Railway tie retaining walls are a very common type of timber tie retaining wall and fantastic way to spruce up your outdoor living space while providing functionality. It’s an affordable and practical solution to any landscaping issue you may face. Whether you’re looking to retain soil to create a garden bed or create terraces, steps, or decorative borders, a railway tie retaining wall fits the bill. In this blog post, we will explore five ways to cover a railway tie retaining wall with different lumber materials and techniques (such as using creosote to make it last) that will add value and visual appeal to your home.
Before we delve into the various ways to make and cover a railroad tie retaining wall, you may also be interested in exploring two related articles: “What Is A Retaining Wall Deadman Anchor?” and “How To Install Landscape Timbers On A Slope.” These articles provide valuable insights into enhancing the stability and functionality of your retaining wall, as well as creating visually appealing landscapes.
The Main Task Of A Retaining Wall
Retaining walls are a crucial element in landscaping, serving the primary purpose of holding back soil from sloping down a hill or creating terraces. Whether you aspire to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor living space or tackle functional issues, retaining walls can be the solution you’re looking for. While many materials can be used to construct them, it is essential that they have a well-designed and sturdy retaining material on their face to prevent soil erosion and ensure the stability of the wall. Hence, retaining walls can be a crucial investment in your home’s overall aesthetics and functionality.
Covering Up Railway Tie Retaining Walls
Railway tie retaining walls have been a popular choice for decades due to their affordability and straightforward installation. They are a practical solution to keeping soil in place, creating level terraces, and adding visual appeal to an outdoor space. Although some homeowners appreciate the rustic charm of railway tie retaining walls, others prefer a more polished and updated look. Fortunately, there are several ways to cover up railway tie retaining walls and give them a facelift. From installing a lining made of natural stone or manufactured veneer to planting vines or installing trellises, there are many options to choose from. A well-designed and decorated retaining wall can not only add charm and beauty to your outdoor space but can also add value to your home. With the right materials and design, you can transform your railway tie retaining wall into a stunning and functional feature of your garden or backyard.
Below we will discuss four ways you can cover your railroad tie wall:
Use A Lining Of Natural Stone To Hide A Railway Tie Retaining Wall
One popular option is to use natural stone to cover up the face of the retaining wall. Natural stone cladding provides a beautiful and natural finish that can transform an old and drab retaining wall into a stunning and eye-catching feature of your outdoor space. Not only does it add to the visual appeal of your yard or garden, but it also further enhances the functional value of the retaining wall. Wall cladding made from natural stone provides long-lasting durability and protection to the underlying structure while minimizing erosion and soil runoff. The use of natural stone for cladding also offers a cost-effective solution as it requires low maintenance and is highly resistant to damage, ensuring your retaining wall maintains its original allure for years to come.
This option costs more upfront since stones are not usually cheap. You’ll need to find large, flat pieces that will cover the entire surface of your retaining wall and install them in sections as you build up. Ideally, these should be set close together so they look like a solid barrier from all viewing angles. Stones can also make for an attractive finish, especially if you alter the height of your retaining wall and use a variety of materials.
Put Sod Over It
This works for covering the top of the retaining wall, not the front face of it. So if you’re looking to cover the top of your railway tie retaining wall, using sod is an excellent natural and eco-friendly option. It blends well with the surrounding soil and adds to the visual appeal of your outdoor living space. To implement this option, the first step is to purchase a layer of topsoil and install it over the railroad ties. This creates enough depth for the grassroots or ground cover roots to take hold. However, it’s crucial to ensure that your wall has proper drainage, as excess water can cause the soil to erode and destabilize the wall structure.
In addition to the soil layer, you will also need to include an irrigation system to keep your plants in the sod healthy. This will provide a consistent supply of water to the roots and ensure that your plants survive in dry weather. However, it’s essential to note that sod requires regular upkeep to maintain its lush appearance. Regular watering and mowing are necessary to keep the grass looking its best and to avoid problems such as pest infestations.
While this option adds to the natural aesthetic appeal of your retaining wall, it may not be the most practical choice for those looking for a low-maintenance approach. The upkeep required to keep the sod looking its best may be a drawback for those with limited time or who prefer a more hands-off approach. Ultimately, it’s essential to consider the maintenance requirements when choosing the sod option to cover your railway tie retaining wall.
Cover It With Concrete Blocks
When it comes to covering your railway tie retaining wall, concrete blocks can be a practical and affordable option. Not only can they give your wall a modern and updated look, but they also provide excellent stability and security for your retaining structure. However, it’s important to ensure that you choose the right type and size of concrete blocks for the job.
One crucial factor to consider is the size and weight of your blocks. You will need both small and large blocks that are sturdy enough to stand up on their own without additional support. Large blocks can add additional stability to the retaining wall, while small blocks can help fill in gaps and create a uniform appearance. It’s also essential to let the blocks dry in the sun before installation to minimize any movement that may occur once set in place.
In addition to the size and weight of the blocks, choosing the correct adhesive material is crucial to ensure the blocks won’t fall. Strong concrete adhesive or structural adhesive can ensure a durable and long-lasting bond between the blocks and the retaining wall. You may also need to consider reinforcing your retaining wall with rebar or steel mesh to prevent cracking.
It’s important to note that while concrete blocks are a cost-effective solution for covering up a railway tie retaining wall, they may not be the most visually appealing option. However, with the right design and color scheme, you can create a sleek and modern look that adds to the overall appeal of your outdoor living space. With a little bit of effort, you can give your retaining wall a facelift that will last for years to come.
This is an easy way to cover your railroad tie retaining wall without spending money on installation costs or worrying about maintaining your retaining wall. Cedar boards are a great material because they’re strong and durable, but also easy to install without any help or expensive equipment. You can get the cedar boards in different lengths so you don’t have to worry about cutting them down yourself. Make sure the height of your retaining wall is appropriate for what you need before you install the boards, and then attach them to your retaining wall with screws.
In order to make sure they stay in place, drill pilot holes into the top of each board before screwing it together. If you have any overhanging parts on your railroad tie retaining wall that need a special spot for installation, use cedar blocks so they can be screwed in easily.
If you’re going to paint your cedar boards, use a primer before painting them so they don’t absorb the pigment and color too quickly. If you have these components of railroad tie retaining wall already assembled, make sure not to leave it lying on its side because this could cause moisture damage or rot the wood.
Plant Shrubs At The Base Of The Retaining Wall
Enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a railway tie retaining wall can be a challenging task, but planting shrubs at its base is a simple and effective way to achieve this. A well-planned and executed landscaping project can transform your retaining wall into a lush and vibrant feature of your outdoor living space. While this option may take a little bit of time for the shrubs to grow to their full potential, the end result is well worth the wait.
The first step in implementing this option is to carefully choose the right types of shrubs and location to plant them. The shrubs should thrive in your local climate and feature foliage that complements the surrounding landscape. Once you have chosen your shrubs, it’s essential to plant them in optimal locations where they can receive proper sunlight and nutrients. Space them appropriately, so they have enough room to grow without encroaching on each other’s space.
To make caring for your shrubs easier over time, you may also want to consider installing a watering system. This can help ensure your plants receive the appropriate amount of water, even during dry periods, without requiring manual watering. While this option may require some initial investment in terms of time and money, the end result is a beautifully landscaped garden full of greenery and color that enhances the visual appeal of your outdoor living space.
In summary, planting shrubs at the base of your railway tie retaining wall is an excellent and straightforward option for adding greenery and color to your garden. This landscaping method’s biggest advantage is its natural beauty and the gradual transformation of the stark wall into a lush, vibrant, and eco-friendly feature of your outdoor living space.
How To Build A Wall With Railroad Ties: Before You Cover A Railway Tie Retaining Wall You Must Build It First
Of course, before you actually think about covering the retaining wall, you have to build it first. This is the process.
To create a railway tie retaining wall, a series of steps must be followed to ensure its successful construction. Firstly, begin by measuring the length and height of the area where you intend to build the retaining wall. This will help you determine the amount of materials you will need and how much excavation work may be required.
Once you have defined the length and height of the retaining wall, the next step is to begin marking and excavating the area where the wall will sit. It’s crucial to take note of any potential drainage issues or other obstacles that might be present in the excavation site.
The next step is to level the ground and prepare the base where the railway ties will be placed. This is a critical step, as a level base ensures the structural integrity of the retaining wall.
After preparing the foundation, the next step is to install the railway ties. Be sure to stagger the joints between each tie and secure them with rebar or steel pins to ensure they stay in place.
Once the railway ties have been anchored in place, the next step is to backfill the retaining wall with soil, making sure to compact it layer by layer to prevent settling.
With the retaining wall structure in place, now you can consider your wall’s coverage. Whether you choose to install natural stone cladding, concrete blocks, or plant shrubs at its base, there are many ways to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your retaining wall.
So before you cover your railway tie retaining wall, it is crucial to take the time to build it properly. And with all the options available for a wall covering, it is easier than ever to transform your retaining wall into a stunning feature of your outdoor living space.
- 🏗️ The video is about building a wood retaining wall.
- 📐 A laser level is used to ensure the wall is the correct height.
- 🚜 A backhoe or excavator can be rented to quickly remove soil and old timbers.
- ⏰ Renting equipment can save time and energy compared to doing the work by hand.
- 💦 Wetting the surface before compacting soil or rock can make it easier and reduce dust.
- 🧱 Two types of rock are used: a crushed sub base rock and rounded drain rock.
- 🪓 A reciprocating saw is used to cut the timbers to the correct size.
- 🔨 Timbers are secured with timber fasteners and rebar stakes.
- 🌿 A woven ground cover barrier is used to separate the soil from the drainage rock.
- 💧 A perforated drainage pipe with a sleeve is used to properly drain moisture.
- 🔩 10-inch timber lock screws are used as fasteners for the retaining wall.
- 🪓 Proper support is important for a retaining wall, including the use of deadheads.
- 🛠️ Pre-cutting timbers to the correct size can make installation easier and more secure.
- 🔩 Strong drills are needed to sink 10-inch long screws for fastening.
- 🤝 Connecting beams together provides stability and strength.
- 📐 Aligning timbers and using a level can create a more professional look.
- 🪨 Rounded drain rock is visually appealing and can be used as a landscape accent.
- 🧱 Backfilling with soil behind the barrier can be challenging when using a lot of rock, but it’s beneficial if possible.
- 🌿 A layer of ground fabric is placed on top of the retaining wall before backfilling soil to prevent the topsoil from mixing with drainage rock.
- 🏡 The finished retaining wall adds value and creates additional usable space.
How To Keep Railroad Ties From Rotting When Used In Landscaping Features
To prevent railroad ties from rotting when used in landscaping features, follow these essential steps:
- Apply a wood preservative or sealant to protect against moisture.
- Ensure proper drainage to avoid water accumulation.
- Elevate the ties slightly above the ground to keep them dry.
- Conduct regular inspections and maintenance to detect and address any signs of decay promptly.
By following these straightforward guidelines, you can preserve the integrity and visual appeal of your railroad ties in landscaping features.
Frequently Asked Questions About Railroad Tie Retaining Walls
Are railroad ties good for retaining walls?
If railroad ties are your only option, they can work but the whole issue is ground stability.
Spikes will hold it together very well so there’s no need for a base and, if you want to make it wider or taller, you can stack them on top of each other vertically. You’ll have no problems with stability but anchoring the posts in dry soil will be an issue. In wet conditions, they swell too much and will shift or twist and crack apart in gaps between boards.
The question is, how to make railroad ties look better?
If everything is well aligned (i.e. the wall is well made), and by breaking things up with some plants with color, natural railway tie retaining walls have their very own rugged appeal.
How much does a railroad tie retaining wall cost?
A railroad tie retaining wall can cost anywhere from $1.5-$2 per linear foot, or about $250 for 165 feet.
Here are a few of the costs associated with such an endeavor:
The quantity of railroad ties needed is determined by the height and length of the slope being retained (the taller and longer the slope, the more ties will be needed). For every 5 inches in height, you’ll need 8’x8″s for one pier; so if your slope is 10-feet tall you’ll need 24 piers either end to retain it. Lengthwise, each pier should be at least 3 feet long (36″).
How long will a railroad tie retaining wall last?
40 to 50 years. Railroad ties are put down in place and attached to the ground. They have no self-draining or drying abilities so they have a tendency to dry out or break apart due to shrinking soil volume over time. Adding more gravel to increase water drainage and airflow will likely make them last for more than 50 years.
How do I build a railroad tie retaining wall?
To build a railroad tie retaining wall, you will first need to gather the necessary materials and tools. Then, you will need to level the ground and prepare the area where the wall will be constructed. Finally, you can begin building the wall by placing the first layer of railroad ties, securing them together with screws or spikes, and adding additional layers as needed.
Can I use railroad ties to build a retaining wall?
Yes, using railroad ties is a popular choice for building retaining walls. They are sturdy, durable, and readily available. However, it’s important to note that railroad ties should be properly treated to prevent rot and decay.
What are the different types of retaining walls I can build?
There are several types of retaining walls you can choose from, including railroad tie retaining walls, concrete block retaining walls, and stone retaining walls. The choice depends on your personal preference, budget, and the specific requirements of your project.
Do I need to level the ground before building a railroad tie retaining wall?
Yes, it is essential to level the ground before constructing a railroad tie retaining wall. This will ensure that the wall is stable and properly aligned. You can use a shovel and a level to achieve a level surface.
How long should the railroad tie retaining wall be?
The length of the wall will depend on your specific needs and the available space. You can determine the length by measuring the area where you want to build the retaining wall.
What is a deadman in the context of a railroad tie retaining wall?
In the context of a railroad tie retaining wall, a deadman refers to a piece of treated wood or another sturdy material that is anchored perpendicular to the wall. Deadmen provide additional stability and support to the structure.
Can I add a railroad tie to an existing retaining wall?
Yes, it is possible to add a railroad tie to an existing retaining wall. However, it is important to ensure that the tie is secured properly and that it aligns with the rest of the wall. You may need to use screws or spikes to attach the tie securely.
How far apart should I space the railroad ties in a retaining wall?
The spacing between railroad ties in a retaining wall depends on the height and length of the wall, as well as the ground conditions. As a general guideline, it is recommended to space the ties approximately 2 feet to 4 feet apart.
Do I need to tamp the soil behind the retaining wall?
Yes, it is important to tamp the soil behind the retaining wall to ensure proper compaction. Tamping helps prevent settling and ensures the stability of the wall. You can use a tamp or a compactor to achieve a tightly packed soil.
What are the benefits of using caged rocks behind a railroad tie retaining wall?
Using caged rocks behind a railroad tie retaining wall can help improve drainage and reduce the pressure exerted on the wall by ground water. The rocks allow water to flow freely, minimizing the risk of erosion and damage to the wall.
In conclusion, a railroad tie retaining wall is not only an affordable and practical solution for landscaping but also a great way to spruce up your outdoor living space. Whether you choose to retain soil, create garden beds, build terraces, or add decorative borders, a railroad tie retaining wall can provide both functionality and visual appeal to your home.
When it comes to covering a railroad tie retaining wall, there are several options to choose from. You can use a lining of natural stone, which not only adds beauty but also offers durability and protection to the wall. Another option is to put sod over the top of the wall, blending it well with the surrounding soil. This option adds a natural aesthetic appeal but requires regular upkeep.
Concrete blocks can be a practical and affordable option for covering the wall, providing stability and a modern look. Cedar boards are also a great choice, offering strength, durability, and easy installation. Planting shrubs at the base of the retaining wall can enhance its aesthetic appeal over time, creating a lush and vibrant outdoor space.
Before covering the railroad tie retaining wall, it is crucial to build it properly, ensuring a level base and secure anchoring. With the right materials and design, you can transform your retaining wall into a stunning feature of your outdoor living space.
Overall, a well-designed and decorated retaining wall can not only add charm and beauty but also value to your home. Consider your preferences, maintenance requirements, and budget to choose the best option for covering your railroad tie retaining wall. With careful planning and execution, you can enjoy a beautiful and functional outdoor space for years to come.
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