I've got a retaining wall made from 6"x6" timber that is falling in. It would appear that when it was built there was no backfill and now the wood is rotting. Unfortunately, it's supporting part of my deck, and the part that's falling in is pretty close to a deck post.

I was thinking about digging out sections of the garden supported by the wall and doing a more gradual tiered approach instead, probably with stone or blocks.

Is this a bad idea? Can the wall be compromised by removing dirt from adjacent parts? Is there a better approach? Is it a huge project? Am I insane?

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1 Answer 1


Not sure that the cause here is "no backfill" as it looks full in back of the wall. Also, although it is difficult to tell for sure from pictures, the wood does not look rotten.

It seems as though you have 2 problems:

  • the wall timbers were not adequately tied together vertically and are now moving horizontally independently.
  • the wall was not adequately secured with some type of 'tie-back" scheme.

Both issues could be resolved, but whether it is a "huge job" depends on perspective. A professional contractor could likely force the timbers back in place (using mechanical or hydraulic jacks or other means) and auger through them from the top down, hammering in rebar to tie them together.

Also, one could trench up-slope and install tie-backs or use one of the several available "retro-fit" tie back gadgets.

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  • I can't really tell on my phone but agree with @Jimmy fix-it. With multiple tier you may need to dig down and pour a piling or the support post may start leaning because there is nothing on that side.+
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 1, 2018 at 20:27
  • I like your suggestion with the anchors and definitely appreciate the visual. I suppose there isn't much visible rotting in the picture. I meant no gravel backfill. There are other areas around the house where sections of the same type of retaining wall had to be replaced and the wood was definitely rotting there, so I'm making the assumption it's also happening here. It seems like the anchors could help to address the situation for now, or maybe to mitigate any instability introduced by the tiered approach. Aug 4, 2018 at 1:21

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