Cleaning Up Your Own Backyard

2 Tips To Help You Successfully Install A Retaining Wall In Your Yard

by Warren Garcia

Landscaping your outdoor space brings visual appeal and value to your home, while simultaneously making your yard an attractive place to spend time and relax. When you need to landscape a steeply-sloped area of soil, building a retaining wall can help you increase the size of your usable outdoor space. Here are two important parts to installing a retaining wall on your property.

Build a Strong Base

The base of any structure gives stability and strength to it, so it is important to prepare the base of your wall properly before your retaining wall installation. Mark out your wall position on the ground using a can of contractor's spray paint or create a line with flour. The benefit of using flour is if you make any mistakes in your outline, the flour can be easily rinsed away to be redrawn by sprinkling a new line of flour. 

Dig a trench along your retaining wall foundation, using a shovel to make cuts straight down into the ground. You will need to cut the trench the same width as your retaining wall stones or blocks and excavate it deep enough that the bottom row of blocks will sit below ground. This is part of what gives your wall its strength. 

Use a level to make sure the base of the trench is level and use a hand tamp or the end of a wooden four-by-four post to compact the soil. Pour a layer of gravel into the bottom of the trench to give the foundation of your wall more stability. 

Install Drainage

When building a retaining wall to hold back an area of soil, you need to plan for water drainage through the soil behind the wall. Without drainage, water will build up behind the wall and begin to put pressure on the wall, causing it to bend outward and eventually fail. 

After installing the retaining wall and before you back-fill any soil into the void, install a layer of landscaping fabric over the base of the soil behind the wall. Next, pour a layer of gravel a few inches deep along the length of this bottom of the area behind the wall. Set a perforated drain pipe onto the gravel surface. This pipe should span the entire length of the wall to collect any water collecting behind the wall.

Wrap the landscaping fabric over the top of the perforated pipe to keep soil from collecting inside and clogging the pipe. Run an end of the perforated drain pipe to a site outside of the wall, where it can drain the water collected.

Use these two tips to help you install a retaining wall in your yard.