timber retaining wall

Preferred in equal parts for its practicality and unique aesthetic qualities, timber retaining walls are the perfect way to go if you want a garden, house, or landscape project fence that makes the most use of its base materials. The structure's simplicity is what gives it an edge, and when surrounded by a woodland it serves as a poignant tribute to the materials that create it.

With the materials readily available and the process easy to explain, we are sure that  with a combination of the easy how-to steps below and our own range of planed all round timber, you'll be able to create your first wooden retaining wall using just everyday tools and a basic knowledge on the subject.

Starting Off: Primary Uses of Timber Retaining Walls

Raised Flower Beds: Without the need for a foundation or permanency, a timber retaining wall is well suited for flower beds vying for a rustic and classic appearance.

Fences: Timber retaining walls are specifically designed to resist the sidewards pressure of soil, and to change ground elevation. This is ideal in fence use, as it delivers adequate subsoil drainage for the whole garden, whilst being more attractive than concrete.

Slopes: Aside from their pleasing apperance, wooden retaining walls can stop an existing garden hill from sliding, and likewise provides exceptional support for any new piece of landscaping.

Preparation: The Ideal Tools and Conditions


As with most construction jobs, starting your timber retaining wall without the ideal set of tools will lead to a less than ideal final product. In this particular project, the presence of water plays a big part, as areas where water likes to stand or swell can rot your wall remarkable quickly. To avoid this, you need an area of firm gravel, stiff clay and sand or rocky soil, or you'll need to work in some drainage gravel or pipes to stop your wall buckling over.

As an overall guide to your first timber retaining wall, we recommend retaining the size to 4ft. Most walls rely on the following material set:

  • Planed all round timber of a type and size made to your preference
  • Perforated Plastic Drainpipe
  • Carriage Bolts, or possibly Galvanized Nails
  • Drainage Gravel
  • Cement

There's no one set of ideal tools for the job, but in most cases the following are considered universally essential:
  • 3lb Hammer, or Mattock
  • Tape Measure
  • Circular Saw
  • Spirit Level
  • Drill/Driver
  • Safety Glasses
  • Combination Square
  • Spade
wooden retaining wall

The Steps to Build your Timber Retaining Wall:

1. Once you've chosen your desired area and cleared it of clutter, cut your timber to the length you desire, adding an extra 18". Set aside for now.

2. Mark out the exact lengths you are going to build your wall in (based on the length of your timber), and dig two square postholes around 12ft wide and 2 1/2 ft deep.

3. Fill each hole with about 100mm of drainage gravel, and place a post in each end, filling with concrete up to the ground level. Leave to set.

4. Ensuring the other posts are aligned, place your horizontal timber down, cutting further down to size if need be to keep them in line.

5. Drill an undersized hole where your horizontal post sits behind the vertical posts (so that soil would then sit behind them), and attach the two together with the carriage bolts or galvanized nails.

6. Now use the same process to stack additional timber to reach your desired height. Lay the drainage pipe behind the horizontal layer of timber, and surround with gravel.

Depending on your wall's purpose, you can now add more soil behind the two layers of timber (if building on a slope), or add more walls at right angles till you have a complete square or rectangle (for flower beds).

You can send any future timber-based DIY blog suggestions to the Woodshop Direct Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+!

 


Post By Graham Ashton