Retaining walls make just about any landscape more interesting, and they have many practical benefits, too. By holding in soil and preventing it from collapsing into a slope, they can:

  • Stop erosion in hilly areas where rain would otherwise chip away at the landscape.
  • Manage water flow from your home, garage, and other structures, to reduce the chance of flooding.
  • Create terraces on hilly terrain that give you more flat space to enjoy.
  • Be used as boundary markers that are clear, but more subtle than a fence or wall.
  • Be used to create raised garden beds.
  • Add visual interest to otherwise flat landscapes.

Though all retaining walls hold back soil, they can be built in many shapes and styles, and from several types of materials. Timber, block, and stone are classic choices, and each has its own unique benefits and appeal. We install each type of retaining wall, and on this page, we’ll focus on Timber Retaining Walls.

Why Choose a Timber Retaining Wall?

There are several reasons that make timber a great choice for retaining walls.

Timber is strong and solid, but as an organic material, it’s also warm and inviting. It can have a rustic charm that many people appreciate. Just about everyone loves a log cabin and using timber is almost like bringing some of that log cabin feel into your landscape.

Some of the practical reasons to choose timber include its versatility in retaining-wall designs, generally lower cost than stone or block, and environmental friendliness as a renewable resource.

Timber retaining walls can be made from either pressure-treated or non-treated wood. Douglas fir and pine tend to be pressure treated. This gives them high durability and resistance to potential pests.

The usual choice for non-pressure-treated wood is cedar, because it’s naturally very strong and resistant to decomposition and insects, more than most other wood species.

The most common choice is pressure-treated wood, but which option is best for your landscape depends on your vision and budget.

Both treated and untreated woods can be used as large pieces of timber, or cut into smaller shapes and sizes, allowing for a great amount of flexibility in the look and design of the retaining wall. 

Timber Retaining Wall Installation Process

Our first step is to understand your goals, and work with you to create a design that fits your vision, budget, and landscape. We’ll survey your property to learn about the terrain and soil conditions. Whether you’re looking to prevent soil erosion, add usable flat areas, or take your garden’s beauty up a level, our designs are made to bring your vision to life.

If any permits are needed for the design, we can help you get them, so your landscape improvements aren’t held up by red tape.

The typical height for a timber retaining wall is less than four feet. This works well with most landscapes. But we have experience making walls up to [impressive number] high. If you need a tall or unusually shaped retaining wall, the Landscape Guys can build it!

Once you approve the design, our team will prepare the site. The exact method to install a timber wall varies depending on the type, shape, and wood used, but here are common steps:

For the foundation of the wall, we’ll dig a trench, compact the soil, and then add about six inches of gravel. If we’re installing a wall with horizontally stacked timbers, we attach them to the ground with metal rods, secure them to the soil mass with wooden anchors, and use long wood screws between the timbers. This makes a very solid wall.

If we’re installing a wall where the timbers are vertical, we’ll use concrete to create a solid base for them, making sure each timber is deeply embedded for stability. To prevent the timbers from shifting and to increase the wall’s strength, we secure horizontal metal strips to the inside of the timbers. This supports the vertical alignment and helps the wall bear lateral earth pressures. To further reinforce the wall, we may interlink the vertical timbers with horizontal ones at different levels, providing additional stability against soil movement.

Good drainage is important for either type of wall. Otherwise, the soil can become chronically waterlogged after rain. Besides just being a mud pit, this can potentially degrade the wall through water damage and high soil pressure. We use a combination of filter fabric, gravel, and perforated drain pipes to make sure the area behind the wall drains well.

After construction, we’ll fill in the area immediately behind the wall with soil, and prepare it for any additional landscaping services you might need. Whether it’s planting new greenery, laying sod, creating a rock garden, or something else, we’ll make sure your property looks its best.

Contact us today to get started. We serve the entire Twin Cities area.