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Looking for advice on steel retaining wall

October 16, 2018

I'd like to install a 16" steel retaining wall at the bottom of my driveway. The driveway is sloped, so the retaining wall would curve around at the bottom of the driveway and taper down to about 8" as it comes up the driveway.

I think I have found someone to do the steel construction; however, I can't seem to find any information on how to secure properly secure the steel to the hill. Also, for such a short wall, do I need to create a footer or just something to weld/attach the wall to?

Does anyone have any experience and/or advice?

Thanks in advance!

Comments (22)

  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C

    The company/person doing steel construction should know how to secure that wall.

    That said some L brackets should be welded on at the bottom of the wall and fastened to concrete piers or concrete footing... or cheaper way to weld come L shaped metal brackets with a pre-drilled hole at the bottom of it and drive metal pins through it into the ground (same way they install edging just use longer and wider in diameter pins)... there plenty of other ways this can be done.

    Do you have a picture of the metal wall?

  • PRO

    I know such avante garde things are being done and ending up in magazines, but one should consider practicality. Steel that's going to hold up to the forces of rust for a period of time is going to be very thick and expensive. There's got to be reasons why steel as a retaining wall material hasn't gone mainstream in light of its being around for ages.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    Corten steel retaining walls are done often in the UK I think this is what you are thinking I hope IMO the only steel worth using. I think they use a concrete footing sort of like this

  • andreadambrosia

    Thanks for the comments! Here are a couple of examples of the retaining wall style that I am looking for. Since it is going to be 12-16" I don't think it is going to need a footer, depending on how I secure it to the ground. There is a company in the UK called EverEdge that makes this type of product but from my research it looks like only the 5" landscaping edge is sold in the US. They do sell an 11-12" version for commercial applications, so I've emailed them to ask about installation guidelines - nothing really on their website for the taller version.

    Corten does seem to be ideal, but I've also seen applications of cold rolled mild-steel that seem to work. I have a metal work designer that is coming by on Monday to look at the project - he hasn't done something like this before so he and I both agreed that we would have to put our heads together on how to properly secure it, which is why I was reaching out to this forum for advice.

    If ANYONE has experience with INSTALLING this type/height of steel retaining wall, I would appreciate some advice. I've done hours of research online and there is very very little information. At this point, I've posted here and have started to make phone calls across the country and into Canada.


  • PRO

    Not saying they are not done, just that they will be expensive if quality and good quality would be the ONLY way to go.

  • andreadambrosia

    Yardvaark - from my research - it's really hard to say and depends a great deal on where one lives.. I live in the Washington DC area and from what I can tell this type of retaining wall is not common at all, which is why I'm having a problem finding more information. EverEdge in the UK looks to have cornered the market on steel landscaping edge and it looks to be quite common there. This is a very small retaining wall at the end of a narrow strip between two driveways. I've already had stone retaining walls spec'd out from $3500 - 10,000, so you can see there is quite a wide range for the exact same wall.

  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C

    They sell EverEdge steel edging products in HD and other landscaping places, Steel edging been widely used in landscaping for a long time.

    But I never seen a metal retaining wall or saw being sold anywhere.

    I looked at the EverEdge UK website to see what the retaining wall is like and as I said before, they have metal C-brackets welded on so a metal pin can be inserted and driven into the ground to support the wall..

    Good luck

  • pls8xx

    I wonder why you chose steel? Is it because you think you can install it yourself?

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie

    We put steel edging around our last house. Our kids and I think even our dog got hurt on it. Not sure if the retaining wall will have the same exposed edge, but I swore I'd never use it again. If you google, it's actually quite dangerous. Enough that there's a product available to cover the exposed edge to prevent injuries. If folks will be stepping out of their car near the wall, or walking past it, I'd reconsider.

  • andreadambrosia

    pls8xx - A couple of reasons - I like the look of the steel when it gets a patina. The steel only needs to be 1/4 thick whereas a drystack stone wall would have to be 12" thick, which gives me a lot more area for planting. I don't expect to install it myself as it will need to be a custom piece to fit the area we have for it.

    benjesbridge - I have thought of that. Thanks for sharing your experience. There is a small portion that will be along the bottom of our driveway. The main hazard is backing down the driveway but I've already decided to have it inset from the edge of the concrete driveway at least 1 ft - maybe more. Since I am having it custom made, I can have the top edge rounded so that it isn't sharp. Obviously, when you buy off the shelf steel edging, you don't have the option.

  • andreadambrosia

    I appreciate all the comments folks, but I really do know what I want here and am only looking for advice regarding installation. If you have some advice about that, I would appreciate it.


  • Jim Mat

    I recently saw a retaining wall made from highway guard rail

  • goldilocks1319
    I also live in the DC area and am curious re: the results of your project and the cost (if you don’t mind sharing). We need to get a retaining wall built in our backyard and I don’t like the look of the block systems landscapers have proposed. I’m exploring the idea of a metal retaining wall and would love to see a picture of yours and any contractor recommendations.
  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    I did a search for corten (an alloy of steel used in landscape applications for its high strength and the exterior patina of rust that protects the interior from corrosion) in the photos here on Houzz.


    There are a fair number of landscape beds with steel on all sides, making them self-supporting, but I found one application that has one steel side, and the builder in answer to a question described the install.

    Phillips Garden

    “The steel is 3/16" thick and is mounted on square steel tubing set in concrete footings.”


    I stopped after finding one, but I imagine that if you looked as I did and clicked on specific photos so you can scroll down the righthand side to read questions and answers you may find more.

  • mmaricco

    goldilocks1319 and andreadambrosia: I too live in the DC area and am considering a corten retaining wall. There is a real dearth of information, it seems. I would really appreciate contractor recommendations, advice, and/or photos of your completed project(s). Cheers.

  • PRO
    Revolutionary Gardens

    @mmaricco shoot me an email or message me through houzz. I have a friend in DC who does metal fabrication, and I also have a subcontractor here in VA who does metalwork as well. If you give me some info on your project I can share my thoughts with them and see what they think. I don't typically cross the Potomac Ocean, so this would just be a referral.

  • andreadambrosia

    goldilocks1319 - sorry for the late reply. I didn't see your comment until the last two comments.

    I talked to a local steel supplier and they said they would take a look at a design and give me a price if I came up with a template. I also had a steel designer from Annapolis come over and take a look at the project. He had a friend who had done quite a bit of Corten retaining wall work in Colorado but the price was going to be 3-4 times what it would cost for me to do a dry stack retaining wall. That's a complete non-starter for me.

    I agree with mmaricco - there is a dearth of information - although if you look at suppliers in the UK where Corten is popular, then you can find quite a bit of information.

  • andreadambrosia

    Revolutionary Gardens - what is your experience with price compared to drystack or a block retaining wall? Can the corten retaining wall be done for a reasonable price? I still haven't done anything but hope to in the fall when I've gotten a number of other projects completed.

  • andreadambrosia

    Kathy -

    Yep...saw that article. There is plenty of information on how to use Corten in an interesting way but very little information on how to design or install.

  • Kathy

    Yes, you are right. I did notice that too. Good luck with your venture and keep us updated so maybe we can learn something. You may have a start of a new product.

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