Every year after I’ve harvested my plants, closed down my sheds, pulled in my water cans and turned off the water to the outside faucets, I get this itch. The itch gets to me the most right around December, and I start exploring my options for my next years vegetable garden. I find it’s a great time to get the paper and pencil out, sketch out my yard, any new features I want and start the process of narrowing down what greens I’m going to plant for the following year. However; each year I start with reinforcing or adding a new retaining wall for my garden.
Building a simple retaining wall to house a vegetable garden is not only fairly simple, but it creates a manicured look to your garden that will make your want to come over to just relax and enjoy with a glass of wine.
* 2 x 6 x 12 lumber (you can stain or not) or concrete if you want to make it more permanent.
* Nails or Screws
* L Brackets
* 2 x 4 cut into 4 ft sections with one end sharp to puncture into ground
* Electric Saw, Drill or hammer.
* Small spade Shovel
Plot Your Retaining Wall Garden:
Your first step is to plot out where your retaining wall will reside. Perhaps you have a hillside that is crying out for vegetables or maybe you want the wall up against your back patio. You can even create a circular wall in the middle of your yard.
Once you’ve decided where you want the wall, use string to lay out the path you want the wall to take. Make sure you’ll be able to reach the vegetables from all sides.
Next dig and level off the area Inside the laid string.
Now, if your creating walking paths within the area where you want to garden, then you’ll need to create sections of walls or “blocks” to be placed within starting by leveling the dirt in all spots you going to walk. Placing that soil in the block area (Your creating mounds). This can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the job, but it’s also one of the most important if you want your garden to be even and uniform all the way around.
If your wall is going to be more than a couple of feet high, you might need to add some drainage pipes. However, use common sense, water drains downhill, look at your landscape and envision where the water is going, what is it effects? Do you need draining pipes or can you add a mix of crushed rock, and loam to save water but be able to wick off the excess water? Why pay a water bill if mother nature will do it for free!
Add gravel and go over it with landscaping equipment like a tamper or the flat end of shovel (Give it a good whack). Check again to make sure the gravel is still level. Adjust as necessary.
Place First Beam:
Carefully pound the 2 x 4 sharpened beam into the grown or dig a 2-foot hole and place and bury the section of beam. Pound soil and rocks in around the beam while checking constantly that the beam is perfectly vertical. You will use these as anchors for the 2 x 6 x 12 foot sections. Place the first 12-foot section on top of the compacted gravel or soil and screw into the 2 x 4 vertical beam. Repeat every 3 feet. In the end you should have a 2 x 6 x 12 beam attached to 4 2 x 4 beams pounded into soil and screwed in at each spot.
Next place the second 2 x 6 x 12 ft beam on top of the first, there for creating a wall, and screw into place just like previous example.
Repeat for each side.
The L brackets are used to strengthen the corner section, place on the inside, 2 per beam (1 top -1 bottom) of each beam and screw into place, The screw should not go out the other end.
If your making paths then create the same boxes only slightly smaller by a foot on all sides and lift them up and over into the garden, which if done correctly should go right over your mound of dirt and become a garden bed within a garden bed.
Stand back and look at that the walls. Are there any low spots that need fixed? High spot that need dug out more? Make any adjustments, then stand back and look again. Repeat as many times as necessary to get a perfect first row. Each row should be level, both across the top and from front to back. For best approach with this is to use a level and to check it multiple times from all areas and angle and then walk away and to make a visual determination from a distance.
Fill the retaining wall with nutrient-rich potting soil and plant your vegetables. If you’ve planned your drainage correctly, the garden should hold enough water to keep your plants healthy but no so much that it threatens to wash away your retaining wall.
Plant vegetables two inches from the blocks as to provide room to sprout and grow. With just a little work, you’ll have a convenient garden that will produce an abundance of vegetables for many years to come.