Replacing a Timber wall with Concrete Block

A common problem among existing retaining walls is that they are often built from timbers or railroad ties and have a shorter life then their concrete counterparts. As the wood begins to decompose the wall may begin to bow, crumble apart and wash out. The wall in this project was beginning to show signs of all of these with the additional problem of never being fully finished under the deck.

Wall project before

Previous home owners tried to dress up the area under the deck by enclosing it but this only invited humidity to speed up the rot process. We would also discover the posts of the deck either were not directly on footings or had rotted away.

This area of the yard was not a high priority for plantings and since access to backyard was also available on the other side of the house we elected to do the simplest wall – one wall L shaped with an 8′ height. In the future the deck could be remodeled to have a wood steps in front of the wall to once again provide access but was not necessary now.

Versa Lok Square Foot Block

The access to the backyard and final wall height for this project was a consideration for block type chosen. Our loader machine would have access to the backyard (face of the wall) only through the neighbors yard and the steep slope where the wall is provided additional challenges in getting product where we needed it.

Once all the under deck wood was removed we could start excavating our trench for the 8″ layer of compacted crushed gravel as our base. Next the base block layer was placed, leveled individually and centers filled with gravel.

Because of the height of the wall it was engineered to determine soil stabilization grid lengths and locations. We built up in layers compacting as we went to be sure settling would be absolutely minimal. Draintile was installed at the face ground level with outlets for excess water to drain. Drainage is also facilitated by the 12″ wide back fill of 3/4″ rock directly at the back of the wall. This block system incorporated pins as part of the installation process to tie the layers together and increases the strength of the wall.

Wall in Process

Want help with your wall project?

Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email

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Some of the following pictures are from the Rochester Concrete Products website and feature Rosetta Stone.

The natural look of beautiful stone walls, columns, accents and patios appeals to a lot of us. There is something about a carefully designed landscape that looks like a scene we might happen upon in the mountains or a walk in the woods. The wild grace of an undisturbed native environment, especially one that has a time weathered stone, invokes something beautiful in our minds. While a careful plan from a Creator has formed these natural environments with no effort,  we humans try to replicate them in our little domains through much effort to make it look unplanned and natural.


 There is a myriad of products available fashioned from available stones and cut into all shapes and sizes. We can make walls, patios, walkways, columns and more. But along with the natural look comes the ‘natural’ shape, thickness and all the variabilities. Time consuming labor hours  with the price tag of stone cost and delivery quickly drive up the project budget. Experience and a craftsman eye are key to a successful and beautiful end product.


The landscape industry is consistently expanding and working on new technologies to improve aesthetics, functionality and installation ease. While many products that try to replicate natural stone look fake and patterned there are some available that strive and meet the desired effect.  One of the most notable manufactures is Rosetta Stone. They have carefully selected stone to build their forms and patterns around then use high quality concrete with a through color mix to replicate our favorite looks. They have a great firepit kit that beautifully replicates the random cut stone look. Also available are column kits, wall stone and outcropping stone looks.


Samsung Techwin

Popular choices for ground surface include stamped concrete that can be formed, patterned and textured to replicate natural stone in color and feel. As with plain concrete, stamped concrete is subject to cracking in freeze thaw cycles. Other products include concrete pavers in cut or random sizes and may have a tumbled process to give a weathered look. These types of products are more consistent in top surface being level which provides an advantage to the inconsistent nature of flagstone especially with the use of furniture.


Our expert team is available to help out with planning for the right look, installation instructions and tips or complete a project for your own outdoor space. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation 507-581-6886 or email

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