Project Planning - Upper and Lower Retaining Wall - Sideyard Backyard Entrance - November 2022

The biggest 'project' item on my 2022 to-do list was to begin the side-yard retaining wall/walkway project in some way.  I called it #3 on the list and said that I should start with the 'upper' wall and planting box.  This was based on a late-March post showing how I could tackle the project by building an upper and lower retaining wall and 'placing' the walkway on 'top and in-between' those two walls. 

When I did my check-in on the list in early September, I was pretty confident that I wasn't going to get to this item.  Today - in mid-November - I now can say:  I didn't get to it. 

As I went into project-planning mode, I went and looked around the Web for ideas.  I also looked at our lived environment for ideas, too.  And, that's where I came across a recently-installed landscape timber retaining wall project a couple of blocks away from our house.  We were out on a walk and saw this fresh, treated lumber wall that looked nicely done:


This wall is pretty low - just a couple of timbers tall - so that's similar to my needs.  It also looks like they anchored it into the berm pretty well with tie-backs.  After seeing this, I went online to try to figure out some building techniques with wood walls.  Why?  Because I was thinking I was going to make it with paver blocks.  But...wood seems viable now?

I initially found this wood retaining wall project from the Family Handyman.  This project did away with heavy timbers and instead relies on sandwiching dimensional lumber together to make piers/posts.  That's interesting from a DIY-perspective.  I found a couple of schematics (below) that outline how these are anchored back to the berm, in an attempt to keep the wall from caving in/bowing out.  Both of these (below) are interesting and could work for both the upper and lower walls. 

I also found this YouTube video that shows another way of tying the wall back to the land with this plate - screenshot below.


Up until this past week, I was pretty sure I was going to build the walls out of timbers and/or lumber.  But, then I saw this TikTok where the builder built a new stoop out of cinder blocks.   That...sure seems like another route, doesn't it? At least for the lower wall where the thickness of the wall isn't material. 

Menards has block for $2 per 16x8x8, so at 24' in length, I need 18 blocks per row, or about 50 blocks total - about $100.  

Block would last longer than timber.  But, timber-built walls would have the ability to 'tie-back' more into the grade.  The other approach is to just bury piers and eliminate the whole idea of walls in totality.  Or, some combo of those - with an upper wall to create a planting box and piers/posts to support a lower walkway/boardwalk

Seems like I need to spend the next few weeks/months coming up with my plan, understanding the sequence of construction and then begin to acquire the material so I can tackle the project in the Spring.

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