How to Build a Retaining Wall

The simplest, cheapest, back-friendliest retaining wall in history

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Hammer
  • Miter saw
  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Cordless drill
  • Circular saw
  • Chalk line
  • Level
  • Hearing protection
  • Jigsaw
  • Stapler
  • Safety glasses
  • Spade
  • Utility knife

For large walls you'll need to rent a bobcat

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • (For a 32-ft. wall)
  • 1 Roll of ice-and-water barrier
  • 1 50' roll of 4" drain tile
  • 8 – 4 x 8 x 1/2" treated plywood (sheathing)
  • 2 – 2 x 6 x 16' treated (footing plates)
  • 20 – 2 x 4 x 8' treated (studs and struts)
  • 8 – 2 x 4 x 16' treated (sleeper and wall plates)
  • 2 – 2 x 8 x 16' treated (top cap)
  • 20 – 1 x 6 x 8' treated (trim boards)
  • 8 – 1 x 4 x 8’ (braces)
  • 16d galvanized framing nails
  • 8d galvanized framing nails
  • 2" deck screws
  • 3" deck screws
  • Ice and water barrier
  • Drain tile
  • Gravel
  • Topsoil
  • Exterior stain