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The Most Inexpensive Ways to Make Retaining Walls

Your retaining wall project is going to be a big investment. It sure involves a significant amount of money, energy and time. So even before you start, it would be good to learn these facts to make sure you don’t overspend money and also to make sure that your time and energy are maximized.

Things about retaining walls that are a must!

Things about retaining walls that are must!

Source: bobvila


Check the base. Is it solid? Is it flat? Are there pests around?

Solid ground is needed for this project. Make sure you have one.

Space has to be flat so that the retaining walls can stand well especially if you’re building a tall one. This is where you’re going to need the level tool.

Make sure to remove any plants or other organic materials from the area before you begin your work.

Pest removal is needed before you even start building. If you miss this part, a lot of your money will be wasted as pests might shorten the lifespan of your retaining walls especially if you’re using the wood materials.

Wood-eating insects like termites and carpenter ants will ruin both your wall and plans. Again, do not miss out on pest removal, try some DIY methods and if they do not work contact a landscaping company.

Also, do keep in mind that depending on where you live and what exactly you plan to build, you may need to get permission prior to the beginning of your project. It’s better to spend a bit of time on checking if this is the case for you, instead of dealing with fines afterward.

Cheap Retaining Wall Materials

inexpensive retaining wall ideas

When deciding on the kind of retaining walls to build, the price is not the first thing you need to look into. You must first consider your project’s location and determine how wide, long, and spacious it is for such a project. From there you will find out what to buy and how much of every material you need to purchase for your garden shed.

Hardwood is the cheaper alternative. Just take note that it varies in grade; so get the ones that can survive water and dirt for a longer time. Otherwise, there is a risk of mold damage, which is not something you want to happen anytime soon.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, there’s always the option of using treated pines. It is a material that is being used quite often but it won’t last as long as other materials though.

Using wood as the main building material for your retaining wall may not be the best idea if you live in warm, damp areas.

You can also try concrete blocks, the interlocking types. It will require you no mortar at all. These are the friendliest materials if you plan to do it yourself.

Some find concrete block retaining walls boring and unpleasant to the eye but don’t be fooled; there are many ways to achieve a stylish look for your garden or backyard using this simple material. Concrete blocks come in different shapes. There are straight ones, curved ones, mosaic etc.

There are other materials used for building retaining walls, like bricks and natural stone materials but they may be pricey.

Tools Needed for Building a Retaining Wall

For sure you’ve been told already which tools you’ll have to use. Here’s a short list of the essentials: round point shovel, rake, square blade shovel, hammers, level, and tamper among others.

Before you go to the closest hardware or shop, check out Amazon or similar online shops first. They may have discounted items which will allow you to get the item without having to go to the actual shops.

The advantage of doing so is you get to save money from fuel and energy in shopping in the actual store. But, of course, the advantage of going to the hardware yourself is you get to see the actual items. By going to the actual store, you will also have the advantage of talking to the sales agents who will most likely have the knowledge on the tools you need.

A piece of advice for your garden sheds or a similar project. If you have friends or neighbors who may have the more expensive tools you need, consider borrowing rather than buying the item for a one-time project.

You may also want to check if there are any used tools in sale around you. Used doesn’t always mean bad but it always means cheaper. But in case you are planning to buy some used tools, always make sure that they are in a proper state for the job you need to be done, as it will affect the quality of your work. Furthermore, used tools that aren’t in working condition may simply become a safety hazard for you and safety is always a priority.

Footing and Framing, Front and Back

Footing and Framing, Front and Back for Retaining Walls

You may have done the route of checking online for specs of footing and framing. But you can’t solely rely on these resources for this particular project.

Consulting with an engineer or someone who is used to building such will be much wiser than just doing the project totally by yourself. Self-research is quite common these days but for projects like this that require a financial investment, make sure to go beyond just online research.

This is why in this article, our goal is to refer you to a professional you know of rather than giving you specs that are not definite. Every footing and framing spec vary to location and space. There are different considerations like the depth and the width. There needs to be a soil test as well to make sure that the walls will stand on solid ground.

For the front and back, the same case applies. One thing you need to know about it is that the front is where you need more money on. It’s where you can add a design if it’s a flat wall surface. For those using blocks or wood, no need to think about front designs. The materials themselves provide the look and design you need.

The Most Inexpensive Ways to Make Retaining Walls


About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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Leave a Comment:

Ruby Nix says July 29, 2020

I am wondering what type of fencing is used in the rock inside of fence retaining wall ??

    Ann says August 1, 2020

    Thanks for your question!

    Rock and wire box retaining walls, also known as Gabion retaining walls, are made using wire baskets or cages made of industrial-strength, zinc-coated steel wire.

    This is usually slightly flexible as well as very strong and durable, helping to contain the rocks, hold up the structure of the wall, and withstand weather.

    You can learn more about it here:


    The Sumo Team

Julie Dallas says August 11, 2021

Great Post, love the detail. A lot of times people hire companies to do it, but it can be a fun little project that you could save a lot of money on.

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