How To Build A Retaining Wall
Posted by Landscaping Ideas on 17th January 2012
Retaining walls are a common need. Many properties have sloping or uneven yards. Those frequent issues can create a practical need for retaining wall construction. They also provide opportunities to use retaining walls as an aesthetic landscaping effort.
There are many types of retaining walls. Every situation is different, and the unique contours of the property in question and one’s personal needs will dictate the best possible style and construction in each case.
One popular retaining wall plan is wood-based and can be a perfect choice for smaller needs. A wooden retaining wall may not be suited if one needs a particularly tall wall, the method we’ll discuss is best suited for walls less than three feet in height. Additionally, it may not be a preferred solution for those who want to “do it and forget it” indefinitely because even treated lumber has functional lifespan far shorter than stone or concrete alternatives. In many situations, however, this wooden system will meet one’s needs splendidly.
The first step in building a retaining wall involves creating the “cut.” This refers to the ditch-like outline that will serve as a roadmap for building the wall itself. One can use a shovel to create the cut.
After determining the desired height for the wall, one should cut 4” x 4” posts to the desired length. When cutting the posts, it is important to remember to consider the depth at which they will be planted into the ground. Sufficient depth is necessary to provide stability for the wall. Optimal depths will vary based upon the height of the retaining wall and the nature of the property. Often, building codes will dictate the necessary planting depth.
Following the cut, one then digs the holes for the posts for the wall. Support posts will be placed along the cut in 4’ intervals. After the holes are ready, the posts are placed within them and concrete is poured around them until the area is filled to the surface level. It is important to make sure the posts are “true” and that they run straight. Crooked posts can affect both the appearance and durability of the retaining wall.
After the concrete is poured and leveled, one should allow it to sit, undisturbed, for several days. This allows the concrete to “cure” and produces a durable, rigid framework for the retaining wall.
Once the concrete is cured, one fastens boards to the outside of the post frame. Often, retaining wall builders rely upon 2” x 6” or 2” x 12” boards for this purpose. It is important to make sure the boards are cut in lengths that correspond to the framework formed by the 4” x 4” posts. The boards should be bolted to the posts using large carriage bolts small bolts or nails are inadequate for the job.
At this point, the wall itself is built. However, there is more work to do. One should dig out a series of small tunnels under the wall. These will serve as drainage ports and should be filled with small rocks or gravel. The area behind the wall should then be filled. One should begin by filling the cut with at least 6” of small rocks or gravel before adding fill dirt and soil to level off the construction.
This simple retaining wall plan will work wonderfully for smaller jobs. If you need a larger retaining wall, however, you may want to consider stone or concrete alternatives. The earth behind a retaining wall does exert a great deal of pressure, and larger walls necessitate the sturdiest possible construction.
There are many reasons to consider building a retaining wall. It may be a matter of necessity, or it could be an attractive means of implementing a planting or landscaping plan. In any case, the process doesn’t need to be difficult. Building a wooden retaining wall will require some effort, but the process is not complicated and shouldn’t be overwhelming to most property owners.