How to Build a Cheap Decorative Retaining Wall Out of Landscaping Timber

Several years ago when a small brick retaining wall in our yard needed replaced, we decided to do it ourselves and save some money. We were planning on selling our home within the next year and this wall was more for decoration than actually retaining any ground. We wanted a wall that would blend into the wooden scenery and knew an inexpensive lumber like landscaping timbers would work well for the area, but how to construct a sturdy attractive structure was another issue.

The area the wall would surround was L-shaped. The front of the wall was 10′ and the side, or bottom part of the L was 3′. We wanted to build the new wall about 2′ high. We thought about how other retaining walls were built and the materials used to make them. Some are made with decorative bricks of various sizes, some with railroad ties, and some are poured concrete. We had seen some made from landscaping timbers, but not on the scale that we wanted to build. After drawing a few sketches, we decided what tools and materials we would need.

Tools we would need: drill and Ã?½” drill bit, saw, sledge hammer, screw driver, marker, and shovel.

Materials we would need: 14 8′ landscaping timbers, 4 6″ L-shaped brackets with wood screws, 4 10″ – Ã?½” round pre-cut rebar, and 20 9″ – Ã?½” round pre-cut rebar.

Doing a little prep work beforehand will help make the job go faster and help prevent possible confusion. Draw your design ahead of time, laying out the timbers the way you will want them on the actual wall (see diagram). Cut two of the timbers in 2′ intervals, creating eight 2′ segments. Cut four of the timbers in 3′ intervals creating eight 3′ segments. Tear out the old wall, if one exists, and clear away all debris.

Drill a Ã?½” hole in each of the bottom row of logs approximately 3″ from the ends. Position the first 8′ timber on ground and lay a 2′ timber at the end of the 8′ timber. Using the sledge hammer, drive the 10″ rebar into the ground through the holes on the far ends of each timber to a depth of 4″. There should be a remaining 3″ of rebar showing. Take the next 8′ timber, drill a hole 3″ from the end and lay it on the opposite end (where the bottom 2′ timber is), and align and slip the rebar through the hole. Drill a hole 3″ from the end of the 2′ timber and lay it at the other end, creating your second row. Mark holes needed according to diagram with marker on underside of timbers, drill holes, and insert 9″ rebar into holes. At this stage there should be 6 9″ rebar showing, 2 with 3″ showing and 4 with 6″ showing. Continue to alter the logs and rebar, marking timbers for drilling holes as needed.

Do the shorter wall the same staggering the rebar (some will be 3″ in from ends, some will be 5″).

After all timbers are in place, position the L-shaped brackets on the inside of the corner of the L and screw in place. Position one on every other timber up to the top and draw timber corner tight. Fill in behind the wall with dirt using shovel, and plant shrubs and flowers as desired.

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