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How to Fix A Wood Retaining Wall

Wood retaining walls are a thing of beauty. They help level out the slopes on your lawn while also making your landscaping look professionally designed. But over the years, the wood retaining walls do cave in. 

Now, if you can build a wood retaining wall by yourself, you can very well fix it too. But how, right?

Well, the easiest way to fix a wood retaining wall is to support the wall with some sturdy wooden posts, replace the damaged lumber, and put in new gravel to make it good as new.

There are, of course, other ways of fixing a wood retaining wall depending on the reasons and damage. In this article, we will try to solve all your problems with your wood retaining wall.

Ready? Let’s get started.

How to Fix A Wood Retaining Wall

There are many reasons why your wood retaining wall might be failing. But in all cases, there are some staple steps that you need to follow. This is a rule-of-thumb technique to fixing a wood retaining walls –

  1. Carefully take apart the lumber on the wall
  2. Level the ground 
  3. Dig holes for posts that would support the wall at an equal distance
  4. Fix any curve or sway of the fence carefully
  5. Use new lumber on the wall
  6. Once all the lumber is put in place, mix the concrete
  7. Pour the concrete in the post holes and burst all the bubbles in the concrete with a stick
  8. When that’s all settled, you can go ahead and add paneling boards to make everything look nice and coherent.

Identifying the Problem

Now, Let’s look a bit deeper; what seems to be the problem. Most of the time, you will catch the wall before it goes beyond the point of repair. If your wall has completely fallen apart or crumbled, there is no other way than to rebuild it.

But, if you do catch the lean or bulge of the wall before it goes overboard, you can reverse the damage. You just have to find the root of the problem first. Here are a few common causes of a wood retaining wall failure-

Poor Drainage and Density

The density of the soil will put more pressure on the wall. The retainer gets loaded with this pressure as the water gets trapped inside the ground and makes it heavy. 

Sandy soil is much lighter, but over time the density of your wall can increase, which in turn will increase the pressure on your wood retaining wall, causing it to splinter and damage.

Saturation of the Soil

This is quite similar to the soil being weighed down. But instead of drainage, it is the saturation of the earth that increases the pressure on the wall. When you first build the wall, you have to make sure there’s very little void space in between.

If there are gaps in the soil, over time, the soil will press down on itself. It will increase the pressure on the wall incredibly. It will also decrease the height of the wall.

Unwanted Tilt

This would seem like a beginning sign rather than a cause for retaining wall failure. But, this is a prevalent issue with many DIY retainer walls. A slight tilt, in the beginning, maybe unnoticeable to you. But it increases the chance of retaining wall failure immensely. 

Close Layers

If you have different layers of retaining walls on your lawn, you have to be careful about where you put them. The layers to close will increase the pressure on the wedge onto the lowest layer. The walls will eventually bulge and fall apart.

Cheap Materials

Another common problem with DIY wood retaining walls. Since many people have little idea about construction and lawn care combined, they tend to buy the first available thing they find.

The cheaper type of materials will easily break down over time and give way to a reclining wall.

Quick Ways to Fix A Wood Retaining Wall

Alright then, now that we have what’s threatening your wood wall to topple over let’s fix it. Shall we?

Proper Drainage System

Your wood retaining walls must have a proper drainage system. Every wood retaining wall needs to have at least 10 inches of drainage stone or gravel for appropriate functioning drainage. It makes the flow of water easier to pass-through.

Concrete wall blocks can be helpful in creating drainage.

Proper Saturation

You have to properly compress the soil to make sure all the void spaces are dealt with. A wall that has been compressed well has lesser chances of falling apart from its own weight.


You can add more strength and stability to your retaining wall by anchoring it with bolts and making it much sturdier. Good reinforcement can stop a wall from reclining and toppling.

When to Seek Professional Help

When the wall has bulged too much or leaned too much to one side, it probably means there is nothing you can do with your at-home lawn care tools. When you have tried out these solutions and the wall is still not entirely functional, it is time to call the service professionals.


If you’ve come all the way here, thank you so much for reading. We hope we have answered your question as to how to fix a wood retaining wall. Use these tips and tricks to identify the problem, remedy it, and maintain your wood retaining wall in perfect condition. Good Luck!


What kind of wood should I use?

The best wood to use for a retaining wall would be any kind of pressure-treated wood. We recommend Douglas Fir.

Does the wood-retaining wall need drainage?

Definitely. It is absolutely essential for you to install a proper drainage system behind your wood retaining wall. Otherwise, the wall will collapse in on itself over time.

What kind of cement should I use?

Use ant kind of fast-setting concrete. You should mix it beforehand and pour it into the post hole immediately. The purpose of it being fast setting is to prevent the sloping of the wall.

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