Retaining walls are constructed using different materials as explained below:


This wall material is very affordable and ideal for DIY projects. Timber can be bought from lumberyards in the dimensions of 8x8s, 6x8s, and 6x6s, which are held together using spikes, screws or rebar. To anchor them, you only require T-shaped timber deadmen coupled with a first crushed stone footing. The redwood or western red cedar has a lifespan of about 20 years while fir and pressure-treated pine can last up to 40 years.

building a retaining wall with timber


Retaining walls made of brick, stone and concrete blocks are known to be sturdy and long-lasting, which is especially true with sufficient drainage. An expert best install these, and the materials are accessible from stone yards and home centers. Mortared walls are placed on a rebar-reinforced concrete footing that is positioned below the frost line. These require the creation of weep holes for relieving soil pressure. Conversely, motor-free stone walls only need a crushed-stone footing.

Poured Concrete

This is arguably the sturdiest and most durable choice of retaining wall material, which can be stamped, veneered, stained or carved to appear like mortared stone. You may opt to purchase wet concrete and have it delivered by an operator’s truck. Alternatively, you can buy dry cement from the home center in bags. Just like with mortared masonry, these retaining walls are supported using a reinforced concrete footing, and they also require to weep holes. It’s important to note that this is the only type of wall that doesn’t need leaning back against the earth.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks

These present an excellent choice for DIY projects owing to their relatively light weight and flat sides coupled with the fact that they comfortably fit together without requiring mortar. Found at home centers and stone yards, these blocks come with a quarried appearance and in a wide variety of colors ranging from red hues to gray and tan. Concrete blocks also rest on a crushed-stone footing similar to that of dry stacked stone walls.

retaining walls on a slope with timber up close camera shot

Retaining walls can be applied to multiple uses, which include leveling off a steep decline to create a distinct space for game playing or entertaining your guests. You may also use them to carve out a patio by cutting off the slope behind your home and subsequently interlocking it with concrete blocks. Some people utilize retaining walls for transitioning a sidewalk or creating a driveway. For example, you can use block walls to design a buffer between your front door and the street or build a stone and timber wall for supporting the outer lining of your gravel drive.

It’s also possible to green up your retaining wall, for example, you can utilize plants to soften the rugged appearance of masonry. Some of the colorful perennials that can be used for this purpose include the Japanese garden junipers and climbers such as climbing hydrangea, New Dawn climbing rose and Virginia creeper to mention a few. You may also plant drapers to spill over your retaining wall and thus create a dramatic, cascading effect.

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