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How to Build a Wood Retaining Wall

Abhijit Naik Sep 24, 2018
If you happen to reside in a region prone to landslides, then building a wood retaining wall is by far the most convenient and inexpensive way of saving your property.
A retaining wall is a structure built to prevent the down slope advance of earth mass by resisting the lateral pressure. This structure holds back earth mass, typically materials like soil and rock, most often in an area susceptible to landslide.
The lateral pressure on this structure is the least at the top of the wall and most at the bottom, and therefore, the structure has to be designed to suit the same. If this factor is not taken into consideration, the pressure can even destruct the wall.

Why a Wood Retaining Wall?

Although the choices are vast, wood is considered the best option owing to the fact that it is easily available and affordable. Wooden retaining walls are as useful as their concrete counterparts. Bigger the wall, secure is the place. Wood also adds some grace to the landscape and thus, doubles up as a beautification tool.
A small retaining wall―most often for your garden―is easy to build and can be constructed over a weekend, but if the down slope is steep and the earth mass is huge, then you need to build a big retaining wall.

Planning and Material Required

The foremost requirement of any successful activity is a proper plan. When building a retaining wall with wood, you need to determine the size and height of the wall, which, in turn, will depend on the amount of earth mass to be harnessed and the degree of the slope. 
If there is a lot of earth mass and the degree of the slope high, then the retaining structure will have to be strong enough to hold it back.
Once you have the appropriate plan in your mind, you can start with the construction of your timber retaining wall. You will need to purchase support beams, treated timber, and hardware material, such as nails, hammer, etc.
The size of the support beams required to build the wall will depend on the height of the wall―taller the wall, larger the support beams required.

DIY Guide to Build a Wood Retaining Wall

Firstly, level the ground wherein you are erecting the retaining wall. Dig the hill back to create some space for you to work. Do preserve the soil which you remove while digging, as you will need it to fill in the gap between the wall and hill once the wall is complete. 
Then dig holes to erect the support beams. The foundation of the wall is the most important attribute, and hence, some things need to be taken into consideration when laying the foundation.
If you want a 6 feet wall, you will need 10-feet long beams, which will have to be planted 4 feet(40% of the beam) deep into the ground. A distance of 2 feet between two beams will be ideal. Prepare a mixture of concrete and gravel, and pour it into the holes after placing the beams in them. This will strengthen the foundation of the retaining wall.
Once all the beams are erected, you can nail the treated wood boards into the beams and complete the structure.
Once the wall is erected, you can fill in the gap between the wall and slope with the soil that you removed while making space for you to work. While doing this, create a layer of gravel between the soil and the wall to facilitate proper draining of water.
As landslides―irrespective of their size―are very destructive, it is important that you build a retaining wall to deal with them. It won't just help you to save your property and lives, but also add to the grace of your landscape.