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Old 01-23-2015, 04:02 PM   #1
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Inexpensive Retaining Wall


Hey All,

We bought a new house in June last year that has a pretty large backyard. In the back I want to build a nice large vegetable garden along the back. This would be 66' wide x approx 15'-20' deep. We have a tall wood fence in the back and the garden going back there is sloped up at a steep angle which is not ideal for a vegetable garden. I can't just cut down that hill or else the fence will not be supported.

My solution for this would be to keep the hill at the height it is in the very back and then have a retaining wall roughly 7'-10' fromt he back fence with a step down for the lower level that will be 8'-10' deep.

How can I cheaply build a retaining wall for this? Stone is way to expensive as are railway ties so I was jsut wondering if any of you had ideas how to do this on the cheap as we have serveral large projects to do next year.

Thanks for all your input!
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Old 01-23-2015, 04:10 PM   #2
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No pictures of the lay of the land, railway ties that are dirt cheap because there already starting to rot, that's why they where removed in the first place.
At least post some pictures.
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Old 01-23-2015, 04:42 PM   #3
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Occasionally you will find stone free for the taking, advertised in a trade paper, Then there is the barter system, trade something for something.

Call the local railroad service foreman, often they will let you haul away their old junk for the giving.

I got 200 feet of used track once just for the haulin.
He said "if you can load it, it's yours. "

They had already cut it into 4, 50 foot pieces, They just had not came around to pick it up, and I was there first.

Also saw someone use old tires for a retaining wall,
Laid out a row of tires, filled them with dirt, laid another row on top of that, offset by half, as you lay brick, filled those, another row, offset, filled, another row, offset, filled, etc,etc,etc. Until it was 10 feet high.

ED
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Old 01-23-2015, 09:59 PM   #4
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Want to add that that tire pile wall is ugly, but solid.

It has been up at least 40 years, and still holding, it is adjacent to a 2 story commercial building here, and is used as a retaining wall holding up a parking lot for the business.

Built on a steep hill, the lower section is a warehouse accessed from the back, and the upper is the store, with the parking lot approximately 40 feet by 18 feet .


ED
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Old 01-24-2015, 05:37 AM   #5
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Cheap and Retaining Wall don't go together very well. Anytime you hold back earth, it requires something engineered to do so, otherwise the movement of that earth eventually pushes the retaining wall causing it to fail. I worked for a concrete company for a while and they shied away from selling any of their products for building retaining walls to anyone wanting to go higher than 3 feet. I would seriously consider having someone with some experise look at this so you don't get in over your head and have future problems.

I can't think of anything cheaper than railroad ties so this may be a project you should hold off on for now.
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Old 01-24-2015, 10:05 AM   #6
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Does the slope lay so it would be possible to terrace it down in 2 or 3 stages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrace_%28agriculture%29

Last edited by SeniorSitizen; 01-24-2015 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 01-24-2015, 12:40 PM   #7
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Agree with GymShu . Earthmovement and gravity are be powerful forces. Failure of a retaining wall that high can be slow or catastrophic. Our area requires permits and engineering plans for anything over 3 feet. An improperly built retaining wall can be a hazard and and in any case may not last long.
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Old 01-24-2015, 10:33 PM   #8
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Re "sloped up at a steep angle which is not ideal for a vegetable garden", that's not that bad IF the back of your yard is the North end.
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Old 01-24-2015, 11:44 PM   #9
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Rule for retaining walls is to build numerous walls not so high. Try to stay around 4' high.

Best cheap material is concrete sidewalk. You should be able to get it delivered free.
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Old 01-26-2015, 07:42 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies everyone Couple things to clear up:

1. I should have elaborated more on the slope of the hill. It is steep at the very back for like 3-4' away from the fence and then smooths out a bit. At the very most it would be a 2' high retaining wall in my approximation.

2. I know a retaining wall should be built the proper way with with stone and in terraced pattern. I worked in landscaping doing high end landscape construction so I am very familiar with doing it the right (and expensive) way haha :P

I would take pictures but up in Canada at this time of year thats pretty useless haha.

Chuck... What does the slope have to do with the facing north? I haven't heard of that before. Could you elaborate for me?
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Old 01-26-2015, 11:49 AM   #11
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Not 'facing North', but if the back of your yard is the North end, then the slope would be facing South, and that's not a bad thing for growing plants. Think of aiming the plot at the sun just as you would a solar panel. Where you are the sun is never directly overhead.

Downside will be erosion, every Spring you would have to move dirt that had washed down back upslope.
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Old 01-26-2015, 01:14 PM   #12
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Ah OK sorry I misunderstood you sorry about that. The slope is actually almost perfectly aligned east west. Slight downside to out backyard is that the plants either get sun all day, or shade all day. Never really any sun/shade split.
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Old 01-29-2015, 12:14 AM   #13
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Unless you can get free material such rocks, wood stone etc., this is about as cheap as it gets.

http://www.familyhandyman.com/landsc...-wall/view-all

http://www.familyhandyman.com/landsc...-wall/view-all




Last edited by ron45; 01-29-2015 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 01-30-2015, 01:23 PM   #14
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I'm not sure Id be attempting a 4'+ wall (wood at that) without some experience. I paid under $2 a block for my retaining walls. Not sure you can find something cheaper than railroad ties either. Those are about as cheap it comes. Anything over 3-4' is usually holding back quite a bit and not having the structure of the wall structurally sound is asking for problems and at best a "redo".
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Old 02-08-2015, 10:14 PM   #15
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Wood and the right selection....
Add the directions and.............


Last edited by ron45; 02-08-2015 at 10:17 PM.
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