil retaining structure can help the earth maintain its shape, presenting itself as a cost-effective and simple solution.

Reinforced earth is a highly durable, sustainable and versatile material. We offer this solution for retaining earth walls, arches and small domestic projects, and large-scale infrastructures such as bridges or dams.

Why choose reinforced earth?

Environmentally friendly
Reinforced earth is a low carbon solution, reducing harmful carbon emissions. It uses fewer new materials and therefore creates less waste. The use of soil retaining walls can also save green spaces that would have been lost otherwise.

Strong and resilient
With a high level of resistance to earthquakes, vibrations and static loads, reinforced earth is a powerful and secure material.

Speed of construction
As light and easily transported material, our engineers will get the job done swiftly. Reinforced earth solutions can be erected using minimal construction equipment, therefore less disruption to your life and space.

DG Ritchie Joinery are here to support you from beginning to end

With decades of experience in the building trade, you can trust our team of dedicated professionals to deliver the highest quality results. We use only the best materials, ensuring your project will always be completed to the high standard that has become associated with our name.

Our team are impeccably trained individuals whose skill and professionalism is unrivalled. A mixture of project managers and skilled tradespeople, we see your project through from start to finish, going above and beyond to support you the whole way through.

The additional services we provide include:

  • Detailed and comprehensive technical advice

  • Visits to your site

  • Design assistance, including 3D renderings

  • Ongoing guidance.

Friendly and approachable service

Since we have been established, we have never compromised on our core values. Our passion truly is the people that we work with, are we pride ourselves on the genuine relationships we form with our clients.

We always treat you as an individual, and we aim to meet your specific needs. Every project is different, and we will always endeavour to understand and honour your requirements fully.

Get in touch

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be pleased to help you.

Reinforced Earth Works FAQs

Reinforced earth works is a technique used for constructing earth-retaining structures. This construction technique uses layers of soil and synthetic materials to create structures such as retaining walls, bridge abutments, embankments, and other civil engineering works.

The technique involves placing horizontal layers of soil between layers of geosynthetic reinforcement, such as geotextiles, geogrids, or geocells. These reinforcements help to provide tensile strength to the soil, which allows it to resist lateral pressure and maintain stability. The resulting structure is typically more cost-effective, durable, and environmentally friendly than traditional concrete or masonry structures.

Reinforced earth works are typically constructed in the following manner:

  • Excavation: The construction site is first excavated to the required depth and shape to accommodate the retaining structure.
  • Placement of geosynthetics: A layer of geotextile fabric is placed over the excavated area to prevent soil migration and maintain the integrity of the structure.
  • Backfilling: Backfill material, typically granular soil, is placed in lifts behind the retaining structure and compacted to a specific density. Steel reinforcement elements, such as strips or bars, are then inserted into the backfill material and anchored to the retaining structure.
  • Compaction and testing: The backfill material is compacted to the required density at each lift, and the stability and strength of the structure are tested to ensure they meet the design specifications.
  • Installation of drainage systems: If required, drainage systems will be installed to prevent water buildup and improve the overall stability of the structure.
  • Facing: Finally, a facing material such as concrete or masonry blocks can be installed to provide a finished appearance to the structure.

Yes, reinforced earth works can be used for retaining walls. Reinforced earth works is a technique used for constructing earth-retaining structures, including retaining walls.

In fact, reinforced earth works is a very cost-effective and sustainable method for constructing retaining walls, and it is commonly used in a variety of applications, including highway and railway embankments, bridge abutments, and slope stabilization.

Reinforced earth work construction typically involves using a combination of soil, geosynthetics (such as geotextiles and geogrids), and steel reinforcement elements.

The specific materials used can vary depending on the particular project requirements and site conditions.

Reinforced earth works are often used in civil engineering projects because they are relatively easy to construct and maintain, can be adapted to various site conditions, and can be designed to withstand different types of loads and environmental conditions.

Additionally, the use of local soil materials in the construction of reinforced earth structures can help to reduce the number of imported materials needed, which can reduce costs and minimize the environmental impact of the project, making it a more affordable and eco-friendly construction technique compared to other traditional methods.

A strong and stable foundation is essential for reinforced earth works. The foundation should be able to bear the weight of the reinforced soil and any additional loads, such as water, vehicles, or buildings, that may be placed on it.

Typically, the foundation for reinforced earth works involves excavation to a suitable depth, placement of a compacted layer of granular material such as gravel or crushed rock, and possibly installation of a drainage system to prevent water from accumulating behind the wall.

In the UK, construction permits and approvals are often required for building and civil engineering work done on your property, although not always. This includes reinforced earth works.

The necessary permits required will vary depending on the scope and nature of the work. In general, some permits and approvals that may be required for reinforced earth works construction in the UK include:

  • Planning permission: This is required for most types of construction projects, including reinforced earth works. Planning permission is typically granted by the local planning authority and ensures that the proposed development complies with local and national planning policies.
  • Building Regulations approval: This is a separate approval process that ensures that the building work meets certain safety and environmental standards. Building Regulations approval is usually required for all new construction projects, as well as certain types of alterations or extensions.
  • Environmental permits: Depending on the scale and location of the reinforced earth works, various environmental permits may be required. These may include permits related to pollution control, waste management, and other environmental regulations.

We’re highly experienced in dealing with permits for all types of construction work. If you choose DG Ritchie to carry out reinforced earth works on your property, we will help you navigate the required permits to ensure the project meets all legal specifications.

Reinforced earth works can be a suitable option for a range of properties, but it's important to assess your property's suitability due to the need for solid, flat foundations that is required for reinforced earth works

Some key factors to consider when evaluating whether reinforced earth works are right for your property include:

  • Soil Conditions
  • Slope - steep slopes or irregular terrain may require additional support or more complex engineering.
  • Drainage - Proper drainage is critical for reinforced earth works to function effectively
  • Cost: Reinforced earth works can be cost-effective compared to other retaining wall options, but the overall cost will depend on the specific design and engineering required for your property.
  • Aesthetics: While reinforced earth works can be functional, they may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option for your property. Consider the visual impact of the retaining wall and whether it aligns with your overall landscaping goals.

Reinforced earth works are extremely durable and long-lasting. When properly designed and constructed, reinforced earth structures can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides.

Bare in mind however, the durability of your reinforced earth work project will depend on the materials used, the design and the construction work.

Maintenance is also an important aspect that can help extend the lifeline of your reinforced earth work structure.

Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure the long-term durability of reinforced earth works. This will include regular inspections, repairs, and upgrades to address any issues that may arise over time.

Reinforced earth works tend to be more environmentally friendly compared with other more traditional methods of construction.

However, there are still some environmental concerns to be aware of, these being:

  • Land use changes: Reinforced earth works may require the clearing of vegetation and alteration of the natural landscape. This can lead to habitat loss and fragmentation, which can have negative impacts on local ecosystems and wildlife
  • Soil erosion: Construction activities associated with reinforced earth works may cause soil erosion and sedimentation in nearby water bodies.
  • Use of materials: The production of materials used in reinforced earth works, such as geotextiles and steel bars, may have negative environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions from production and transportation.
  • Disposal of waste: Like all construction processes, waste materials will be generated. These need to be disposed of properly as improper disposal can lead to environmental pollution and harm to animals and humans.

Reinforced earth work construction is generally considered to be a cost-effective solution for retaining walls and other earthwork structures compared to traditional construction methods.

Of course, the final cost of reinforced earth works on your property will vary depending on the size of the project, complexity of the design, materials used and the project's unique specifications.

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What Our Clients Say

Don't normally do reviews like this but I feel I must on this occasion after having several companies in at my elderly mother's house to convert a stair so we could get her a chairlift to assist her with her mobility we were met with comments like "waste of time" and "impossible". We were lucky to have met Dave and his approach and attitude of yep I can make and alter that for you. Thank you will never be enough from me, a great guy and a great job.

Richard, Dundee

Just want to thank Davie for a lovely conversion to our summer house, to allow us to use it for an additional workspace, always dubious about what some contractors say to me in the past, but no worries here whatsoever. Can't thank them enough for this...we have used them after this for other works in our house and will continue to do so.

Lynn, Errol, Perthshire

Big thanks to David for my new bathroom window great to find a joiner that can actually make something from wood to match what we already have in place just a plain wooden window with a small top opening made exact to match the other window good price good service and on time very happy and will use again later this year for our wooden deck.

Pat Pitlochry, Perthshire

A big thanks to David and his son Brian first class service from them both made a great job of fitting a new insulated loft hatch and loft ladder for us to give us additional space in the the house maybe just as small job for them but a massive improvement for us did exactly what the said they would do great job clean and tidy at a very reasonable price.

Maggie, Carnoustie