Typically built from wooden landscaping timbers, cribbing retaining walls are a little more time consuming to build than a traditional retaining wall. The upside of this style is that it creates a very attractive and unique twist on the standard retaining wall design and appearance.
A cribbing retaining wall is constructed using landscape timbers that have space in between each layer. The gaps are created using short pieces of timber that have been cut off longer pieces of timber. Aside from aesthetics, using this style of retaining walls allow you to create curved walls.
There are many instances where a retaining wall that is curved or even “S” shaped is necessary to create the kind of landscaping space that you want. Building these takes a little more time and planning than standard walls, so make sure that you make a good step-by-step plan for yourself before you begin.
Step by Step
The first step is to create a good foundation on which to build your cribbing retaining wall. Dig a shallow trench for your first course to sit in. You may even want to pour a shallow concrete footer to ensure that your first course won’t move when the ground freezes and thaws.
Once the footer is dried and you are confident that it is level, then you are ready to begin adding additional courses. Lay the shorter pieces of timber perpendicular to the length of the first course to create the base for the second full course.
You can fasten each course to the previous one by using the metal rebar method that is common when building standard wooden retaining walls. This is done by drilling a ½” hole through the timber and driving a piece of metal rebar all the way through that timber and into the one directly underneath it. When building a cribbing style wall, make sure that the holes line up with the supports underneath each course.
When building any type of wooden structure that is going to be used outside, it is important that the wood be properly treated. The natural elements are very hard on wood and if you don’t take the time to treat it you will find that your cribbing retaining wall is drying out, splitting, and maybe even rotting after only a few years.
The best way to treat the wood is by coating it with creosote. This tar like product will not only make the wood water resistant, but will also prevent any bugs, like termites, from making their home in your new wooden retaining wall.
As stated above, a cribbing retaining wall can be a little more difficult to design and build, but the end result will make the extra effort well worth it. There aren’t many things more satisfying that being able to look at a custom feature for your home that you designed and built from scratch all by yourself.