Asked on May 03, 2015

I need help either to fix or replace this retaining walls cheaply!!

by Tracey
Hi All ! I have this ugly railroad tie retaining walls which are old and falling down. I need ideas how to fix it or replace it cheaply because I want to have a deck put on the front of my house next year so I don't want to spend too much just to tear it down again. I have no idea how to remove it either, do you have any suggestions? I am afraid if it collapses all the soil behind it will come tumbling down. I really nervous to even touch it. Thanks in advance for your help!!! See the photos below.
This is what it looks like and it's falling apart and going to collapse soon~
  15 answers
  • Tracey Tracey on May 03, 2015
    Here are the pictures I hope you can make out whats wrong
    comment photo
    comment photo
  • KC KC on May 04, 2015
    Hi, I would personally reinforce the border at the very bottom by adding another 1-2 layers of wood or other material of your choice, to catch any dirt or mulch, and go ahead and remove the retaining red wood portions completely. Rake out the soil to form a nice gradual slope. Replant a few inexpensive plants once soil has been added and/or evened out, then add some dark mulch. It will look clean, and maintained without adding additional costs. Removing the leaning, faded wood and adding mulch will be a huge step in the right direction with or without new plants.
  • Mary Ker Mary Ker on May 04, 2015
    This is a klug, but you can use a sledge hammer and hammer in lengths of rebar to keep it from collapsing, then planting in front of it would hide both the rebar and the ties. Painting the ties something fun might also help. If you painted the rebar the same color, no one would ever notice it.
  • Rus1058682 Rus1058682 on May 04, 2015
    I need to know where the deck is going, perhaps a photo from a bit further out would be good. If you are only going to the edge of the concrete, as opposed to all the way across, the "fixes" are different. I like the gradual slope idea, with the exception that I would put down pea gravel over some sort of grass-proofing roll over landscape fiber or plastic that would inhibit grass growth. As I said earlier, it would be helpful to know just where the deck is going..
    • Tracey Tracey on May 04, 2015
      @Ruslzplace I would like the deck to come out to where that first wall is and as high as the top stair is about as high as the second retaining wall in the back
  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on May 04, 2015
    Re-bar would be the cheapest temporary fix. Paint and plant flowers. Problem solved until next year.
  • Louise Littlefield Louise Littlefield on May 04, 2015
    Use some. Blocks cement them in and.stain the color of you brick quick nd simple plant some giant Europe for evergreen and the seasonal
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on May 04, 2015
    I agree with the rebar, but I don't think you even need to paint! Red is a great foil for plant foliage; get yourself some seed including some of those 'trailing basket' plantings to tumble over the steps.
  • Linda Fraser Linda Fraser on May 04, 2015
    I would dig out the old dry dirt. Paint wood a bright white. Then add miracle grow soil and add some wonderful plants. If you don't like alot of gardening then add plants that come back each year. 5 minutes each week or so to pull a weed and that's about it. Plus water ofcourse.
  • 9530106 9530106 on May 04, 2015
    Those appear to landscaping timbers, which could be replaced if needed. I would be a little concerned about keeping soil, etc. away from the bottom edge of your siding, and that the area drains properly. Good luck!
  • Karin P. Litzcke Karin P. Litzcke on May 04, 2015
    The walls are ugly and don't go with the brick that well, but they don't really look like they're coming down. Give them a wiggle first to assess whether they're sturdy. Even if the dirt falls, it won't hurt you; to replace one or both walls you'll have to shovel the dirt out into a wheel barrow or onto a tarp anyway. If you want to keep the walls, you could paint to match the brick better, and if you want to remove them, maybe replace them with a drift of boulders, river rock, or staggered rock walls. It's not looking like a great area for plant growth (dry? shady? scorched?) so maybe more rock, less planting area would be best. Look around at a landscape supply yard in your area to see if you find some materials you like better at a reasonable price. Or, craigslist may offer landscape rocks for free from time to time. If you want plants, assess the conditions you have and ask for suitable plants at a garden centre; carry a picture of the area on both shopping trips to make it easier for staff to give you good suggestions.
  • BS BS on May 04, 2015
    I can't be sure from the pictures, but it looks like dirt is piled up the side of your house. It appears that grade is at the bottom of the brick wall and that the area between your house and whatever the concrete structure is on the left has just been backfilled with dirt. If that is the case, you should be getting that dirt out of there, not trying to figure out how to keep it in place. And as C_Ann_g said, proper drainage is paramount.
  • Jeff C. Keane Jeff C. Keane on May 04, 2015
    I like Ruslzplace's solution with removal of the (not truly railroad ties) "Home center" landscape beams, evenly sloping the grade (for water drainage under the deck); black NON-PERVIOUS fabric with preferably a crushed (vs smooth pea gravel) stone which has a 'bite' to stay put on the slope when the water washes under it. Be sure to direct the H2O rnuoff away from porch support beams and out & away from your home at least 3-4' to an area that won't pond and create a mosquito haven.
  • Jeff C. Keane Jeff C. Keane on May 04, 2015
    Ruslzplace is correct: the pic is too small an area to determine the "context" this condition is within. another 10'x10' of surrounding conditions in the pic would go far to provide a rwal answer. Only thing I just noticed looking again at the pic, is, if you do not cover the stepped area with your porch, the exposed side wall of the garage (?) on the step side will have 'stepped' siding, but the (corrected) slope next to it will look odd. Also, I'm hoping for your sake that the garage wall has a concrete "high" or 'step up' on that side to protect from wood frame rot. you never know what you'll find behind 'siding'. also, if you leave the concrete stair, (to keep cost down) grade the slope in a 'v' shape between the stair & wall to form a 'trough' for the H2O to be directed away from building parts. The crushed stone can be filled in flat if you want to.
  • Anna Picket Anna Picket on Feb 02, 2016
    If you like the look of natural stone, you could have that make up your retaining wall. It just has to be done correctly. There are a lot of materials that can be used for that kind of thing. Do you know of any landscaping specialists that you could talk to about it?
  • Tracey Tracey on Feb 03, 2016
    Thanks! I agree I will need to bring in a professional lol