Choosing Retaining Wall Material

Modern science and innovative techniques have created many retaining wall materials that are both inexpensive and strong enough for even the most discriminating homeowner. Choose from sturdy time-tested timbers like railroad ties or telephone poles, decorative and colorful concrete block stacking systems or beautiful natural stone.

Before deciding on your materials, carefully measure and approximate the height, width and length of your retaining wall. Get estimates for all products, and compare photographs of what the finished project will look like when made of wood, blocks or natural stone. Most of the products are widely available at lumber yards or landscape supply stores and can be assembled in a weekend or two.

Use Traditional Lumber for a Retaining Wall

Wood timbers will add a rustic, outdoor look to either a terrace, raised bed or retaining wall. Although lumber will be your most inexpensive option, because of its weather treatment to prevent deterioration, installation can be more labor-intensive than other options.

Traditionally, you should use 2x4s, 2x6s or 2x8s for smaller projects and larger 4x6s, 6x6s for bigger jobs. Railroad ties and recycled telephone poles are often sold already treated. They come in shades of brown and green. These work well with 4x4 posts and lag bolts that have been treated for corrosion. The common technique for using lumber or timbers is to sink 4x4s into the ground and attach these to your lumber or timber.

Build a Block Retaining Wall

Concrete blocks offer the look of a modern, colorful and elegant system for your retaining wall construction. They are extremely strong and flexible, and they come in a variety of colors and shapes. With careful planning and measuring, they are very easy to assemble.

Stack your blocks and secure them with hardware or interlocking edges. These versatile concrete blocks are perfect for terracing, building raised beds for plants or retaining walls. They come in curved forms for forming curves, stepping stones and many other designs. Weighing approximately 25 pounds, they are relatively easy to handle.

Interlocking Blocks or Natural Stone Retaining Walls

Natural stone retaining walls, although among the most expensive options, will make the most elegant retaining wall. These modern, color accented products come in various styles and will accommodate most tastes. A retaining wall constructed of natural will require more time, effort and expertise, but once built, will last a lifetime and will outshine other structures easily. Anything higher than 3 feet will probably require more skill and expertise than you may have on your own, but you can easily have one built by an expert.

Concrete as Added Strength

Apply concrete as an adjunct to whichever kind of retaining wall you are building to add to the strength and life of your wall. Mix concrete as per package directions and add between cracks of timber, blocks or natural stone, and you will almost double the structure's strength and lifetime.