How to Build a Retaining Wall: DIY vs Hiring a Pro

Retaining walls are popular accents to landscaping, essential tools for holding back ponds or walls of earth, and more.

If you are thinking about building a retaining wall on your property, you have big decision to make. Should you learn how to build a retaining wall on your own or call in professional help?

Keep reading to learn what you need to know to decide.

Deciding Whether to DIY Your Retaining Wall or Call in the Pros

DIY projects are a great way to save some money on renovations around your home. As long as you know what you’re doing and don’t take on projects that are too complicated for your abilities or too risky, doing your own projects can be empowering and fun.

But taking on jobs that are overly complicated or outside of your ability is a big mistake.

You’ll likely end up spending far more money and time than you first thought. And in the end, you may have to call in professional help anyway just to get the job done.

A retaining wall is the type of project that could go either way.

Depending on the size and type of wall you’re building and your own abilities, you might be okay to DIY your project. But retaining walls are often large and weight bearing. If you don’t have the tools and skills necessary to tackle a retaining wall, you might be left with a dangerous end result.

Before you break out your tool set or head to the hardware store, check out these important details to consider before you DIY your retaining wall project.

Tool and Supply Costs

Building a stone retaining wall may seem simple enough. If you’re using individual stones, you might think that all it takes it stacking up bricks.

But it’s much more complicated than that.

Dirt needs to be scooped and moved away to make space for the wall. If the retaining wall will be a part of a pond or other water feature, the water will need to be drained or held back while the wall is built. The ground where you plan to build your wall needs to be flattened and evened out.

Only after the area is prepared can you even begin to build. Then, you’ll need the stones to build your wall and mortar to hold them together. Unless you want your wall to have jagged, uneven edges, you’re also going to need tools to break or cut the stones to finish the job.

These tools aren’t found in your average home toolbox.

You could go out and buy or rent everything you would need to build your retaining wall. But when you factor in those retaining wall costs on top of the materials and the time it would take to build your wall, you might be surprised to find that it would be cheaper to leave the building to a professional.

Design Skills

Before you can start building your retaining wall, you need to start with a design.

A quick internet search will turn up countless retaining wall ideas. But each yard is unique. A design that worked well for one homeowner might not work well for you.

If you are going to DIY a retaining wall, you’ll need to learn how to design your wall first.

You’ll need to consider things like the weight of the earth that the wall will be holding so that you can choose the right type of material. If your wall will be holding a lot of weight, you may need to sink part of your wall in order to support it.

Even details like how many bricks or stones you’ll need are an important part of your design. Otherwise, you’ll end up needing to go back and forth to the hardware store dozens of times to complete your project.

If you choose to let someone else build your wall, you’ll get a custom, professional design. The result will be a wall that performs better and lasts longer than a DIY wall likely will.

Weight of Materials

Many home DIY projects are simple to tackle because they don’t require much heavy lifting.

Painting walls, planting landscaping, or even hanging new lighting is labor-intensive. But unlike building a retaining wall, these projects don’t require lifting dozens of heavy stones or bricks.

Carrying and placing the materials necessary to build a retaining wall is difficult, even someone who is physically fit.

When you consider the back and joint pain you might suffer from after finishing your retaining wall, you might rethink the cost of hiring a professional.

Strength and Longevity of Your Retaining Wall

Unless you’re building a retaining wall that’s solely for looks, you likely need a strong wall that will hold up to a lot of weight and stress for years to come.

If you’ve never built a retaining wall before, you may not have the skills and know-how that it takes to build a long-lasting wall. Without those skills, you’ll get a wall that will likely begin to crumble or fall within years or even months of being built.

Maybe you don’t need to wall to last. But if you do, you’ll either need to do your research to build a strong enough wall or get help.

If you choose to get help, make sure you’re choosing a company with experience, as well as the skills to design and build the right type of wall for your project.

Southern Drainage Systems LLC offers a variety of types of retaining walls to fit the demands of any project.

How to Build a Retaining Wall: Choosing Between DIY and Hiring a Pro

Now that you know the details you need to consider, it’s time to choose between DIYing your retaining wall or hiring a professional.

If you choose to learn how to build a retaining wall on your own, get ready for some hard work and stress. But if you have the right tools and some determination, you can complete your wall and save some cash.

Another option is to do some of the project on your own while leaving the rest to a professional.

If you think you might want to try this option, check out these tips for deciding whether to grout your wall on your own or leave it to the pros.