Finishing up the backyard retaining wall

After one week, the backyard retaining wall is done.

2012-09-20 17.09.43

Even as I wrote that just now, I was so dubious that it was actually just one week that I brought up my calendar to doublecheck and make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Yep. I went and got the sledgehammer last Thursday night, came home from work last Friday and started the excavation for the timber retaining wall. Bought the timbers early Saturday morning, dug some more, did all the cutting on Sunday, and staked it down and put it together on Wednesday-Thursday and finished everything else up last night.

Wow. One week. It didn’t come without a price, though. A friend saw a picture on Facebook on said, “how did you do that so fast?”

I answered by joking that my neck and shoulders and arms and hands are all asking me “WHY did you do that so fast?”

After waiting for the underground power line to be marked Wednesday so I could sink the rebar, I disassembled the wall that was just dry-stacked together and started putting the rebar in the ground that night. I ran out of rebar! before I could finish, so I got up early on Thursday to run up to G&H to get a few more pieces. After spiking the 4-foot rebar into the bottom run of the wall Thursday night, I used 10″ timber screws (better than the galvanized spikes I initially bought) to hook the pieces together.

2012-09-20 17.08.17
Leveling out the deadman anchor

In no time, I had the wall fully anchored and put back together.

I put landscaping cloth up against the entire back side of the wooden timbers, almost all the way to the top. That’ll help keep mud or soil from running through the wall, while allowing water to pass through if it needs to during a heavier rain than the drainage pipe can handle. After that I backfilled in a little with soil before installing the drainage system.

I used a 25′ perforated 4″ pipe that comes with a landscaping sock over the entire length to keep soil out while letting water pass through. (You can do the same thing by buying regular perforated pipe and then just laying landscaping fabric over gravel with the pipe buried in that gravel.)

The only difference with this wall to most is that I couldn’t put the drainage all the way down at the bottom of the wall, since it wouldn’t drain into the alley that way. So it’s actually about halfway up the full wall at alley level, and comes out of the hole (at right, below) that I left in the 3rd run from the top. Once I brought the level of the trench up a bit behind the wall, I put in a layer of gravel (and then ran to HD for more at 9 pm), laid in the pipe, sloped it downhill from north to south, and then buried it completely in gravel.

I laid landscaping cloth over the gravel before backfilling with dirt the rest of the way up.

2012-09-20 21.29.52

Once I got the trench filled in, I just did the best I could to take down the pile of dirt I had excavated and fill in the slope and level out the area.

There’s still a lot of grading work to be done to get the slope right from the house back to the fence, but it should be much easier at this point. I’m keeping the plastic down to cut down on the muddy areas sure to arise after rain.

2012-09-20 22.20.20
2012-09-21 08.01.57

The backyard project is well on its way. Next up will be the permeable pavers, and then the fence. After those are in place, I’ll be working on the raised beds. Anyone have any suggestions for temporary ground cover to keep this back 1/3 of the yard from turning into a muddy mess?


And now, the progress in before/after form over the last year or so.

Backyard before fence 7/16/122012-09-21 08.02.16

Before/after from the upstairs windows and/or roof.

Last of hedges and fence2012-09-21 08.03.31

Leave a Reply