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Building a Timber Retaining Wall (page 1 of 2)

A retaining wall made with timber posts can add style and extra seating to your yard .

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Here's What You'll Do:

A timber retaining wall is great for reshaping a sloped yard and lending a real identity and presence to your garden area.

Retaining walls can be constructed with various materials from stone to wood. Pick a building material that will work with the look and feel of your yard.
Some materials can be used to create curves; but a retaining wall made of timber will be straight.

Plan Your Wall

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Start by measuring the area for the exact length of your wall, including all sides if there will be more than one- this will determine the materials needed to complete the project.

Calculate the timber you'll need to buy. For this project, we need twelve 8-foot 6x6s to build a 2-foot tall wall. Pressure-treated lumber, especially made for this type of wall, is readily available in home improvement centers.

Before beginning, have a plan for all the soil you'll be removing. It can be used to construct raised flower beds, to fill in low spots in your yard or to grade around your foundation.

Always consult your local utility company before digging. They will mark the location of any underground services in your project area.

Walls over 4-feet tall may require professional installation.

Excavate the Trench

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Before you can begin digging, add a guide string. This string follows the path you want your wall to follow. Place stakes at either end of the front edge of the wall. Connect the stakes with a string and adjust until it is level (images 1 and 2).

Excavate the bottom of the slope to create a level base for the wall.

Dig a foundation trench for the first row of timbers (image 3). Make the trench about 8 inches deep. The base of the retaining wall should be half the wall's height. So, in our case, 1 foot wide for a 2-foot high wall (image 4).

Tamp to a level base. One of the keys to a successful wall is a leveled foundation. Use a level placed on top of a timber to periodically check your work.

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