Retaining Wall on Slope

MarenAL(7)March 22, 2014

I have a pretty steep slope on my front yard. I just pulled out some overgrown lorapetalums from in front of the crepe myrtle tree in the pic. They were ugly as heck, but their root systems were well established and helped with erosion. I think I need to add a retaining wall in addition to new ornamental grass plantings to replace the erosion control and improve the look.

I found this video that, along with several other tutorials online, have helped me feel fairly confident that I can tackle this project.

BUT, all of the videos show walls being built on ground that is not nearly as sloped as mine. The only thing I can find about slopes is "start at the lowest point". Ok, got that. But does anyone have any better or more detailed information? Do I start at the lowest point, dig my footer ditch only at that spot, and then build up until it reaches the level of the next lowest point of the slope where I would then dig that footer layer, and so on?

Anyone done this, or have a video to link that shows it sort of step by step for dummies?

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It's hard to see where and the length/height of the wall you plan from the photo. If it is a 16 inch wall, 15 ft long, you certainly can build a SRW wall.

But looking at the video you linked, I think you are being mislead. A competent contractor has both the skill and equipment to make the more expensive block into nice looking strong wall. Few homeowners have either the skill or equipment needed. At 1:13 in the video there is a list of needed tools. Unless you weigh 350 and look like a NFL lineman, that hand tamper won't get the job done. You need a plate compactor. With the speed of wall completion common to homeowners, count on renting the compactor several times. Additionally, you need the ability to cut the stone and caps to give the wall a finished look. Trying to do it with a 4 inch chisel is a joke. There is a lot of skill in grading to perfection the compacted base for the first course of blocks.

All these SRW blocks are locally made under license. As the molds age the block becomes less uniform. A contractor knows what is an acceptable tolerance. A bad batch gets taken back and sold to a homeowner. By being a repeat customer, a contractor has more leverage for a better price and quality.

The good thing about SRW is that you can keep taking it down and rebuilding it until you get it right (if your back can stand it).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I understand steep slopes! Our front slope is so steep, you can't even see the first floor of our home when driving up the road.

Our home sits higher than the road in front, and much higher than the ravine below. We are the third owner of this property, and have several versions of retaining walls here and there.

Our retaining wall in front, if you call it that, is railroad ties, horizontally stacked about 4 ties high, and held in place by rebar. There are tons of rosemary plants cascading over the retaining wall. Above that are many varieties of roses, salvias, and ground covers, all providing the necessary root systems to keep the ground in place.

I am pretty sure this was a DIY project by a previous owner, but it looks really nice. We get compliments all the time from neighbors. At the top of the retaining wall is a decorative black wrought iron fence that separates the flat part of the front yard from the slope.

Good luck with your project! Drive around your area and see what your neighbors have done.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:54AM
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