Soil nailing is a construction technique that can be used as a remedial measure to treat unstable natural soil slopes or as a construction technique that allows the safe over-steepening of new or existing soil slopes. The technique involves the insertion of relatively slender reinforcing elements into the slope – often general purpose reinforcing bars (rebar) although proprietary solid or hollow-system bars are also available. Solid bars are usually installed into pre-drilled holes and then grouted into place using a separate grout line, whereas hollow bars may be drilled and grouted simultaneously by the use of a sacrificial drill bit and by pumping grout down the hollow bar as drilling progresses. Kinetic methods of firing relatively short bars into soil slopes have also been developed. Bars installed using drilling techniques are usually fully grouted and installed at a slight downward inclination with bars installed at regularly spaced points across the slope face. A rigid facing (often pneumatically applied concrete, otherwise known as shotcrete) or isolated soil nail head plates may be used at the surface Alternatively a flexible reinforcing mesh may be held against the soil face beneath the head plates. Rabbit proof wire mesh and environmental erosion control fabrics and may be used in conjunction with flexible mesh facing where environmental conditions dictate.
Soil nail components may also be used to stabilize retaining walls or existing fill slopes (embankments and levees); this is normally undertaken as a remedial measure.