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Thread: Retaining wall ideas?

  1. #1
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default Retaining wall ideas?

    My house is on a hill which I like. There is a good sized level lower yard and a fairly steep step up of about 6 vertical feet to where the hill was leveled for the house. I currently have grass on this hill and it is nightmare to mow! I would like to terrace it down to a couple steps that we can plant flowers in.

    I want something that looks nice! I am not thrilled w/ railroad ties which seem to be the classic AK standard. I thought about doing block and then some sort of stucco but not sure how that would do with freeze thaw cycles. Ultimate goal is for a DIY project on the cheap.

    any ideas?

  2. #2
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post

    any ideas?
    Yeah, talk to the guy who lives on Wasilla-Fishhook road. About a mile and a half on the right....cant miss him. Pretty sure he's a pro by now!

  3. #3
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default DIY Retaining Wall - planning

    One helpful article on some building basics:
    http://www.seattlepi.com/athome/4034...ire345403.html. Dry (mortarless) construction seems to be popular around Eagle River, and seems to offer good drainage. Several homes using premade block have made neat looking walls, but I have seen occasional natural stone walls that look very good and have held up well.

    For mortarless wall, finding rocks the right shape and size sounds key to wall durability. Last summer, I visited a rock quarry up the Old Glenn Hwy (north from Eagle River). Sorting through their piles to find suitable sizes and desired shape might be quicker, but they didn't sort rock by same characteristics as needed for building a dry (mortarless) retaining wall. It will still be a lot of work, though maybe less costly.

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    The fastest good looking durable wall I know of is the precast step back blocks that they stock at the home centers. If you want a block and stucco wall you need footer below frost line and a drainage system that will take the water around or under it. These things will make the price much more than you think and it could still be affected by frost jacking that would break it up. The home center blocks dry stack and only need to have 6 to 8 inches of crushed rock and the first course below ground level so you only need to dig down a foot or so. They lean back as you go up as well as let water pass through and look a bit like high end cut granite when installed.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Because I'm cheap I decided to replace our rotted wooden retaining wall with various rocks that we had around our yard. Are retaining wall is at most 30" high, and as I got the higher sections I ended up using wood blocks to hold the stones in place while the morter set up. If you have a decent supply of reasonably sized rocks, it's a pretty cheap and decent looking way to make up a retaining wall.


  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    My house is on a hill which I like. There is a good sized level lower yard and a fairly steep step up of about 6 vertical feet to where the hill was leveled for the house. I currently have grass on this hill and it is nightmare to mow! I would like to terrace it down to a couple steps that we can plant flowers in.

    I want something that looks nice! I am not thrilled w/ railroad ties which seem to be the classic AK standard. I thought about doing block and then some sort of stucco but not sure how that would do with freeze thaw cycles. Ultimate goal is for a DIY project on the cheap.

    any ideas?
    Get yourself two or three goats. Put 'em on fairly long chains. They will eat the grass, so you don't have to mow it. In a year or two, they will flatten out the hill, by dragging the chains around. The yard will look like a park in two years time.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    You did a good job in that cheap retaining wall. Masonry wall in Orange County is big so I think you can get lots of rocks from this company that offers the service. Keep up the frugality and creativity. The worlds needs more people like you.

  8. #8
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlSmith View Post
    You did a good job in that cheap retaining wall. Masonry wall in Orange County is big so I think you can get lots of rocks from this company that offers the service. Keep up the frugality and creativity. The worlds needs more people like you.
    Ummm....dude, you want someone to buy rocks in Calfornia and ship them to Alaska?

    What are you smoking? Seriously!

    With all our glaciers we a few rocks sitting around that we don't need any from California. They are free and don't need to be shipped, just pick them up off the ground.

  9. #9
    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Default Easy retaining walls

    I have seen a couple of articles on a retaining walls out of Sacrete (premixed concrete). Stack about 3 or 4 high end to end. Soak them down and let them set up. Stack next level. If going higher than about 5 back fill and lay a row width wise to make it stable then add another set lengthwise. As you stack set them slightly toward the hillside so they slope. If terracing back fill and start again at the hillside. If you catch the Sacrete on sell by the pallet load you can sometimes get a pretty inexpensive wall. After time the paper all disintegrates and you are left with a decent looking grey cement wall. If you get in patient you can help it along by ripping the paper by hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    Because I'm cheap I decided to replace our rotted wooden retaining wall with various rocks that we had around our yard. Are retaining wall is at most 30" high, and as I got the higher sections I ended up using wood blocks to hold the stones in place while the morter set up. If you have a decent supply of reasonably sized rocks, it's a pretty cheap and decent looking way to make up a retaining wall.

    You are cheap but you ride an OLMO????
    You aren't cheap, you just have priorities!
    If you were cheap it would be a Huffy!
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    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  11. #11
    Member grcg's Avatar
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    Default ...other stuff to think about.

    We made a retaining wall in our current house out of the keystone-type concrete blocks. It looks very, very nice. And without the colorful language, I will tell you that my husband has volunteered to never do that again.

    There are box shaped cages you can buy at the block and gravel places whose purpose is to hold gravel and/or stone. We have a friend that used them for a retaining wall at his house on Hillside (Anch) and I was surprised at how much I liked how it looked. The ones he had were about 3' on a side. He just set them where he wanted them, anchored them, and filled them with gravel and stone and closed the top. A lot easier to deal with than the size of concrete blocks that we got for our wall. But a decidedly different look.

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