Replacing a Retaining Wall for an Attached Garage | Ep. 167

A retaining wall next to a home where an attached garage will be built
Can this retaining wall be repurposed for an attached garage wall? The short answer is no. (Photo by Johanna Carr)

Johanna Carr from Maryland wants to add an attached garage to her home. A stacked stone-block retaining wall runs along the side of her house, and she’s wondering if she can build a new wall up against it.

Retaining walls are not designed to be structural in that way. A local engineer or building inspector would not allow it.

From what we can see, the retaining wall is built into the house, so there’s likely moisture leaking in. This also is a problem you’ll want to fix. 

You’ll need to remove this retaining wall and build a conventional wall with poured concrete or cinder blocks. Be sure to have a substantial foundation, and use vertical rebar to add extra support.

A retaining wall next to a home where an attached garage will be built
Because the retaining wall extends into the home’s interior, it needs to be replaced to prevent moisture issues. (Photo by Johanna Carr)

If you’re worried about the soil collapsing once the wall is out, don’t. The grassroots should hold it in place. 

Another thing you’ll need to do is waterproof the backside of the wall. You don’t want a garage that has moisture seeping in. 

Waterproofing only the inside wall will not be sufficient. Even though it’s not a living space, it’s still important to keep the moisture out. 

You’ll need to dig out at least a foot of dirt to install the membrane. Once it’s there, you can backfill the dirt.

After the attached garage wall is built, use a traditional French drain and soft pipe to route the water onto the driveway and away from the new attached garage.

This is a somewhat routine job for concrete foundation repair specialists. Consult with one to make sure the wall is done right. 

Skip to [9:18] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.

Also on this episode:

  • Organizing a Garage
  • Painting Tile and Grout
  • Repairing a Crack in a Driveway
  • Venting a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
  • Smoothing a Concrete Curb

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Simple Solutions

Fertilizing Hard-to-Reach Plants — Fertilizing thick shrubs, bushes or other dense plants can be difficult because you can’t easily reach the base of the plant. Here’s how to simplify that chore.

  • Take a length of 2-inch diameter PVC pipe and cut it to 5 feet long.
  • Trim one end to 45 degrees, and square-cut the other end.
  • Now, stand close to the plant and slide the square-cut end down to the base of the plant.
  • Pour the fertilizer down the pipe through the 45-degree end; the angle-cut end creates a larger, easy-pour opening.
  • The pipe can also be used to water thick, dense plants. 

4 Flowerbox Tips — Here are four ways to keep plants in your flowerbox or window box healthy and happy.

  1. First, be sure to drill 3/8-inch diameter drainage holes in the box bottom so the soil doesn’t stay soggy. Space the holes about eight inches apart.
  2. To stop the soil from washing through the drainage holes, cover the box bottom with an inch of gravel. Or, if you’re concerned about the added weight of the gravel, line the bottom with empty 12-ounce water bottles instead.
  3. Plant a variety of flowering species of different colors. Put flowing vines in front, short plants in the middle and tall plants toward the rear to create an attractive tiered presentation.
  4. At the end of the season, remove the boxes, empty out the soil and store the boxes indoors until next spring.

Question of the Week

Q: I want to put pavers on top of my existing concrete patio, but our patio is only 8-by-10 feet. Is it best to pour another concrete slab beside the existing patio, and then lay pavers across both the old and new concrete sections?

A: You don’t have to pour a new concrete slab to get the pavers even. Remove vegetation and put down two to three inches of paver base. Lay the paver base flush with the concrete slab, and compress it with a tamp.

Add more paver base if needed to make sure it’s level with the adjacent slab. Then, lay down the pavers, and fill the spaces between them with sand. 

For the pavers on the concrete slab, you can glue them down. 

It will be tricky to get them exactly even, but if you take your time it will work out. If you can’t get them even with the concrete slab pavers, this will cause a tripping hazard. 

To avoid this, create an absolute change in elevation, where one part is clearly a step up or down.

Skip to [34:57] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.


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