Retainer Wall - Help Required

19 Oct 2005
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

I am going to embark on my first bricklaying project, two small retainer walls in my back garden.

I have a small rectangular bi-sected garden (terrace house) with a slight fall towards the house. The garden has a wall along one side and back end with a fence the other side and a few decorative bricks to stop the soil going onto the path at the front (house) end.

I am going to patio the whole area and as there is a fall towards the house I am going to overcome this by laying topsoil down to take the fall away from the house and back to the end wall.

To hold the soil at the house end I am going to build two retainer walls with steps in the middle which will lead up to the patio.

My questions are:

1) Do I need to tie the retainer wall in with the 100 year old side wall or can it just be built up against it?

2) If I get the topsoil down and create the fall away from the house and to the back wall what type of drainage should I put at the end wall. Would leaving a small section running along the back of the end wall with gravel suffice for drainage?

3) Regarding question 2, can I keep the fall towards the house and put drainage into the retainer walls. If I did this would I need to leave soil/gravel behind the retainer wall in between the wall and the path so the water doesn't just go strainght onto the path and then the house?

4) Which of 2 or 3 is the best option

Many thanks for your time in this and your help expertise/options would be very much appreciated.

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Hi OllyH,

I've just completed what sounds like a similar project, and the folks on this site have been very helpful. Here are links to my threads:









So, regarding your specific questions: How small is small? I personally would tie it into the older wall - it can't do it any harm. As for drainage, this diagram might help:

Also look up "French drain".

These links are good also: and

Hope that helps.
Hi knownothing,

Thnaks for your advice etc.

What I am doing is the same as yourself in shape etc but not size. My wall will be retaining around 400mm of soil.

I am going to have piers at either end and steps up in the middle.

As I have never done anything like this before I wonder if you could explain the steps in the pictures in your thread. On the pic without the steps built it looks like there is just a gap, no footings etc. Do you need these for steps?

Did you just build up the steps with breeze blocks and then surround with bricks and then slabs on top?

If you could le tme know that would be great.

I am going to begin on footings next weekend, fingers crossed!

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My footings were like this:


I did not dig a big square as I knew my steps would be quite high and I was tired of digging. So I threw a big lump of concrete in like this:


I built my steps like this:


The steps do have a slight fall on them to shed rainwater.

However, as your wall and steps are going to be smaller, I would dig the footings like this:


Then you've got a blank palette to build on. For your project I would not put down "step footings" like I did.

I think that should answer your questions, if not, post again. HOWEVER, I disclaim that I'm not a professional!

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