We have a driveway with a poured concrete retaining wall that is backfilled up to about 5 feet high. The apex of the wall sisters up to the house foundation. There is a gutter that spans right over this backfilled area but is probably malfunctioning. The cumulative effect is that the wall has started separate from the foundation and bows and buckles, it's displaced about 1 or 2 inches.

If I dig out the soil behind the wall, will it be possible to push the wall back into place with a proper method?

enter image description here

My thought was to built a sort of brace by setting up two-bys on the opposing wall, then placing a piece of lumber between them cut to the ideal length, and slowly, progressively, if needed, hammering it down to apply continuous pressure, adding more as needed, until the wall arights itself. Unlike foundations, it's not supporting any weight above, and without the soil behind it, it seems like it could be "pushed into place.

The plan then would be to chisel out the crack, fill with S type mortar, and revise the gutter with a flexible pipe to drain all the way out to the sidewalk.

  • Won't it bulge again once you backfill it? Do you suppose it got pushed by frostheave?
    – Matthew
    May 20, 2020 at 2:32
  • 4
    that streetview car took a good photo :)
    – Jasen
    May 20, 2020 at 4:02
  • In the event you get it pushed back, won't you need to put some material (crushed rock?) under the front to keep it tilted back? For the amount of work involved, I would look into manufactured stone interlocking bricks to replace the wall. May 20, 2020 at 4:41
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    @SteveWellens Only excavating it could confirm whether it was filled with the right material or not. Not more than 2 feet behind the wall is a poured concrete stoop leading to the entry way of the house. If I went with brick, pitching it properly would be impossible. And at that height, I assume the bending and bowing would continue to be an issue.
    – AdamO
    May 20, 2020 at 5:37
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    If your are going to dig out behind the wall, I would suggest placing a perforated drainage pipe near the bottom sloped out to the sidewalk and backfill with stone.
    – JimmyJames
    May 20, 2020 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


Absolutely, but hammering won't work very well with that much mass. You can simply flex a stout board, like a 2x10, downward, then release it. The straightening action will push the wall. Leapfrog a couple of them so that one is always holding position.

A couple caveats:

  • Concrete is insanely heavy. Expect it to fall the wrong way and be safe.
  • Have a solid plan for securing it in place once you move it.
  • Never work alone.
  • 1
    I think a larger board will be needed, I would use the Tractor but if you have a truck after digging it out a push might do it, brush bars look cool but they will crumple with not much force don’t ask me how I learned that :( oops. +
    – Ed Beal
    May 19, 2020 at 22:49
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    Really??? Don’t forget that wall is connected to a footing that has to be pushed (rotated) through the soil too.
    – Lee Sam
    May 19, 2020 at 23:01
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    How would you flex a 2x10?+
    – JACK
    May 19, 2020 at 23:43
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    Yeah I am thinking 3x bottle jacks, 4x4 posts horizontally and 2x10 plates on both walls. Maybe some kind of scaffolding as table so the jacks/posts can't kick out of alignment. May 20, 2020 at 0:26
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    @AdamO more than one bottle jack to help spread the force to push evenly. You don't want to push at just the bottom which may leave the wall leaning out and allow it to fall. Likewise, you don't want to push at just the top, leaving the bottom in place. Spread the load vertically, give each jack a couple of pumps, then move to the next. Lather, rinse, repeat until the whole wall has been slowly, evenly, carefully moved back into place.
    – FreeMan
    May 20, 2020 at 14:50

If you have an opposing wall you might consider using a bottle jack, just spread the force with stout lumber and have some pieces cut to brace and hold. You might consider some "pinback" soil anchors if you are excavating:

enter image description here

  • 3
    I agree that without installing some sort of anchors the problem will come right back. May 20, 2020 at 15:03
  • Is there a DIY install option for these?
    – AdamO
    May 20, 2020 at 17:23

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