Split level home/yard, considering retaining wall and re-grade


Old 05-31-15, 08:34 AM
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: USA
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Split level home/yard, considering retaining wall and re-grade

So my house was built in 1957 and it is a split-level home, the only one like it in the neighborhood and only one of a few in the whole area. The back yard has a long sloping run from the high part of the yard, down the side to the low part. This yard was much more level when I moved in 6 years ago, but Florida rains have washed and washed into this natural slope. This isn't good for my back door and does not make for a comfortable back yard. When I stand and watch it rain I see water just rolling down to the back step. I've already replaced one door due to rot issues on the frame and had some drainage installed to help carry away the water. You can't see it in the picture, but the ground is washing away underneath the slab that the AC unit is sitting on.

What I'd like to do is cut the yard in half with a retaining wall, similar to the picture of my front yard I've included and have two distinct levels. I'd like to re-grade the yard with a tractor or bobcat then put in the wall maybe in an L shape to run it along the fence line in order to control the flow of the water. I could then re-grade the lower part of the yard for a better slope.

I'd also like to put a larger walk out patio at the back door, sloped properly with drains installed. Would also be nice to screen this in or at least put a patio roof on it to help mitigate the volume of water during rain. I'd add gutters draining into buried pipe.

Does anyone have any ideas or pointers? i can run a tractor and my dad is experienced with a bobcat, but we've never built a retaining wall before, but it seems easy enough. I'd pour a footer then build it up 3-4 high and level. I'd probably go with cinder block to save on material cost, as I'm not looking for a decorative option.

I'm just looking for some feedback in general.

Here are a couple of more images to give a better idea of the lot and yard slope.

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Old 05-31-15, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Louisville KY
Posts: 576
You certainly don't have a whole lot of slope so building a retaining wall will not be a major problem at all. The easiest and probably most effective type of retaining wall for you to build would be one using the stack blocks systems like this: Versa-Lok, there are also many other suppliers. They are much more user-friendly for a DIY project than using conventional concrete blocks on top of a footing. They don't require any concrete to be poured, they just set on a gravel base. You can purchase them at most big-box stores or a local building supply company.

You are certainly correct that you need to put some drainage behind the wall while you are doing it to direct the water away. Just do some more research about that subject prior to starting to come back here and he ask again and will provide you some more information.

Last edited by Msradell; 05-31-15 at 11:54 AM.
Old 05-31-15, 11:28 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
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I would use a modular, dry stacked retaining wall block. They are engineered as proper, structural retaining walls so can provide a reliable long term solution if installed properly. The big benefit for a DIYer is that there is to time crunch like when pouring concrete. The project can be done more at your pace. None of it is light weight but when you are done you can have a professional, structural retaining wall.

I most often use Keystone Compac tri-plane which is what I started with 15 years ago but there are now many other manufacturers and styles to choose from. My wife will quickly point out that they are not the prettiest by today's standards for residential use but the big thing is that they are a engineered, structural retaining wall product. Not light little blocks from a home center. If you have access to a tractor or skid steer you are very well on your way to handling a project like this.

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