SPECIFICATION FOR SEGMENTAL RETAINING WALL SYSTEMS
PART 1: GENERAL
A. Work includes furnishing and installing segmental retaining wall (SRW) units to the lines and grades
designated on the project’s final construction drawings or as directed by the Architect/Engineer. Also
included is furnishing and installing appurtenant materials required for construction of the retaining wall
as shown on the construction drawings.
1.02 Reference Standards
A. Segmental Retaining Wall Units
1. ASTM C 1372 - Standard Specification for Segmental Retaining Wall Units
2. ASTM C 140 - Standard Test Methods of Sampling and Testing Concrete Masonry Units
B. Geosynthetic Reinforcement
1. ASTM D 4595 - Tensile Properties of Geotextiles by the Wide-Width Strip Method
2. ASTM D 5262 - Test Method for Evaluating the Unconfined Creep Behavior of
3. GRI:GG1 - Single Rib Geogrid Tensile Strength
4. GRI:GG5 - Geogrid Pullout
1. ASTM D 698 - Moisture Density Relationship for Soils, Standard Method
2. ASTM D 422 - Gradation of Soils
3. ASTM D 424 - Atterberg Limits of Soil
D. Drainage Pipe
1. ASTM D 3034 - Specification for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Plastic Pipe
2. ASTM D 1248 - Specification for Corrugated Plastic Pipe
E. Engineering Design
1. “NCMA Design Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls”, Second Edition
F. Where specifications and reference documents conflict, the Architect/Engineer shall make the final
determination of applicable document.
A. Material Submittals: The Contractor shall submit manufacturers' certifications two weeks prior to start
of work stating that the SRW units and geosynthetic reinforcement meet the requirements of Section 2
of this specification.
B. Design Submittal: The Contractor shall submit two sets of detailed design calculations and final
retaining wall plans for approval at least two weeks prior to the beginning of wall construction. All
calculations and drawings shall be prepared and sealed by a professional Civil Engineer (P.E.) – (Wall
Design Engineer) experienced in SRW design and licensed in the state where the wall is to be built.
1.04 Delivery, Storage and Handling
A. Contractor shall check materials upon delivery to assure that specified type and grade of materials have
been received and proper color and texture of SRW units have been received.
B. Contractor shall prevent excessive mud, wet concrete, epoxies, and like materials that may affix
themselves, from coming in contact with materials.
C. Contractor shall store and handle materials in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.
D. Contractor shall protect materials from damage. Damaged materials shall not be incorporated into the
PART 2: MATERIALS
2.01 Segmental Retaining Wall Units
A. SRW units shall be machine formed, Portland Cement concrete blocks specifically designed for
retaining wall applications. SRW units currently approved for this project are:
VERSA-LOK Mosaic Retaining Wall System that includes three unit types: VERSA-LOK Standard
units, VERSA-LOK Cobble units and VERSA-LOK Accent units, as manufactured by
B. Color of SRW units shall be _____________.
C. Finish of SRW units shall be split face.
D. SRW unit faces shall be of straight geometry.
E. SRW unit heights shall be both four and six inches.
F. SRW units shall be designed to stack in 10 inch high by 24 inch wide “panels” consisting of the three
SRW unit types that can be stacked in varied patterns to create a random look.
G. SRW units (not including aggregate fill in unit voids) shall provide a minimum weight of 105 psf wall
H. SRW units shall be solid through the full depth of the unit.
I. SRW units shall have a depth (front face to rear) to height ratio of 2:1, minimum.
J. SRW units shall be interlocked with connection pins, which provide ? inch setback from the unit below
(four and six-inch high are stacked alternately, yielding an overall 8.5 degree cant from vertical). K. SRW units shall be capable of being erected with the horizontal gap between adjacent units not
exceeding 1/8 inches.
L. SRW units shall be capable being installed with a continuous, level course at every 10 inches of height
so geosynthetic reinforcement layers can be placed level within the wall face.
M. SRW units shall be capable of providing overlap of units on each successive course of a corner so that
walls meeting at corner are interlocked and continuous. SRW units that require corners to be mitered
shall not be allowed.
N. SRW units shall be sound and free of cracks or other defects that would interfere with the proper
placing of the unit or significantly impair the strength or permanence of the structure. Cracking or
excessive chipping may be grounds for rejection. Units showing cracks longer than 1/2" shall not be
used within the wall. Units showing chips visible at a distance of 30 feet from the wall shall not be used
within the wall.
O. Concrete used to manufacture SRW units shall have a minimum 28 days compressive strength of 3,000
psi and a maximum moisture absorption rate, by weight, of 8% as determined in accordance with
ASTM C140. Compressive strength test specimens shall conform to the saw-cut coupon provisions of
P. SRW units' molded dimensions shall not differ more than + 1/8 inch from that specified, in accordance
with ASTM C1372.
2.02 Segmental Retaining Wall Unit Connection Pins
A. SRW units shall be interlocked with VERSA-Tuff Snap-Off connection pins, 6.8 inches in height, with a
section which can snap-off, yielding a 4.6 inch high pin. The pins shall consist of glass-reinforced nylon
made for the expressed use with the SRW units supplied.
2.03 Geosynthetic Reinforcement
A. Geosynthetic reinforcement shall consist of geogrids or geotextiles manufactured as a soil reinforcement
element. The manufacturers/suppliers of the geosynthetic reinforcement shall have demonstrated
construction of similar size and types of segmental retaining walls on previous projects.
The geosynthetic type must be approved one week prior to bid opening. Geosynthetic types currently
approved for this project are:
B. The type, strength, and placement location of the reinforcing geosynthetic shall be as determined by the
Wall Design Engineer, as shown on the final, P.E. sealed retaining wall plans.
2.04 Leveling Pad
A. Material for leveling pad shall consist of compacted sand, gravel, or combination thereof (USCS soil
types GP,GW, SP, & SW) and shall be a minimum of 6 inches in depth. Lean concrete with a strength
of 200-300 psi and three inches thick maximum may also be used as a leveling pad material. The
leveling pad should extend laterally at least a distance of 6 inches from the toe and heel of the
lowermost SRW unit.
2.05 Drainage Aggregate
A. Drainage aggregate shall be angular, clean stone or granular fill meeting the following gradation as
determined in accordance with ASTM D422
Sieve Size Percent Passing
1 inch 100
3/4 inch 75-100
No. 4 0-60
No. 40 0-50
No. 200 0-5
2.06 Drainage Pipe
A. The drainage collection pipe shall be a perforated or slotted PVC, or corrugated HDPE pipe. The
drainage pipe may be wrapped with a geotextile to function as a filter.
B. Drainage pipe shall be manufactured in accordance with ASTM D 3034 and/or ASTM D 1248
2.07 Reinforced (Infill) Soil
A. The reinforced soil material shall be free of debris. Unless otherwise noted on the final, P.E. sealed,
retaining wall plans prepared by the Wall Design Engineer, the reinforced material shall consist of the
inorganic USCS soil types GP, GW, SW, SP, SM, meeting the following gradation, as determined in
accordance with ASTM D422:
Sieve Size Percent Passing
4 inch 100
No. 4 20-100
No. 40 0-60
No. 200 0-35
B. The maximum particle size of poorly-graded gravels (GP) (no fines) should not exceed 3/4 inch unless
expressly approved by the Wall Design Engineer and the long-term design strength (LTDS) of the
geosynthetic is reduced to account for additional installation damage from particles larger than this
C. The plasticity of the fine fraction shall be less than 20.
PART 3: DESIGN PARAMETERS
A. The following soil parameters, as determined by the Owner's Geotechnical Engineer shall be used for
the preparation of the final design:
Unit Weight Internal Friction Cohesion (c)
(；) (pcf) Angle (;) (degrees)
Reinforced Fill ________ ____________ 0
Retained Soil ________ ____________ 0
Foundation Soil ________ ____________ __________
(If internal friction angles are not available for the above section, the
specifier can provide the USCS soil type classification for the reinforced,
retained, and foundation soils and/or attach the geotechnical investigation
report for this project.)
B. Should the actual soil conditions observed during construction differ from those assumed for the design,
design shall be reviewed by the Wall Design Engineer at the Owner's Geotechnical Engineer's direction.
A. The design analysis for the final, P.E. sealed retaining wall plans prepared by the Wall Design Engineer
shall consider the external stability against sliding and overturning, internal stability, and facial stability
of the reinforced soil mass and shall be in accordance with acceptable engineering practice and these
specifications. The internal and external stability analysis shall be performed in accordance with the
“NCMA Design Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls”, using the recommended minimum factors of
safety in this manual.
B. External stability analysis for bearing capacity, global stability, and total and differential settlement
shall be the responsibility of the Owner and the Owner's Geotechnical Engineer. Geotechnical Engineer
shall perform bearing capacity, settlement estimates, and global stability analysis based on the final wall
design provided by the Wall Design Engineer and coordinate any required changes with Wall Design
C. While vertical spacing between geogrid layers may vary, it shall not exceed 20 inches maximum in the
D. The geosynthetic placement in the wall design shall have 100 percent continuous coverage parallel to
the wall face. Gapping between horizontally adjacent layers of geosynthetic (partial coverage) will not
A. The Owner or Owner's Representative is responsible for verifying that the contractor meets all the
requirements of the specification. This includes all submittals for materials and design, qualifications,
and proper installation of wall system.
B. Contractor's field construction supervisor shall have demonstrated experience and be qualified to direct
all work at the site.
A. Contractor shall excavate to the lines and grades shown on the project grading plans. Contractor shall
take precautions to minimize over-excavation. Over-excavation shall be filled with compacted infill
material, or as directed by the Engineer/Architect, at the Contractor's expense.
B. Contractor shall verify location of existing structures and utilities prior to excavation. Contractor shall
ensure all surrounding structures are protected from the effects of wall excavation. Excavation support,
if required, is the responsibility of the Contractor.
4.03 Foundation Preparation
A. Following the excavation, the foundation soil shall be examined by the Owner's Engineer to assure
actual foundation soil strength meets or exceeds the assumed design bearing strength. Soils not meeting
the required strength shall be removed and replaced with infill soils, as directed by the Owner's
B. Foundation soil shall be proofrolled and compacted to 95% standard Proctor density and inspected by
the Owner's Engineer prior to placement of leveling pad materials.
4.04 Leveling Pad Construction
A. Leveling pad shall be placed as shown on the final, P.E. sealed retaining wall plans with a minimum
thickness of 6 inches. The leveling pad should extend laterally at least a distance of 6 inches from the
toe and heel of the lower most SRW unit.
B. Granular leveling pad material shall be compacted to provide a firm, level bearing surface on which to
place the first course of units. Well-graded sand can be used to smooth the top 1/2 to 1/4 inch of the
leveling pad. Compaction will be with mechanical plate compactors to achieve 95% of maximum
standard Proctor density (ASTM D 698).
4.05 SRW Unit Installation
A. All SRW units shall be installed at the proper elevation and orientation as shown on the final, P.E.
sealed wall plans and details on the construction plans or as directed by the Wall Design Engineer. The
SRW units shall be installed in general accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. The
specifications and drawings shall govern in any conflict between the two requirements.
B. For ease of installation, generally the base course of SRW units shall be all six-inch-high Standard units
placed on the leveling pad. The units shall be leveled side-to-side, front-to-rear and with adjacent units,
and aligned to ensure intimate contact with the leveling pad. The base course is the most important to
ensure accurate and acceptable results. No gaps shall be left between the front of adjacent units.
Alignment may be done by means of a string line or offset from base line to the back of the units.
Placing panels of Mosaic directly on the leveling pad is also acceptable. In this case, the entire 10-inch-
high course of panels must be installed before the level and alignment can be checked.
C. All excess debris shall be cleaned from top of units.
D. Mosaic panels shall be placed on the units below. Each panel shall be installed completely prior to
installing horizontally adjacent panels. Each Mosaic panel shall be 10 inches high by 24 inches wide,
consisting of one Standard unit, one Cobble unit, and two Accent units. With each adjacent panel, the
units at the bottom of the panels should be alternated from four-inch-high units to six-inch-high units.
As an example, one panel shall have Accent units at the base of the panel with Standard and Cobble
units on top. The next adjacent panel shall have the Standard and Cobble units at the bottom and
Accent units on top. The order of the Cobble and Standard units shall be randomly mixed within the
panels to avoid a repetitive pattern. The entire length of each 10-inch-high course of panels shall be
installed before starting the next course of panels.
E. Each unit in a Mosaic panel shall be pinned to the units below in the following manner: Two VERSA-
Tuff connection pins shall be inserted through the pin holes of each unit into receiving slots in units
below, creating an approximate ? inch setback from the unit below. Pins shall be fully seated in the pin
slot below. When pinning four-inch-high Accent units, the top 2 inches of the 6.8 inch high pin will
initially extend above the Accent unit. The top of the pin shall be snapped-off by hitting the top of the
pin from the side. Once pinned, the units shall be pushed forward to remove any looseness in the unit-
F. Prior to placement of next course of panels, the level and alignment of the units shall be checked and
corrected, where needed.
G. The next course of panels shall be placed so that it is staggered at least four inches from the vertical
joints between the panels below. The patterns in the Mosaic panels generally shall not line up with the
course below. The bond of the panels shall be varied on subsequent courses to create a random look.
H. Layout of curves and corners shall be installed in accordance with the wall plan details or in general
accordance with SRW manufacturer's installation guidelines. Walls meeting at corners shall be
interlocked by overlapping successive courses of panels. Special corner panels shall be installed such
that both sides of the corner panels vertically align the upper and lower units to create 10-inch-high
joints to butt against adjacent regular Mosaic panels. For each course of panels, the corner panels shall
be installed first, then regular panels installed out from the corners.
I. Procedures C. through G. shall be repeated until reaching top of wall units, just below the height of the
cap units. Geosynthetic reinforcement, drainage materials, and reinforced backfill shall be placed in
sequence with unit installation as described in Section 4.06, 4.07, and 4.08.
4.06 Geosynthetic Reinforcement Placement
A. All geosynthetic reinforcement shall be installed at the proper elevation and orientation as shown on the
final, P.E. sealed retaining wall plan profiles and details or as directed by the Wall Design Engineer.
B. At the elevations shown on the final plans, (after the units, drainage material, and backfill have been
placed to this elevation) the geosynthetic reinforcement shall be laid horizontally on compacted infill
and on top of the concrete SRW units, to within one inch of the front face of the unit below.
Embedment of the geosynthetic in the SRW units shall be consistent with SRW manufacturer's
recommendations. Correct orientation of the geosynthetic reinforcement shall be verified by the
Contractor to be in accordance with the geosynthetic manufacturer's recommendations. The highest
strength direction of the geosynthetic must be perpendicular to the wall face.
C. Geosynthetic reinforcement layers shall be one continuous piece for their entire embedment length.
Splicing of the geosynthetic in the design strength direction (perpendicular to the wall face) shall not be
permitted. Along the length of the wall, horizontally adjacent sections of geosynthetic reinforcement
shall be butted in a manner to assure 100 percent coverage parallel to the wall face.
D. Tracked construction equipment shall not be operated directly on the geosynthetic reinforcement. A
minimum of 6 inches of backfill is required prior to operation of tracked vehicles over the geosynthetic.
Turning should be kept to a minimum. Rubber-tired equipment may pass over the geosynthetic
reinforcement at slow speeds (less than 5 mph).
E. The geosynthetic reinforcement shall be free of wrinkles prior to placement of soil fill. The nominal
tension shall be applied to the reinforcement and secured in place with staples, stakes, or by hand
tensioning until reinforcement is covered by six inches of fill.
4.07 Drainage Materials
A. Drainage aggregate shall be installed to the line, grades, and sections shown on the final P.E. sealed
retaining wall plans. Drainage aggregate shall be placed to the minimum thickness shown on the
construction plans between and behind units (a minimum of one cubic foot for each exposed square foot
of wall face unless otherwise noted on the final wall plans).
B. Drainage collection pipes shall be installed to maintain gravity flow of water outside the reinforced soil
zone. The drainage collection pipe shall daylight into a storm sewer or along a slope, at an elevation
lower than the lowest point of the pipe within the aggregate drain.
4.08 Backfill Placement
A. The reinforced backfill shall be placed as shown in the final wall plans in the maximum compacted lift
thickness of 10 inches and shall be compacted to a minimum of 95% of standard Proctor density
(ASTM D 698) at a moisture content within 2% of optimum. The backfill shall be placed and spread in
such a manner as to eliminate wrinkles or movement of the geosynthetic reinforcement and the SRW
B. Only hand-operated compaction equipment shall be allowed within 3 feet of the back of the wall units.
Compaction within the 3 feet behind the wall units shall be achieved by at least three (3) passes of a
lightweight mechanical tamper, plate, or roller.
C. At the end of each day's operation, the Contractor shall slope the last level of backfill away from the
wall facing and reinforced backfill to direct water runoff away from the wall face.
D. At completion of wall construction, backfill shall be placed level with final top of wall elevation. If final
grading, paving, landscaping, and/or storm drainage installation adjacent to the wall is not placed
immediately after wall completion, temporary grading and drainage shall be provided to ensure water
runoff is not directed at the wall nor allowed to collect or pond behind the wall until final construction
adjacent to the wall is completed.
4.09 SRW Caps
A. SRW caps shall be properly aligned and glued to underlying units with VERSA-LOK adhesive, a
flexible, high-strength concrete adhesive. Rigid adhesive or mortar are not acceptable.
B. Caps shall overhang the top course of units by 3/4 to 1 inch. Slight variation in overhang is allowed to
correct alignment at the top of the wall.
4.10 Construction Adjacent to Completed Wall
A. The Owner or Owner's Representative is responsible for ensuring that construction by others adjacent to
the wall does not disturb the wall or place temporary construction loads on the wall that exceed design
loads, including loads such as water pressure, temporary grades, or equipment loading. Heavy paving
or grading equipment shall be kept a minimum of three feet behind the back of the wall face.
Equipment with wheel loads in excess of 150 psf live load shall not be operated within 10 feet of the
face of the retaining wall during construction adjacent to the wall. Care should be taken by the General
Contractor to ensure water runoff is directed away from the wall structure until final grading and surface
drainage collection systems are completed.
END OF SECTION