Asked on Jun 05, 2014

How would I remove a railroad tie retaining wall?

Duncan Sproule
by Duncan Sproule
I have a raised bed garden plot against my house with railroad ties retaining the dirt, about 2-3 ties high. I would like to remove the ties and the dirt to utilize both elsewhere. I can't seem to pry the ties out/up to remove them. Would it work if I removed the dirt first? Do I need a BIG pry-bar/wrecking bar (one of those 6' heavy bars used for demolition..?) ...Help! Any advice is appreciated.
  10 answers
  • Natalie McElhaney-Horton Natalie McElhaney-Horton on Jun 05, 2014
    You have to remove the dirt first. Often once the dirt settles around them it's like concrete. I'd take a rototiller to the dirt along the edge of it to help you break it up first being careful not to get to close to the ties. Save yourself some backbreaking. I'm in Oklahoma so digging in any dirt around here is always tough and we have railroad ties as well. Good luck!
  • Lesley Lesley on Jun 05, 2014
    I ran into this problem with a rental house. Turns out the ties were bolted together, then turned upside down. No wonder those suckers gave me a hard time!
  • Duncan Sproule Duncan Sproule on Jun 05, 2014
    I think there may be a bolt or spike through them... Into the ground? Or bolting them together??
  • Duncan Sproule Duncan Sproule on Jun 05, 2014
    ...After I remove the dirt, will I need that "wrecking bar"?
  • Phyllis Mulford Phyllis Mulford on Jun 05, 2014
    If they are rotted it will be esker. Usually the old ones are a biohazard due to the creosote they infuse them with. I am a realtor and the termite inspectors never want wool against the hues or other than the foundation, the siding should never touch the ground due to termites. Termites love wet areas, they eat the wood and fill the void with mud, More than you wanted to know i bet!!!!
  • Lesley Lesley on Jun 06, 2014
    Duncan, mine were bolted together, but not into the soil. Grab a crowbar if your wall isn't too tall to see what in the world is going on!
  • Paula Snodgrass Paula Snodgrass on Jun 06, 2014
    I removed mine using a saws-all. Cut right through the large spikes that were used to hold the ties together. Cut the ties then into smaller sections that were easy to lift. Then a crowbar or other prying tool. I happen to have a very large heavy pry bar that I used to lift the cut sections out of the earth. I didn't worry about moving the earth inside the beds because I was leveling the area out.
  • Duncan Sproule Duncan Sproule on Jun 06, 2014
    Yes! -- I intend to empty the area of dirt anyway, to build a porch/deck. But I want to keep the ties - no creosote, not really RR ties, they just look like them - to use for terracing a small hill-side garden... That's the plan anyway! :) -- Thanks for all the advice everyone...
  • Lynda Lynda on Jun 08, 2014
    Try placing a concrete block about 12" away from the outside edge of the ties. One block on each end. Then place a crowbar under each end of the ties and rest the other end on the concrete blocks. Have a friend stand on the end of one crow bar and you stand on the other. Sort of like a see-saw. Be sure to have something to keep both of you balanced and then see if the weight of two people will lift the ties a bit off the ground so you can perhaps see what's going on underneath. Maybe a 3rd person could push a brick under the ties if you do get them raised enough to see the underside.
  • Lynda Innes-Stromberg Lynda Innes-Stromberg on Jun 11, 2021

    We have 4 old rotted RR ties on the sides and top of a walkway that is cement squares. When we remove those what is a good fix for replacement?