What Are the Best Tips for Retaining Wall Repair?

Dan Cavallari

The first and most important tip for retaining wall repair is to carefully consider the different options for repairing the type of wall that has been built. The steps one must take to repair a stone wall may differ from the steps necessary to repair a wooden wall, so one should be sure to carefully consider all options before doing any repair work. If only a certain section requires wall repair, one should be sure the rest of the wall is adequately supported with stilts or other temporary props. This will prevent further damage and will help increase safety when working around the wall.

Retaining wall repair requires digging out the material that is being supported by the wall.
Retaining wall repair requires digging out the material that is being supported by the wall.

Retaining wall repair will require the builder to dig out the material that is being supported by the wall. This is done to prevent a slide if a certain section of the wall is removed. Dig enough of the backfill away that the wall is standing relatively independently in the area in which the builder is working. If the retaining wall repair is being done as a result of water damage, the builder should be sure to inspect what is causing the water damage. This may mean rerouting runoff channels, or it may mean backfilling the wall with a material that does not collect moisture, such as crushed stone. This prevents water from building near the wall and potentially causing frost heaves during cold weather.

If the wall is made from wood, retaining wall repair will more than likely involve replacing rotted lumber. When replacing the lumber with new pieces, be sure the new lumber is properly pressure treated to prevent or delay rot in the future. Be sure to drill drainage holes as well to allow moisture to escape from behind the wall, thereby preventing buckling, cracking, or collapsing in the future. Some professionals recommend building the wall at a slight slant toward the backfill to add more resistance to cave-ins and collapse. If this is possible, the builder can do so during the retaining wall repair.

Once the wall has been repaired and the backfill is replaced, the builder must be sure to tamp down the earth behind the wall thoroughly. If the soil is not compacted, it may shift later on, causing more problems. Wetting the ground with a hose will help the soil to settle, and it will also reveal potential trouble spots where water may be flowing improperly or pooling where it should not be.

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Discussion Comments


The kinds of repairs you do will depend a lot of the size, materials and purpose of the retaining wall. If it is just a decorative thing it will probably be pretty easy to do the repairs but if the retaining wall has an actual structural purpose it will probably be a little trickier.

Its good to have a long look at the retaining wall and how it is put together. Lots of people think that building a retaining wall is easy and they tackle the jobs themselves. You often end up with amateurish work that has more problems than it is revealing.


One of the most important tips for repairing a retaining wall is to know when a repair will do the job or when it would be better to just tear the wall down and start from scratch.

I have seen a lot of people start in on repair jobs only to find out that they can't fix what they need to or that their repair will not be as strong as the rest of the wall. More often than not the whole thing ends up coming down eventually.

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