So your yard has a slope to it. So what? Wanna make something of it? Well, you should. In fact, you should take full advantage of your sloping yard-whether gentle or dramatic-by building a retaining wall. Ah, but what kind of building material for this wall that retains?
It depends on your taste, certainly, but the choice of building material also has a lot to do with the actual slope itself. Your choice of retaining wall also depends on what you expect from a wall. What else would you expect from a retaining wall, but to retain water? Well, consider a standard brick retaining wall. If it’s short enough, you can use plant a redwood plank across the top to make a nice little bench. If the brick wall is tall enough, instead of a bench, the top could become a garden planter.
Another way to make a retaining wall that can suit your butt is create a wooden bench in which the backrest leans at an angle away from of the plank that you would use as your bench. A fill made of gravel will be enough to prevent any seepage of dirt through the cracks.
Masonry without mortar or fieldstone makes for a rustic retaining wall that brings to mind old-fashioned construction. The problem with a fieldstone retaining wall is that you can’t have much of a slope. If you have a relatively flattened slope, then bare rocks can work. The largest stones form the base, you’ve got to have some coarse gravel behind it and you should put in a proper drainage system.
A more American and less British style of rustic retaining wall can be accomplished by using railroad ties as a very short wall. You’ll have to dig only a narrow trench for the tie that is then set on its edge. Build a brick mowing strip and drive in treated stakes with nails and you’ve got a retaining wall you can build in less than a day. If you can’t get your hands on railroad ties or you just want to make the work even easier, go with half-logs that you stake in the same manner as you would the railroad ties. Create a soft shoulder of dirt and press the flat side of the half-logs against it.
Stakes make the perfect material for building a retaining wall along a curving slope as long as the grade levels aren’t off by more than a foot apart. Get yourself some three foot posts and drive them into the dirt to create a side-by-side fencing effect that allows you to pretty much contour your retaining wall to any design you desire.