This method can be used for walls, for holding back dirt in an underground construction or retaining wall, even for benches and shelves.
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Step 1: Foundation
Step 2: Posts
We have used metal pipes as posts as well as Juniper limbs. The advantage with the metal is that you can hammer them into the ground quickly. Tree limbs are much cheaper (in our case free), but you have to dig a hole for them. With short retaining walls that are only a couple of feet tall, you can use rebar - cheap and easy to pound into the ground.
Step 3: Bond Beam
The rafters of your roof will be attached to this bond beam.
- Place the hail screen inside the posts, with the extra couple of feet hanging down on the outside of the wall.
- Do the same with a vinyl tarp.
- With steel wire or other strong metal, tie the posts of one side of the wall to its counterpart in the other side of the wall, just below the bond beam. You can make the top of the wall thinner than the base if you wish.
- At the ends of the wall, fold the fabric in on itself, like the end of a package. Using wire, tie the end posts together along several points down the post. Allow for a bulge on the end of the wall so that the posts don't get pushed outwards. This will be sufficient to close the bag on the ends.
Step 5: Fill
Make sure you tamp the dirt firmly every so often, so that it is well compacted.
Once you reach the top of the posts and have compacted that final layer, fold the excess of both fabrics over each other and tie them securely together.
Step 6: Stucco
On the inside, you can use any plaster, as it does not need to be waterproof. We use a gypsum plaster. This is cheap and easy. Just add water to the powder and apply with a trowel. You can then paint it.
On the outside, a concrete stucco is better. You want to use acrylic in your mix, as that will adhere far easier to the hail screen.
Step 7: Buttresses
If you want to avoid the need for buttresses, you can make your wall curvy, which is much stronger than a straight wall. You can also make the wall shorter. To do this, you should build into a hill. Start off with a short wall on the ground, a few feet tall, and back fill with dirt. Then you start another wall a couple of feet back, and up the hill a little. This will give you a natural shelf inside the house.