Retaining wall renovation: what to do with an old retaining wall in your new backyard

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Picture of Natasha Maerz

Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager

When shopping around for a new home there are many things to consider. If being outdoors is important to you, then the front and backyard of homes are going to be something that you are interested in looking at.

But what happens if you find a house that you love that has an old, decrepitating retaining wall? If the retaining wall takes up a good chunk of the backyard you might be hesitant to buy the house because of the looming backyard renovation in your future.

If this is your first time here, let us introduce ourselves. We are Back 40 Landscaping and we specialize in building retaining walls. All of our crew is trained and certified in Allan Block retaining wall installations.

 

Allan-Block-Tiered-retaining-wall

If you buy a house with an old retaining wall, what can you as the new homeowner do?

There are lots of different options when it comes to what you can do with an old retaining wall that is need of repair.

 

Should I renovate an old retaining wall?

Sometimes homeowners think that their best option to fix something is to do just that, fix it.

The problem with renovating or fixing an old retaining wall is that there is a reason why the wall failed in the first place.

What do we mean by that? A wood wall SHOULD always be replaced instead of being rebuilt. Wood (even pressure treated wood) failed due to being out in the elements.

If you reuse that wood you will be back in the same boat the previous owners were in.

If an Allan Block retaining wall has failed, it is due to the way the wall was built, not because of the product. Allan Blocks are a lifelong product and are built to withstand harsh weather.

An Allan Block wall that is failing has failed due to many things such as what was used to backfill the retaining wall, and the skill of the contractor.

trees-damage-concrete-retaining-wall

When it comes to renovating an Allan Block wall instead of replacing it you need to look at how high the wall is and if it can be renovated.

You could probably get away with renovating a  garden wall that is 1 ft high because the blocks should still be in decent shape. Most of the time though, you want to just start fresh.

The reason it makes more sense to start new is that your current wall will need to be taken down so that the contractor can dig a trench and put gravel in it, and they will need to base your wall again.

It will usually take more labor for the contractor to slowly take your wall down and try to reuse the pieces than it would to get nice new Allan Block and start fresh.

If you want your retaining wall done properly, it just makes sense to rebuilt instead of renovate an existing wall.

 

How much does it cost to replace a retaining wall?

The Average Price for A Small Retaining Wall That Is 80 Ft Long And 4 Ft High Starts At $50k

The Average Price for An Average Retaining Wall That Is 25 Ft Long And 4 Ft High Starts At $20k

The Average Price For A Large Retaining Wall That Is 100 Ft Long, 4 Ft High And Terraced With A Staircase Starts At $80k

 

allan-block-retaining-wall-half-high-stepdown

Keep in mind that these prices are ballpark prices, as access to the space, add ons, whether your wall will need permits and engineering, and what type of retaining wall you would like all affect how much the wall is going to cost.

As a new homeowner it is in your best interest to replace a retaining wall that is failing so that you can protect your new backyard and its surroundings. The last thing you want is for the wall to collapse and wreck your home!

Homeowners who are selling would also benefit from having a new wall built, as it can increase your homes value and give your home extra curb appeal.