DIY Retaining walls

Many Australian yards are a bit too steep. You may have considered levelling your yard to create a patio or garden or to make it easier to mow the lawn. The question “How do you build a retaining wall?” may be raised. Although constructing a wall is not easy, it can be done if you’re willing to dig and lift heavy objects and love working in your garden.

When undertaking a large project like this, there are many important things to consider. It would be best to consider gravity, water and soil erosion, and other geological forces. A structural engineer should be consulted for walls over 600mm high. You can manage walls lower than 600mm in height with minimal risk.

These are some types of retaining walls to consider for your next project.

Gabion walls

Gabion walls are made from wire mesh. It is woven in the same way as a basket. Once it has been filled with stones, you can shape it into any shape. This structure can be used to create a fence or a wall retaining.

Note – If you use a variety of stone colours and textures, the effect will be very different from if you use the same rock type. Gabion walls and fences can also be used as retaining walls in gardens and pools.

It is easy to maintain a gabion structure. It’s as simple as securing loose areas and filling in the gaps with more rocks. You can also “pour” smaller rocks into the mesh.

It is important to ensure that large walls are structurally sound. If the wall is more than 600mm tall, consult an engineer. If the wall is not secured, it will be very heavy and dangerous.

Dry stone walls

Dry stone walls are often very affordable because they can be made from inexpensive materials like cement and rocks. It is the labour and design that are most expensive. The stone pieces can be glued together in a jigsaw fashion and then fused with masonry. Amateur masons will find building a drystone wall a fun project.

It is best to leave large-scale constructions to professionals. Any DIY dry stone wall construction should be kept to a minimum of 600mm in height. For safety and legal reasons, any large project must be well-engineered. This can be a rewarding DIY project for small, dry stone walls that accent your garden. Your wall might even last longer!

Dry stone walls are durable and require very little maintenance if they are well built. You can do small patch-ups with the same materials used in the original wall. It is recommended to have a small stash of stones or rocks that you don’t have readily available.

Keep in mind that stones must be securely bonded together with cement. This can be hidden or exposed. A structure must be built behind dry stone walls that exceed 600m high.

Crib walls

Interlocking blocks of concrete or timber are used to construct crib walls. These blocks are then filled with soil or stone using either mortar or stones. Prefab models can also be made. However, custom-cast concrete blocks are more expensive. Pre-made crib walls can be purchased. They need to be installed in the right place. After the structure is installed, the blocks’ gaps can be filled. For safety reasons, large crib walls (i.e. anything that exceeds 600mm vertically) should be designed by an engineer. However, smaller retaining crib walls can be done as a DIY project.

If water erosion is an issue, this is a great option. For maintenance, crib walls can easily be disassembled and reinforced with rocks placed in empty spaces.

Concrete block walls

Concrete blocks are affordable, easily available, and very durable. Concrete blocks are hard work, but you will reap the rewards. Although concrete blocks can look unattractive initially, they can be very clean and neat when done correctly. Pre-fabricated blocks are stacked in a row with soil between them. This is because a retaining wall must have drainage. You will find many stone-like blocks available on the market, so take a look at them all before choosing your block.

Timber sleeper walls

Timber sleepers make beautiful walls. You can stain and paint the wood to match your garden. It can also be easily disassembled and modified if you change gardening needs. While you can use simple boards, thicker blocks from exotic woods look more modern and elegant than those made with regular boards. Concrete posts are used to secure the structure. The posts should not be more than 1/2 inch below the ground than the wall, but this can vary depending on the material and the ground material.

A timber sleeper is made from timber and will last for a while. Wood can be preserved beautifully by proper maintenance (staining and waxing, weather protection, etc.)

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