How to use landscape timbers on sloped ground

Landscape timbers provide the stability you need when landscaping sloped ground and a natural look that complements the area. This durable, rot-resistant wood blends well with ground cover, large rocks, stepping stones and mulch. On a slope, you can build tiered retaining walls or steps to prevent erosion, stabilise the ground and accent other landscaping in your yard.

Create a plan for landscaping the sloped ground. The size of the slope will help you determine how much landscaping the area needs.

Consider adding timber steps to a large slope to make it easier to maintain any plants there. If the slope is steep, you may want to build tiered retaining walls for stability and to create flower beds of varying heights. Note that large rocks, shrubs and trees should go near the bottom of the slope.

Measure the slope to determine how many steps and tiered walls you need to build.

Use a circular saw to cut 6-by-6 timbers to the length and width of your steps. Arrange the cut timbers to form a "U", and nail the lengths of wood to each other.

Attach angle braces to the interior front corners, securing the braces with screws to complete the first step.

Build enough steps to extend the height of the slope.

Dig into the bottom of the slope to place the first step. When complete, the first step will be level with the ground or slightly higher. Place the second step on top of the first step so that the front of the second step aligns with the back of the first step.

Connect the steps with 10-inch nail spikes. Hammer the spikes in where the steps overlap. Pack soil or gravel into the timber frames to stabilise the steps and complete the look.

Work your way up the slope, aligning the front of the step with the back of the step beneath it. Dig into the slope when necessary. Use a level to check that the steps are even.

Remove grass, rocks and weeds from the area in which you plan to build a retaining wall.

Place 6-by-6 landscape timbers end to end at the bottom of the slope to the desired length of your tiers. Stack the timbers on top of each other to the desire height of your first retaining wall.

Drill holes through the timbers. Insert lengths of rebar through the holes and into the ground to secure the wall.

Cut timbers to the build the sides of your retaining wall. Stack the timbers between the front wall and the slope. Fill the retaining wall with top soil until the top is level with the base of the next retaining wall.

Dig an "L" shape out of the slope for the additional retaining walls. Repeat the steps to build the front and side wall for each additional level. Plant hardy flowers or shrubs at each level and cover with a layer of mulch or gravel to retain moisture in the plant bed.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • 6-by-6 timbers
  • Angle braces
  • Screws
  • Shovel
  • Top soil or gravel
  • 10-inch nail spikes
  • Rebar
  • Plants
  • Mulch
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Aurora LaJambre is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. For over five years she's covered topics in culture, lifestyle, travel, DIY design and green living for print and online media. Her publication credits include "WOW Women on Writing," "Six States" and She graduated from New York University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing.