Asked on Mar 05, 2012

I really want to remove part of the retaining wall.

by T D
Thanks to the builder...ok, it's been 26 years but this is just another of MANY construction issues over the years...the construction trash has finally decomposed resulting in a sinkhole, causing damage to the retaining wall as well as to a 3 year old driveway. The wall is hollow concrete block and I suspect no footers. My hope is to remove the lower sections of the wall, slope the ground behind it up to the property line/grade level and add landscaping for erosion control. This section of the driveway will need repair as well. I thought that would be a good time to add a curb to control water run off. Also. eliminating this section of the wall will make it easier to back out of the side entry garage. Nope, no one has backed into the wall causing the damage. What do you think?
Ground behing fence at end of driveway slopes down maybe 10 ' to the backyard
  16 answers
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Mar 05, 2012
    If that is your neighbor's yard behind the wall it is going to be tough but doable. If you don't want to replace the wall it is going to be difficult to control the water and erosion resulting in mud on your driveway. Can you post a different angle from the hill side? What is the square footage on the driveway area that needs the repair? If you want an estimate contact me through my home page on Home Talk. There are many ways to go about taking care of it.
  • Southern Trillium LLC Southern Trillium LLC on Mar 05, 2012
    You will want to be sure that the construction pit has finished dropping. The best way to verify it is to have someone with an excavator dig it up and haul off everything that is remaining. It is amazing what you might find in there, and even though it has been 26 years, it may still have stumps or other items that are still there.
  • Make sure you get a survey before you do well spent to know where your lines are. More than likely there were never any footers here...or any drainage for the wall eventually it failed. You might be able to cooperate with your neighbor and terrace the wall so that the lower level clears your car could even add a water feature in the corner of the fence with some nice landscaping....could be a winner!
  • T D T D on Mar 06, 2012
    Four Season...Once the lower/collapsing wall is removed (the upper intact section will remain), I plan on sloping the ground up to the neighbors level. Considering reusing the drain tile that now resides on the back side of the wall. Thinking that installing that below the driveway level and adding a 6" curb to that side of the driveway will control water. Comments?
    comment photo
  • T D T D on Mar 06, 2012
    ANDY...We have had a recent survey done, thanks for mentioning that. Weep holes were in the wall at one time, but the last contractor that refinished the wall covered them. The last bid I had for these repairs included digging up the driveway to empty the pit and fill w/ rip rap but was over budget at this time, so I'm leaning towards the "bandaid" approach. Kinda looking forward to taking my sledge hammer to the wall too!
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Mar 06, 2012
    How much water are you getting on that slope? Is there an entire neighborhood and you are at the end of the slope or is it just one house?
  • T D T D on Mar 06, 2012
    Oh yeah...neighborhood and I'm near the bottom of the hill. There was a problem w/ neighbor water run off until they added train tile to the downspout to empty into the creek behind the property (mostly dry creekbed in summer). As you miught be able to see in photo, I have dug a trench behind wall to channel water down hill.
    comment photo
  • Southern Trillium LLC Southern Trillium LLC on Mar 06, 2012
    Just a note, you would not want to fill the hole with rip rap. The reason is because those are large chunks of rock, and when dumped in will leave air pockets around them. Over time, any surrounding soil will slowly work its way down into those air pockets, leaving you with a new depression or sink hole. You have to fill it with a much smaller gravel so that there are next to no air spaces. The reason you don't use dirt is because you cannot compact it enough as you fill the hole, and over time, the dirt will finish settling and you will still have a minor depression. Gravel can easily be almost entirely compacted at installation, so no settling, and almost no air spaces for surrounding, or the top layer of dirt to wash in and fill the voids.
  • Taking a hammer to it could give you a great workout! What kind of bid did they give you price-wise?
  • T D T D on Mar 06, 2012
    Too much I'm going to start the demo myself. Might just give it an hour right now. I have a place for the dirt/clay close by. I'm heading to the yard!!!
  • Looks like you got some great advice but don't forget to check any covenants and HOA requirements you may have. Its hard to tell from the photos but it appears you are close to the property line. Be sure your neighbor is on board and not claiming later on that you are not creating problems in their yard by removing a support wall.
  • T D T D on Mar 07, 2012
    Thanks Kevin. It's a non-covenant neighborhood...only 26 homes, and neighbor is ok with it.Once the landscaping is in place the slope should be secure. Worse case...add another retaining wall.
  • Not your case, but we see a ton of 20+ year old railroad tie retaining walls that fail. We just had a client who spent almost $60k redoing her retaining walls and driveway. It was a nightmare for her....we just reviewed the bids for her as the scope was too much for HandyANDY to tackle! We can make repairs on them but hers was up to 20' high.
  • One other option to consider is a concrete raising company. Guy McCormick with Slabjack Solutions can raise settled & sinking concrete by pumping a concrete/soil slurry under the driveway & wall and raise them back up to their level position. You can reach Guy @ 404-323-5354 and check out his company & services at
  • T D T D on Mar 12, 2012
    Thanks HPCA. The first bid I received was from a company that did just that. That company said this was a sink hole no doubt from builder trash and raising the setteled concrete was not a good idea w/out removing the trash first as it may deteriorate further.