6x6 Garden mWalls

CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)July 1, 2012

Hi all!

I posted this in decks & porches, but I guess it's more appropriate here. I look forward to any ideas!

I want to build low, maybe "pony" walls that would demark a courtyard area. All my online searches address retaining walls, but one that don't retain.

What I also can't find online (that makes any sense for me) is directions on how to make the walls not fall over? Rebarr? Do they need foundations poured?

What would you suggest? I'm doing this myself.

[whisper] "Weathered" 6x6x12s on CL for $8.00 each from a major fence company. 12x2x20 deck boards for $NINE DOLLARS!! YEAH!

Thanks for your help,


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If I understand your question, the 6" x 6" is the building material you are using? Then look for directions online about how to build a FENCE. Setting posts well into the ground --usually into concrete-- is what keeps it from falling over. (A masonry wall would be constructed differently. A wall which doesn't retain is called freestanding wall.)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bahia(SF Bay Area)

Yes on needing both poured concrete footings and rebar for a freestanding masonry block wall.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

Fence. Never thought of that.

Yes, it's 6x6s, not masonry.

However, in my noggin, I was already trying to figure out how to space things so I had a supporting vertical periodically along the wall. They're only going to be 3' at the most, and only in some places.

Off to search I will.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 9:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

Well, not a single article I can come up with that discusses walls -- or fences -- of 6x6s.

I guess I'm gonna have to wing it.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 6:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

Well... let's go back a step. Or two. I think I remember you from the woodwork forum? So I understand that you have generally well thought-out reasons why you want to do things a certain way, even if that is different from the norm, and a lot of capacity to make them happen.

I think it might help to know why you want to use 6x6s. Just because they are available cheap? That would work for me too, but I'm guessing you also have some other objective, such as, being able to sit on the wall.

The thing you have to factor in with outdoor construction are things like frost heave and drainage. Even if it is only a wall, if water tends to pool at its base, especially if it then freezes, you may lose structural integrity or accelerate rot. A perpetually wet wall will have a reduced lifespan relative to one that dries out from time to time. The fact that it probably cannot dry between the 6x6s might give me pause in your shoes.

But to do it this way, I think the construction principles would be a bit of a hybrid between fences and walls. You certainly need posts, as for a fence, but given the weight of the material, it should rest on the ground as much as it can - leaving the posts really only of the job of keeping things upright, not supporting the whole weight. Posts can be set directly in dirt, gravel, or concrete, or you can get post holder-spikes at HD that you are supposed to either set in concrete or hammer directly into the ground (call before you dig).

I've linked below to a photo of a retaining wall that could be a fence. Note the flush and sloped post tops, nice touch, and that the posts could go on either side, or alternating. For more images, search for "timber retaining wall", and take what you need from that info.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Could be fence or wall

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

Then there's this style.

Here is a link that might be useful: vertical log retaining wall

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

Hello Karinl! I'll take that as a compliment to my determination. :) Yes, I haunt the woodwork forum!

I am using 6x6s because I am mesmerized by the changes in the colors in the wood. I find myself stopping on the road to look at people's retaining walls. Plus, I've got 'em!

In 2008, I was tired of spoiled, slimy water that would accumulate against the concrete of the front porch. I'd had a garden bed there (6x6 walls) but firemen killed everything and I dug it out. I collected 6x6s from everywhere. EVERYWHERE!. I had no idea and no skills. I couldn't stand the stenchy mess another summer, tho. I laid them down in the mud, thinking it would be temporary. I created a 35' "deck" of 6x6s, which is sadly still there today. I even created steps. Man, I lugged these things from all over town. Ask me how a 5'2" 105 lb (then) woman moves a 16' 6x6 alone.

My point in all that, is that someday I want to build out my porch, which means I will be able to use the 6x6s that aren't laying in mud, too. They're aging beautifully. I also picked up the 30 at Long Fence this week.

You brought up a good point. Despite someone giving me 11 dump trucks of top soil, they lay of the land pours water across the front yard and leaves marks like waves on the beach. Drainage.

I want to create a courtyard effect in front of my house. I have collected pavers (1000s of them) to eventually use. The walls would define different areas. I think I would need to have returns on them, too, for stability in addition to the posts. I like the picture you posted.

I am also now trying to figure out how to elevate them just off the ground enough that I don't create stinky, stenchy cesspools again. Perhaps lifting them a paver height off the ground.

I have to think about this. It'll be a long time coming, but I have to store these babies somewhere. I was going to lay them out and move them around until I'm satisfied. I think I will make the support posts on the inside, which could frame gardens. I have more plants in "temporary" pots than a nursery.

Then save the $$ to get fill dirt and someone to get me started laying pavers!

Anyway, you've got me thinking. I would need some kind of bolts to hook the posts to the horizontals. (I have tons of those) What's to stop me from putting a pencil's width of space between each of the horizontals so they also dry? It would dictate more posts, but I like the look of what you posted.

And yes, maybe to sit on.
Thanks for organizing my thoughts.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The main point about what keeps a fence standing vertical is that approx. 1/3 the length of its posts are embedded in the ground. What happens above ground is much more up to the designer's discretion. If one were building a short palisade style fence, one might be able to get away with somewhat less embedding of each post since each would have its own earthen support.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 3:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did I miss how high this wall will be or how many of your 6 x 6 will be stacked and are we talking about treated wood?

Not wanting to P on your parade Karin but those 'vertical logs' are the facade the structure is behind that,

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 5:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

I am always happy to defer to better information, Ink.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When you didn't reply I went over the thread again and saw that it will be 3' (six high) in places, this is too high for the method I describe but it will work for 2 or 3 high. Place the bottom piece on a 4 inch base of 3/4" gravel and level, drill a 3/4" hole through at 2' intervals making sure the hole is parallel with the side of the 6 x 6's (you might want to do this first to save damaging the drill bit on the gravel). Insert a 2' 6" 3/4" rebar in the hole and drive it through the timber into the ground the sledge hammer will burr the rebar which will hold the timber down. Place the next piece on top and fix at 18" intervals using 9" nails. This will be quite stable and also build strength in back and shoulders. If the stretch of wall has some angles in it rather than being completely straight this will help to stabilize your wall especially the higher bits that will also need additional pinning into the ground for vertical support (as Yard suggests above).

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 8:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

Yes, yardvaark.
I would think that would be the obvious part! LOL
But I didn't know how much to bury. 1/3.

Okey doke.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 9:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
CEFreeman(DC/MD Burbs 7B)

I had this thread sitting on my screen and missed several responses. Sorry!

Inkognito, I'll save this. What you described was kind of what I was seeing in my head, too. The higher portions of these walls will be short, with returns. So I can use the post idea behind the corners.

I'm thinking, with longer runs I could use a combination of posts and rebar. Because the 6x6s are different lengths, that would be a way to make a longer run more secure, without necessarily putting in a post every 6'.

I can't wait for the new ones to be delivered.
As with everything I do, the idea in my head is huge. I'm hoping the reality of the # of 6x6s I (currently) have will reduce this a bit!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 9:54AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
the bane of my existence - what to plant in driveway ribbon???
I live in a historic district... the board has to approve...
Help! My new front yard is UGLY! Any ideas appreciated!
Do I keep the stone flower bed edge? I was told it...
quick screen
I'm zone 7 and the spot is full sun. I had a 12' photinia...
Mary Bright
Front yard design help
Looking to finally put some plants in the front yard....
Matt Johnston
Feedback on my design/plans?
In a previous thread I asked for general suggestions...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™