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Using railway ties or large wood  timbers to build a retaining wall

Using wood to build a retaining wall means it won't last as long as blocks or concrete but it is much easier. And in most cases, they ire the least expensive option. 

If you are comfortable with basic carpentry, you shouldn't have problem building a wood or landscape tie retaining wall. In dry area, a wood wall can be built without base or tricky backfill.

Steps can be made by joining two 6x6 timbers and are incorporated easily into these walls. It is simple to make 90 and 45 corners,  curves are a little more tricky.

Timbers range from used railroad ties to manufactured landscape ties. If you can find them, used railroad ties are fairly inexpensive, but they are often treated with creosote. They also are normally inconsistent in dimension and
often not very straight. This combination can make for tricky building.

The most commonly used material is pressure treated 6x6 landscape timbers. You use a rough-sawn, dimensional 6x6 for a rustic look, or a planed 6x6 (actually 51/2 in.) for a more-finished look. Far shorter walls a 4x6 timber also can be used.

The length of the ties also varies a 12 ft. or 16-ft beam can cover a lot
ground but is difficult to handle as is quite heavy. An 8-ft. tie is more manage-
for one person.

The obvious drawback to using wood is that they eventually rot. Pressure
treated timbers will last longer than untreated by years, but be aware that the manufacture warranty on new pressure treated board may not be honored if the tie is cut.

This is because you open up the grain on the end so that water can get in. Just remember to use a sealer on the ends when you do make a cut.

Back to main page on building a retaining wall in the back or front yard.