timber retaining wall

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by cutntrim, May 7, 2001.

  1. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    Condo building that we maintain wants a retaining wall alongside a front walk that currently has a big drop-off to the grass area adjoining it. There are a lot of older people in the building and they're afraid of them falling over the edge of the sidewalk. The retaining wall would be a length of about 60' and no more than 3' in height at it's tallest. Accessability is not a problem since it's in the front of the building and our truck(s) could be parked close by.

    We've been in maintenance for 10 yrs but until now have limited our landscaping to small garden bed installs. What I'd like to know is what some of you might charge per face-foot for this type retaining wall. The finished product would act as a raised planter bed for annuals/perennials to enhance the appearance of the front of the building while also eliminating the safety risk of the drop-off that currently exists.

    Thanks for your input.

  2. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Man, I hate timbers, can't you go with wall block? Longer lasting, permant wall with no maintance. Can't say that about timbers.
    OK I vented..........
    Without seeing the layout I would guess $45.00 per timber, including dead men, figureing 6x6 timbers, for 6X8's go $50
  3. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073


    When building timber walls the one thing I've learned is that you need to almost over-engineer them.....or what I mean is you need a lot of 'dead men' in them to.

    What I don't like about this job is that you basically have to build a 'free standing' wall 3 feet tall, and unless you escavate the walk out, you will not be able to have any 'dead men' in the wall because it is being built right along side it.

    I have seen way to many timber walls fall over in a matter of 1 or 2 years after construction because they did not have the proper support.

    There may be a way to engineer it, but I would suggest going with a concrete block retaining wall in a situation like this. Under 4 feet, you do not need geo-grid (per-say) and I think it would be a much stronger, durable lasting wall.

    As for price, I haven't built one for years because I trust the block more than the timbers, so I can't even remember where to start pricing now a days.


    [Edited by steveair on 05-07-2001 at 09:51 PM]
  4. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    I've seen enough rotted-out timber retaining walls to agree with you Paul, but this building's only 3 years old and the lanscapers that did the original work have already used timber throughout the site. The sidewalk area in question runs the entire width of the front of the building. The drop-off area is to the east of the front entrance, to the west there is already a timber retaining wall running parallel to the walk. Why they didn't do the same to the east is beyond me. Alternatively, they could have at least continued the same iron railing that runs along the western half. That alone would stop seniors from falling over the lip of the walk. But, they don't want that. They want a retaining wall/raised planter bed. So that's what I've got to price out.
  5. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    Oh yeah, and the wall would be a couple of feet away from the sidewalk so we can place deadmen as we go. Short deadmen, but deadmen nonetheless.
  6. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    as my good friend walter would say: "wood is a temporary solution for a long term problem." go with some form of stone wall, weather it be unilock, field stone, or some other form of rock do that. it will last much longer.
  7. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    Since the cost of timbers will vary due to location and currency, it is difficult to give you an exact price. As a guideline, since you are doing deadmen, figure about 3x the timber cost as a finished price. Remember to do a good job with the drainage behind the wall also.
  8. SpringValley

    SpringValley LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    From what I can tell, you are going to stack timbers on top of each other and try to tie them together. I built a 30' long, 4' high timber wall more than four years ago that still looks great. I put 5" x 5" posts on 42" centers and nailed 2 x 6's to the back of the posts. Then I nailed tarpaper and leftover shingles to the back to prevent moisture from getting to the wall. I placed a drainage tile behind the wall and backfilled it with septic rock. The posts are 3' deep in the ground and the wall still looks great today. The top cap board needs sealed again but the face of the wall still looks like new. IMO this is the only way to build a wood wall.

  9. cutntrim

    cutntrim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 474

    Matt: I certainly hope your wall looks good-as-new since it's only 4 years old. Thank you for your opinion on the ONLY way to build a wood wall.
  10. site

    site LawnSite Member
    Messages: 168

    I aviod timber walls whenever possible, but get roped int building one about every year or so.. I use the cheapest timbers I can find. Usually about $12 for a 6"x6"x8'. I charge about $30 per timber to put them in. I include dead men in this price. This price is very general though. Any number of conditons can add to the time to build and throw off the cost.
    I have ripped down far more timber walls than I will ever build. Usually they are very poorly built. even the most expensive timbers seem to be falling apart in 10 year old walls (hence the cheapest timber comment). If you can make good money at it go ahead. Hopefully for your sake you wont get a reputation as a good timber wall guy.

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