How To Build A Retaining Wall For A Sloped Yard

A retaining wall can be an attractive way to tame a sloped yard by allowing you to create usable space and add visual appeal. Although they may appear daunting, retaining walls are designed to be simple enough for homeowners to install themselves, while maintaining a professional look that adds curb appeal. This article will take you through each step of building a classic timber retaining wall or crib wall.

Step 1 – Review Codes And Requirements

Before you start building a retaining wall, it’s important to make sure you are in compliance with local codes and requirements. To build a retaining wall in your yard, most municipalities require that you have a permit from the city or county government. It is also highly recommended that you check with your local utility company before beginning construction on any project involving utilities such as electricity, natural gas and water lines. Additionally, most counties require fire department approval for any wood-framed structures built over 24 inches tall (including fences) within 1 mile of an area considered high risk for wildfires such as brushlands or forested areas.

Step 2 – Prepare The Ground

Once you have the plans and permits in place, it’s time to prepare the ground. It’s important that your yard be prepared before you start building.

  • Remove Debris And Vegetation

It is important that you remove all debris and vegetation from the area where you’ll be constructing your retaining wall. This will ensure that nothing gets in the way of building your retaining wall or can cause damage during construction. If there are any trees or other plants at risk of being damaged during digging, make sure they are moved or protected before beginning this step.

  • Dig Out The Area To Be Filled In

Next, use a shovel or backhoe to dig out an area for fill dirt and other materials needed for construction (if hiring someone else). Make sure that this space is wide enough for whatever type of materials you need to place within it – if unsure about this measurement contact a professional landscaper who can give advice on how much space should be available based on what type of material(s) will used along with size requirements as well as how much room should be left around them so they don’t become damaged while working with them (such as trees being cut down).

Step 3 – Lay Out Footing For Retaining Wall

  • Mark out the wall location.
  • Mark out the wall height.
  • Mark out the top of the wall.
  • Mark out the width of your retaining wall, which should be equal to or slightly wider than your baseboards to ensure a solid connection with them.
  • Measure your length, then mark it out so that it’s even with one side’s edge and about 18 inches away from its end point (the corner). Repeat this measurement for each side of your yard’s slope and mark them accordingly on each end point as well as where they meet in between their corners—this will be where you install vertical posts to hold up any horizontal crossbeams that connect all four sides together at once.

Step 4 – Excavate The Area

  • Excavate the area

The next step is to excavate the area of your yard where you plan to build your retaining wall. If you’re planning a small retaining wall, this will take just a few hours; if you’re planning on building a large one that makes use of a lot of concrete blocks, then this might take days or weeks. It’s best to consult with local contractors and determine how much digging needs to be done. You should also ask them about how much soil they’d recommend removing from around the base of your house—it’s important not only for preventing damage but also for getting good drainage within it as well if necessary (and it often is).

The process for excavating will vary depending on whether or not there are underground utilities like gas lines or water mains in place nearby; you’ll need clearance distances from those utilities so that they don’t get damaged as well when digging occurs near them

Step 5 – Place Gravel Base For Retaining Wall

  • Place the gravel base. The next step is placing a layer of gravel on top of the soil. The depth should be approximately 6 inches deep, which will give you enough material to form a nice wall.
  • Level the gravel base. You’ll want to level out your gravel base so that it is flat and even, which will make it easier to build on top of it later on. If you don’t have any equipment for this (such as a rake), then use hand tools like shovels or pickaxes until all areas are flat and smooth with each other.
  • Check for evenness in thickness between layers and around edges for drainage purposes; if there are any holes or dips in your retaining wall’s foundation, fill them up with more soil until they’re level again.

Step 6 – Install Drain Pipe On The Gravel Base

  • Drain pipe should be installed at the lowest point of the slope.
  • Drain pipe should be installed on a slope.
  • Drain pipe should be installed at a 45 degree angle, with the bottom of drain pipe level with the top of gravel base.

Step 7 – Install Wall Panels In Retaining Wall

Use your level to check the wall panels are straight, level, plumb and square. If you have to make adjustments to the wall panel before installing it into the retaining wall system you must use a hammer drill or a pneumatic chisel to remove some of the concrete from around the screws. Do not use an electric drill as this will cause damage to your screw heads.

Now that you have installed all three panels in place on your retaining wall system let’s take a look at how they fit together:

Step 8 – Place The Next Layer Of Panels For Retaining Wall

To build the next layer of retaining wall, place the panels on top of the first layer. The second row should be placed in the same direction as the first row, and spaced equally apart. It’s important that you don’t go out of your way to make sure that every panel is exact – just use your best judgement when spacing them out.

Step 9 – Fill Behind The Retaining Wall With Dirt

  • Fill the space behind the retaining wall with dirt.
  • Make sure to level out all of your dirt so that it’s not sloped and doesn’t cause a hazard for you or your plants.

Step 10 – Level Dirt Behind Retaining Wall

  • Use your laser level to make sure that the wall is straight and level.
  • Use a shovel to fill in the dirt behind the wall until it reaches a height of 6 inches above ground level. This will provide adequate space for you to plant flowers or grass, but it’s important that you don’t go any higher than this because if you do, it may be difficult for people to walk on your lawn once they’ve been installed.

You can maintain your sloped yard with a retaining wall.

You can maintain your sloped yard with a retaining wall. The following are the most common types of retaining walls:

  • Concrete blocks
  • Bricks
  • Stone (natural or man-made)


With these steps, you can build a retaining wall to control soil erosion on your property. A retaining wall can also enable you to expand the usable space in your yard by adding raised planting beds or level areas for seating and other landscaping improvements.

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