By utilizing one of several retaining wall system alternatives, you can save quite a bit of money and still enhance the appearance and function of your yard space. Traditional retaining wall systems that include interlocking bricks and prefabricated designs in the stone can be very attractive, but also carry a hefty price tag. There are several alternative means that you can use to create a retaining wall that will still look original and be of a fairly high functional quality.
The first method is to use standard block or bricks. If you elect to use this retaining wall system alternative, then you will need to make sure that you dig a footer and pour a shallow concrete pad for the blocks to sit on. It is important to the long-term integrity of your wall that they have a hard level surface to function as their base.
You will build the wall up just as you would any structural block wall, using the block or brick of your choice and standard mason mix for mortar. Make sure the unfinished side of the brick or block is the side that is going to be backfilled.
Another popular retaining wall system alternative is the use of natural stones. These are more readily available in some parts of the country than others and, if you can get them, they make a great old-fashioned looking retaining wall.
These are especially popular in the Northeastern part of the country. Hand select stones that fit together to create a unique and surprisingly sturdy wall. If necessary, you can anchor the base stones together with a little bit of mortar mix so that they won’t roll out from under each other.
A third common retaining wall system alternative involves the use of wooden landscaping timbers. These are a fairly inexpensive option and the landscaping timbers can be purchased at just about any lumberyard. Some folks choose to cut costs even further by heading out to their local railroad tracks and gathering discarded railroad timbers.
These are ideal because they are already treated with creosote and will last for a very long time. There are several ways to tie them together but the most common is to drill a hole all the way through the timber and then drive a piece of metal rebar all the way through one timber and into the next.
This creates a tight fit that won’t separate, but still allows the wood the freedom that it needs to shrink and expand with the changing humidity of the various seasons.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of using retaining wall system alternatives is the ability that you have to be creative. Engineered systems are great and they look very nice, but nothing will be as original and unique to your space as something that you took the time to create and design on your own.