Yesterday, we started the project to install a new retaining wall in the back yard by tearing out the old railroad tie wall, removing some bushes, and starting to re-grade the area around the retaining wall.

I managed to miss getting a good picture yesterday of the wall before we started tearing it down, but here’s one we took a few weeks ago – you can see the old railroad tie wall just on the other side of the fence:

The Old Retaining Wall

We decided it was time to replace the wall for a couple of reasons; the first being that the railroad ties were rotted out and the whole wall has been leaning forward, making it a bit of an eye sore.  The second reason for wanting to redo the wall is that it provides the opportunity to do some re-grading in the back yard, especially around the stairs, so that we can get the riding lawn mower down the hill and into the area around the pool.

So, we started the project to remove the old retaining wall yesterday by just pulling on it enough that the wall fell over.  The wall was pretty rotted out, so it didn’t take much force at all.

Knocking Over the Old Wall

With the wall pretty much knocked down, I started digging up and transplanting all of the hosta that had been planted right along the edge of the retaining wall while the guys worked on hauling all of the railroad ties out.  We tried a few different approaches, but it seemed to work best to cut the stakes holding the railroad ties together with a reciprocating saw.  The wall was pretty rotted out, but the hardest part of this by far was digging out the ties that were buried below grade.

With all of the railroad ties removed, we started trying to re-grade the area below the retaining wall to remove all of the dirt that had fallen and get it back to level.  For this, we put the 54″ blade on our lawn tractor.  It worked ok to get a lot of the loose dirt moved to the edge of the ravine so we could shovel it over the side, but maneuvering was a little tight with only 5 feet between the fence and the wall, so it wasn’t as effective as we’d hoped.

Grading with the Lawn Tractor

With the old retaining wall down, the next steps are to cut the hillside back by a few feet to make room for the new retaining wall and all of the gravel fill that goes behind it.  We’re hoping to be able to complete that during the week so that we can start putting up the new wall next weekend!

Filed Under: Landscaping

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