Select the Most Secure, Convenient Deadbolt Dear James: There have been several break-ins in our neighborhood, so I would like to install a good-quality deadbolt on my front door. Is there much difference in quality, and do you have any installation tips? — Edna H. Dear Edna: Installing …Read more. How to Ceramic Tile a Bathroom Dear James: I want to add new ceramic tile in the bathroom, and I am going to try to do it myself. Please give me some ideas of where to start this job and the basic sequence of steps to accomplish it. — Eileen W. Dear Eileen: With a house …Read more. Install Attic Access Ladder/Stairway Dear James: We have a large dry attic. I want to store my off-season clothes in plastic bags in the attic, but I do not feel safe climbing a stepladder. Can you tell me how to install a folding ladder? — Michelle W. Dear Michelle: Most …Read more. Install New Decorative Interior Doors Dear James: Our house is 35 years old, and I want to spruce it up. All the interior doors are plain flat hollow doors. I want to install some new decorative ones. What are the best, and are they difficult to install? — Cindy K. Dear Cindy: …Read more.more articles
Install a Retaining Wall on Slope to Create Garden
Dear Pat: Part of my backyard slopes, so I want to install a retaining wall to level it for a garden. I have thought about using wood timbers, but blocks might look better. Which method is best? — Tina P.
Dear Tina: Both methods for building a retaining are effective and can be attractive depending on the landscaping appearance you are seeking. Retaining wall blocks create a more formal look, while using railroad ties or landscaping timbers appears more rustic.
It might seem as though stacking up landscaping timbers is the simplest do-it-yourself method to build a retaining wall, but it is the most difficult to do properly. I have seen many timber retaining walls rot away and collapse because they were not installed properly. It is not easy to replace the timbers later without disturbing the garden area.
If you want to build a curved retaining wall, then retaining wall blocks are the best method. Even if you do not need to have the wall curved, a slight curvature can be very attractive. An S-shaped retaining is particularly appealing because it provides a location on the lower level for an ornamental shrub or small tree.
The most difficult part of building a wall with blocks is just carrying them to your backyard. They are heavy but not unmanageable. Even if you use a wheelbarrow to make it easier, there is a lot of lifting. After moving them to the wall location, it would be wise to wait until the following day to start building the wall. It can be pretty hard on one's back.
Make sure you purchase special interlocking retaining wall blocks at your home-center store.
The key to installing a block retaining wall is preparing the ground for the first row. You should dig out a foundation area where the first blocks will rest. It should be about 1 inch deep for each 8 inches of wall height. Dig this area only as wide as the blocks and try not to disturb the nearby soil.
This foundation area should be level, so its depth may vary somewhat depending on the lay of the land. Once you have it dug out and leveled, tamp it down with a 4x4 beam or a hand tamper. It is important to have a solid base so it does not settle.
Once the base row is laid, let it settle for a day or two before completing the wall. When you find some that are not level, remove them and pour a little sand or fine gravel under them to bring them to level. Don't use loose soil you have dug out because it may wash away, and they will be out of level again.
Stack the successive rows of blocks until you have the wall to the desired height. Backfill each completed row with soil. Many block systems have a finishing cap to cover the final block, so this will add a little more overall height to the retaining wall.
Tools and materials required: shovel, spade, level, tamper, sand, gravel, blocks.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about Pat Logan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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