Retaining Wall Ideas: How To Use A Wonderful Landscape Tool

Here are two things you need to know about to understand railroad tie retaining walls. The first thing is railroad ties. Railroad ties are beams that were originally used to create railroads, especially traditional ones. 

Today, railroad ties are being replaced by metal counterparts, but they are still in use in certain areas. But when railroads are replaced, the railroad ties are repurposed, often landing in the hands of everyday people

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You can work with it to become part of your landscape design. But a French drain isn’t the only option. There are plenty of different types of drains you can make, and the point is to make sure the water is led to somewhere you want it to go. 

You can construct a railroad tie retaining wall using a gravel foundation. This foundation will absorb excess water. The rebar will not affect the wall and will keep it stable. You can install the railroad ties on any level.  

Take some railroad ties, rebar, and gravel, and you have all the materials for building a simple retaining tie wall like the guys at Such and Such Farms did.

Once you’ve got a good area for your wall made, put down a foundational layer of gravel. We did ours about 4″ inches thick and tamped it down really well. 

This will provide bottom drainage for the wall, allowing the water to drain away through the gravel instead of pushing the railroad ties out or eroding the dirt away from the wall. 

Cutting a large part of a sloping yard out to make room for a livable, usable back yard is a possible solution with the addition of a retaining wall.  

Using a sledgehammer as a tamper works pretty well to tamp gravel under the front or back edge to adjust it.  


The best thing to use is a long wood auger bit as opposed to one of those drill bit extender things. The drill bit extender will probably work. However, it will also probably come loose in one of the railroad ties at some point. 

Measure the entire length and height of the retaining wall with a tape measure. Place a level on the ground’s surface to ensure it is level along the entire stretch where the first layer of railroad ties will be placed.

You want to cover about half of the railroad tie, so drill down halfway and use a smaller bit to make a hole that will allow the screw to pass through. You can drill down a few inches, so you don’t have to have 12-inch screws or bolts. This is a normal way to secure them.  

Then, you can add a decorative border to the retaining wall with a decorative wood plank or any other material you want to use. 

In addition, if you have a large lawn, you can use sod for the topsoil. In areas where moisture levels are moderate, these chemicals may wash into surrounding soil with rain but will likely decompose with time. 

Retaining of Walls Using Brick


Brick is a safe choice with more options than you’d think. It is safer and more secure than railroad ties, but it is harder to work with. 

To use brick, you need to know about bricklaying and how to use mortar. Stone Stone is one of the most beautiful types of retaining walls. 

Natural stone walls are another popular choice when building freestanding or retaining walls. Many homeowners choose a natural stone because it’s aesthetically pleasing and durable for exterior use.  

Landscaping timbers that are staggered appropriately (like a log cabin) and fastened together and to the ground with rebar (very dry climates only). 

Fortunately for everyone, they also documented all the major steps on how to build a retaining wall with railroad ties, complete with some great pictures.

The entire project is relatively simple and requires a few specialized tools outside of an auger bit, a big drill, and a few heavy hammers.

More details for crosstie retaining walls at Building a Retaining Wall With Railroad Ties

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