dethfire
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timber vs block for retaining wall

Moved into new house a few months ago. I got a sloping back yard with an existing retaining wall that looks "do-it-yourself". It needs to be redone. The wall is at the property line in the backyard and faces a side of the next house. There is zero curb appeal and even those in the backyard won't see the wall. Given that fact, I am leaning towards the cheaper timber, but some contractors warn against it. Some say no problem, they can last 20 years easy with no fail. The cost difference is about $2000. Advice?

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

Depends on how long you plan to live there. Timber will rot and need to be repaired when it gets loose. How old will you be in twenty years. Would you want to replace it then. Cinder block, unless there is an earthquake or a truck runs into it will last a lifetime. Just don't plant anything up against it. you don't want roots getting under the foundation and most plants do not like to be up against a hot wall anyway. Only vandas and night blooming cereus actually went' toward it. Everything else leaned away to get more light and away from the heat of the wall. Make sure it has the proper drain holes, footings and supports.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Peter1142
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Location: SE NY ZONE 6B

Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

If you want a good retaining wall that does a good job don't use either use reinforced concrete.
Zone 6b SE NY
My blog Peter's Vegetable Garden

dethfire
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Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

We plan on staying 10+ years. We don't care what it looks like as long as it's structurally sound. Obviously we'd like to save money and not go with some material that could be used as a centerpiece in landscaping.

dethfire
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Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

Is it a matter of looks or stability. The wall is literally 6ft from the side of another house. No one will see it.

ButterflyLady29
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Location: central Ohio

Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

Then what about termites? When we bought this house the previous owners had a railroad timber edged flower bed in the back yard. The ties were infested with termites which were also working on the house framing. Fortunately we found the problem before much damage was done to the house. The ties went to the landfill.

Those rr ties still smelled like the creosote used to treat them.

dethfire
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Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

I live where termites aren't a problem

Peter1142
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Location: SE NY ZONE 6B

Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

How tall is the wall? CMU makes a poor retaining wall.
Zone 6b SE NY
My blog Peter's Vegetable Garden

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: timber vs block for retaining wall

We actually use CMU all of the time as retaining walls. They have to be properly reinforced and they need weep holes. Rock walls also work as retaining walls but they cost more to build and they harbor more critters. Most slopes between lots are 3 ft or shorter, but some can be 5-6 ft. Slopes can be 30 ft or more. Some lots have a steeply sloping front or side yard which is also usually terraced or turfed. You have to use a weedwhacker on a slope. Terracing gives you more usuable yard and land here costs more than the house.

We would also have the termite problem, but wood is usually treated or it is redwood, but even redwood rots. If it is a tall slope, most people terrace it. If you have to pay for a slope, you may as well make it useful. Wood is not cheap here as it has to be imported so it is not cost effective to use wood to retain anything. In a tropical climate wood would not last long.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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