DIY Retaining Wall - Railroad Ties

Montross Made
by Montross Made
2 Materials
4 Hours

Kyle and I have been working on creating a nice outdoor space for our yard. We had a block retaining wall built for the patio we will be installing, but once the builders left, we realized the grade behind the wall was still too steep. We decided instead of having the company come back and extend the wall (which would take a while and be very expensive), we would add in some railroad ties. Our hot tub is going in this corner and will cover most of the wall, so we weren’t too worried about the look of the ties against the block!

Railroad ties are a great options for a retaining wall or landscape bed. They are relatively cheap and DIY friendly.

What we used:

Pressure treated 6x6s

Pressure treated 2x4

8 inch screws

Item 4

Step 1: Dig out area 

First, we dug down where we wanted our railroad ties to be and made sure it was level. We have access to a excavator from Kyle’s job, but you can also rent one if needed. 

Step 2: Gravel 

We put down item 4 and tamped it down, ensuring it was level. This helps with drainage and support.  

Step 3: Add ties

Next it’s time to add the 6x6s. Making sure the first one is level is key, so take your time here. We attached ours together with 8inch screws.

Step 4: Deadmen

Then it was time to add in the dead men. We used 6x6s and a 2x4. These pieces act as an anchor for the wall and will be burried once we backfill. The size of the dead men and how many you’ll need are dependent on the size of your wall, so do some research here!

Step 5: Finish wall

Finally, we added the rest of the 6x6s to finish off the wall.

We still need to add some finishing touches, like drainage and backfill, but the actually wall construction was simple! (I say, even though my husband did all of the work icon )

Suggested materials:
  • 6x6
  • 8in screws
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  2 questions
  • Connie Forsythe Connie Forsythe on Apr 08, 2021

    My son is doing a wall out of blocks, like I see in your pic before the extended wood, it will be about 3 foot high, how do you anchor block so the dirt doesn't push it out?

  • ShelbyHuang ShelbyHuang on Oct 22, 2023

    It's impressive how you and Kyle took matters into your own hands to create a functional outdoor space. And don't worry, the look of the ties against the block won't matter much once that hot tub is in place – it sounds like a perfect relaxation spot!I was just wondering how everything turned out in the end. Any tips or lessons learned from the project that you'd like to share? And if you ever need heavy equipment like the Bobcat T66 for future endeavors, it's worth checking out your options. Keep up the great work on your outdoor oasis.

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