Is your backyard sloping and hard to walk on, much less set up some cozy chairs for a barbecue session? Do you want to have more level areas to finally be able to plant that flower garden you have always dreamed of? A retaining wall might be the answer.
Retaining walls are permanent fixtures designed to hold back the soil and create level areas of land above and below the retaining wall. It serves many different purposes, both in function and appeal, from preventing erosion, to redesigning the surrounding landscape, and more.
These can be made in a variety of ways, such as gravity type and pillar type walls being the most common, with more complex designs being cantilevered and anchored type walls, which are more often used on large scale construction and landscaping such as roadways.
Deciding on the type of on the layout of the property and other factors concerning the land, such as:
A retaining wall can also be made with many different materials. Choosing the right one means taking into account not just your personal taste and preference, but also the layout and properties of your land. Here are the most commonly used building materials for retaining walls:
Wood and stone are the most affordable building materials for retaining walls, and are both easy to use when doing the project yourself. These give off a natural look that blends well with most surroundings.
If you are aiming for a natural but structured look, or wanting to build a wall that doubles as a fence, then wood is the best option for you.
If you want to find out how to build a wood retaining wall, here's how:
Step 1: Research
Before doing any construction project, whether you hire a professional contractor or go with the do it yourself approach, you must first do a proper research to make sure that your project will be safe and successful.
A wood retaining wall only works if:
Typically, a homeowner is allowed to self-construct a retaining wall within these parameters:
Step 2: Gather materials
Make sure that you have all the materials and equipment you will need before starting on the project. For building a wood retaining wall, here is a list of materials and equipment to prepare:
The amount of wood posts and boards you will need depends on the size of the wall you want to build. For the 4x4 posts, the minimum length should be
Desired height of the wall + 18 inches
While the boards should be 3 feet in length. To calculate how much you need, follow this guide:
Desired wall length ÷ 3 = # of 4x4 posts
(Desired wall height ÷ 6 inches) x # of 4x4 posts = # of 2x6 boards
Make sure to only buy pressure treated lumber that are made especially for retaining walls.
Step 3: Prepare the area
Once you have all the materials ready, you can proceed with preparing the area for the retaining wall.
Step 4: Mark the land
After the land has been prepared, it is now time to mark where you want the wall to be. To do this, start by placing a stake on one end of the wall. Then, measure 3 feet from there and add another stake. Keep doing this until you reach the other end.
Note that if a certain area of the land above the wall is heavier than others, such as if there are plants or a walking path, make the distance between your posts shorter, about 16 to 18 inches, for these areas.
Then, mark the height of the wall by attaching a string on the stakes.
If your posts and boards are not yet cut to size, this is the perfect time to do it.
Step 5: Dig a trench
The next step is to dig a trench, which will serve as the placement for the base of your retaining wall. Take note of these measurements when digging the trench:
Once you have already dug the trench, clear it from debris and kill all roots and weeds. This is the foundation of your retaining wall and therefore has to be clear of anything that might make it weaker.
Then, level the trench using a flat object and a bubble level.
Step 6: Insert the posts
Now it is time to insert the posts. Follow these steps on how to do it properly:
Step 7: Add the boards
The final step is to add the boards so that your retaining wall can come together nicely. Here is how to do it:
You can also paint or stain the wood to match the rest of your house.