DIY Guide – Building A Retaining Wall

DIY (Do It Yourself) Guide – Building A Retaining Wall

How to Build a Retaining Wall

Firstly, this guide is for smaller retaining walls that can be attempted by do it your gardeners. Any larger walls should be constructed by professionals. Also check with your local council prior to build any retaining walls to ensure that you can in fact build a wall to a certain height without approval.

Retaining walls are generally built for just that, retaining. They can be built from a wide range of materials including bricks, timber, blocks, stone and besser blocks.

Preparation for your retaining wall

excavation footingStart by marking out where your wall will be installed. Excavated the marked out area to build your footing for the wall. Generally your excavation should be about 250mm below the ground level. If your wall is over 600mm high it is recommended to build a concrete footing. If your wall is below 600mm than a compacted substrate will be sufficient. Road base with some cement mixed through it at the rate of 3 large shovels to a wheelbarrow of road base will form a solid compacted service to build your wall from. Ensure that your footing is level and steps up as needed depending on the natural ground contours.

Set sting lines to outline your edge and also your finished height. This string lines act as your guide throughout the building process.


Building your retaining wall

retaining wallIf you are building with masonry then prepare a cement mix of 3 to 1 brick laying sand to cement. The bottom lay of your retaining wall is the key to a well built wall, ensure that this course is level, plumb and straight. This sets the foundations for the rest of the wall.

Continue to build up your levels until your reach the desired height.

timber retaining wallIf building a timber retaining wall, the same principles apply, ensure your base layer is level and straight and the rest of the construction should be relatively easy.


Back filling behind your retaining wall

Consider drainage when you are back filling your retaining wall. For longevity of the wall and ideal drainage consider using a drainage cell product directly behind the wall, wrap this drainage cell in geomesh to keep the cell clear of soil. Drainage cell keeps an air gap behind the wall reducing moisture retention in the wall.

If you do not want to go to the extra expense of drainage cell, use free draining rubble or gravel against your wall before back filling with soil.

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