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sixls

03:55PM | 06/05/01
Member Since: 06/04/01
3 lifetime posts
Bvmisc
We have to build a retaining wall in our backyard. Our home's foundation is exposed and we are losing our backyard. How does concrete measure up to wood in durability, appearance, and cost? Can a do-it-yourselfer handle this project? We live in mid-Michigan.

Jay J

04:31PM | 06/05/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi sixls,

How high and how long is the wall? Personally, I like either wood or Fortress Blocks for retaining walls. I would consider wood for walls under 2' AND if it 'fits in' with the landscaping. Otherwise, I'd go w/the Fortress Blocks. A poured wall is fine but it would look like a foundation wall more than a retaining wall.

The key to no matter how you do it is how you construct the wall. The pad, the back-fill, and possibly tie-ins are important along with proper drainage for long lasting durability. This is why height is important in my question.

If you give more specifics, perhaps I can give more specifics back to you. For now, my best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: What's on the 'front side' of the wall? Your yard? A stream???

sixls

06:39PM | 06/05/01
Member Since: 06/04/01
3 lifetime posts
Jay J....thanks so much for your quick reply. To answer some of your questions:
The wall is partly a divider between our yard and our neighbors. Their yard sits lower than ours. Our yard where this wall will go in, is on a downward slant. However, we want to level our yard off with the help of this retaining wall.(What we are hoping to have by the project's completion, is a two-tiered yard.) That is a concern also. Will we have to put more dirt and sod on the other side of the retaining wall or just the side that the wall will be holding in? The wall will be approximately 30 feet, with it starting out lower, to meet our front yard. My question is this..will we need backfill on both sides of the retaining wall? Are fortress blocks also cement? Is it a job that d.i.y. can do? The wall will start out about two feet high but could go as high as four feet or more. At this point, we are open to any ideas. Money is a definite factor, although we want something that is going to last. The people across the street built a retaining wall out of railroad ties several years back. The wall is holding up well but it doesn't look very professional. So.....fire away with any suggestions.
Thank you,
Sue

Jay J

05:51PM | 06/06/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
HI sixls,

Yes, retaining wall blocks ARE made of concrete. AND, they would be GREAT for your project. And yes, if you're handy and can read Instructions (as you will see), a DIYer can do the job. The key to a block retaining wall is the base, the gravel back-fill, proper drainage, (the 'tie-in' if necessary), and filter/landscape fabric.

Oh, and thanks for the details. In your case, after you read the instructions at Allan Block, you'll know more about your abilities. Don't get TOO hung up in the specs. I believe you'll need to do a tie-in but I'm not sure. (Since you're 4' high at the highest, for some reason, 3'+ requires a tie-in. Just keep your eye open on that.) It will be a lot of work but the HARD part is the prep and the easy part is the block building. If you want, you can kinda talk to an Excavation Pro to see if he can do the digging and then you can fine tune that, and then build the wall. Talk to him about gravel too. You DO want drain pipe and filter/landscape fabric. Again, it's in the instructions. No, you don't need dirt in front of the wall at all. When you look at the pictures in the instructions, you'll see how it's done and probably know why. Since the backside of the wall is 'drainage', the dirt 'hill' WON'T move (or push on the wall) because of the drainage. It's all about Physics.

The block will cost but it's better AND it looks nicer. I'm sure you'll get your $$$ back if you move. And you can save on some labor by doing some of the work yourself. You'll just have to weigh which part of the job you want to do. Hey, if you don't have the $$$ now, start saving and revisit the project later. That's OK - At least you'll get the job done the better way AND you'll have the $$$ to do so.

If you have any more ?'s, e-mail me directly because the Post will get 'buried'. My best to ya and hope this helps.

Jay J -Moderator

PS: Shop around at Home Depot, Lowes, Gravel Yards, Concrete Block Mfgrs., and so on for pricing on the block ...

sixls

07:00PM | 06/06/01
Member Since: 06/04/01
3 lifetime posts
Kudos Jay J. I printed all the info you replied with as well as pictures and directions from Allan Block. I am having difficulty though with the Acrobat Reader thing they said to download. I followed instructions, saved it to a disk,but now I am unable to download their complete instruction manuals.....aarrgghh. You said if I had any questions to email you directly, but when I clicked on your profile, it said no current email address available. If you want to, please email me with your email address. I promise not to be too much of a pest! Btw....after seeing pictures, I know for sure that we will do it right when we can afford it...it looks well worth the effort and cost.

Jay J

04:44PM | 06/07/01
Member Since: 10/26/00
782 lifetime posts
Hi sixls,

I don't know what's up about the e-mail address. I'll talk to 'Management' tomorrow.

No bother about being a pest. Write to moneojay@home.com

Jay J -Moderator

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