Easy, inexpensive redo for concrete retaining wall?

sowngrow(TX8)July 26, 2004

Anybody have a good idea on what I could do to make this concrete retaining wall look better, in terms of possibly staining it or perhaps a stucco finish? I need a solution that's not expensive and something I could do myself i.e. fairly simple. Thanks!

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windy_meadow(5 SW_PA)

I would plant some creeping phlox or something similar that will hang down over the wall and cover it up.
Don

    Bookmark   July 27, 2004 at 7:45AM
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Twinkle(7 GA)

You could put a stone facing on it. Thin stone could be mortared to the wall and steps, and it is easy enough to do yourself. Make sure the footing of the wall is wide enough to support the facing.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2004 at 8:40AM
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sowngrow(TX8)

Don-I'd been thinking about planting something that would hang over it. I didn't know about creeping phlox. Thanks for the suggestion.
Twinkle-Stone would look real nice. I wonder where I could find it. The footing is about 8", I'll have to measure it. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2004 at 9:02AM
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TXChickadee(Z8 Austin TX)

Sowngrow, I've got a raised bed with limestone edges and have some oregano and catmint trailing over the edge. Creeping rosemary would work too. Any of those would help soften the edge, and should be happy in the Texas heat. (And the rosemary is evergreen)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 10:33AM
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sowngrow(TX8)

Those are good ideas TXChickadee. Especially the creeping rosemary since it's evergreen.
I grow upright rosemary and love using it for cooking. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 11:47AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

i would plant in front of the wall - some shrubs along with some tall flowers and grasses... and plant hanging/draping plants above the wall... the two combinations would add some cover... vines or moss would be cool too...i think it would be cheaper to hide the wall with plants than to refinish it...i think the wall gives you a great dimension to work with...you are in texas so check out lady bird johnson wildflower center web site... great site for everyone but particularly for you texans...

Here is a link that might be useful: lady bird johnson wildflower center

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 6:06PM
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GardenChicken(AB3b)

Don't know how 'easy' you are looking for, or the look you are trying to achieve, but check out what they are doing over in the Hypertufa forum!

Here is a link that might be useful: concrete wall cover-up!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 9:08AM
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sowngrow(TX8)

Wow-that's a great job of hiding aa concrete retaining wall. I'm creative impaired, but maybe...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 9:13AM
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Fori is not pleased

I actually like the idea of stuccoing it, although it might be hard to keep it clean. I can't really tell what style the house is, so I'd hesitate to suggest anything too specific. The planting ideas would work nicely, and pull together a really good look for the front area--it looks like you're just getting started on landscaping. Do you have an overall plan yet?

Is there room for a bench or seating in the upper area by the front door? If you like the idea of spending time in the front yard relaxing, I'd be tempted to plant a hedge at the base of the wall that would be a foot higher than the wall so that the upper area could be a little "room". I'd make it the herb garden!

If you stain it...well, it's hard to get right and it's hard to fix if you don't. It's not a bad-looking wall. I think it'll be fine once it's dressed up with more plantings. It's a neat layout overall...too many possibilities...hard to concentrate on JUST the wall!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 10:55AM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

sowngrow: I know what I'd do if it were mine. I'd paint it
to look like a brick wall. In your case, you don't even have to paint the mortar part, that would be between real bricks--your cement wall is the color of mortar. So, just lay out the wall--marking brick sized rectangles, and leaving a half-inch (like mortar) between each, then paint in the brick-sized rectangles. Use brick-red latex paint, and a steel (or any other metal) yardstick for a guide, so you don't have a bunch of freehand work. Wipe the metal yardstick off with a wet cloth after each section is done, so it doesn't smear as you move on. It will look great in contrast with your cement steps and sidewalk--OR--if you like the looks of it, make the steps and sidewalk look like brick, also!! Then post the "after" picture here, alongside
the "before" picture you posted. I've always wanted to paint a cement wall to look like a brick wall, but I don't have one to paint. You do.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2004 at 10:47PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

P.S. Don't like red?? Bricks too small for you?? Draw 12"X16" blocks and paint them gray, like granite blocks, with an inch of "mortar" between them.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2004 at 10:57PM
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sowngrow(TX8)

marylandmojo-sounds like a great idea. Do you know of a paint that would be good to use? This wall obviously gets wet from behind so to speak, because this yard slopes down to the lake and there's quite a bit of humidity from the lake, most of the time. The only time I've ever painted cement, I ended up with it peeling shortly thereafter.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 10:16AM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

As I look at the wall, I'm wondering what your average annual rainfall is in your location. Possibly it holds rainwater from higher ground. I also don't see any weep holes in the wall so moisture/rainwater can escape Ordinarily, my idea is that cement readily accepts paint. Depending on the texture of the cement--and yours looks plenty weathered
and porous--it should accept it, except for the fact that id may be regularly, or periodically, damp. I'll have to think on that.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 8:43PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

sowngrow: Well, I've been thinking. Since we now have a TWOFOLD question--what to do with a wall, AND a wall on a slope that may retain water, let's deal with the water retention first. You seem to have a solid concrete wall, so I wouldn't be nearly as concerned about it accepting (and holding paint) as I would a block wall. There are plenty of good water-based paints (thin, and clean up with water) that adhere to concrete. You have only to call your paint store and have them point out WHICH paint they recommend--and if they're guaranteed not to peel. People have been painting concrete steps and porches for years--not only concrete, BUT, concrete that receives heavy foot traffic, and most of it wears extremely well. You don't even have to worry about the foot traffic--you have a wall. You can mention the part about the water retention, but I doubt whether that will be a factor. If they think it is, they'll probably try and sell you a water-sealant paint (like you would paint a leaky basement with), and you MAY not need it. You be the judge--taking into consideration that paint that holds back water is 2 or 3 times as expensive as regular latex paint. If you're still concerned after conferring with your paint store, buy some latex paint (listening to their recommendations, somewhat) and paint the TOP of the wall. Let it stand a year or so--through your rainy season, and through Winter, and see if you're satisfied with it. If so, continue the pattern on the face of the wall. I'd certainly give it a try, if it were me. I'd at least talk to someone knowledgable at a good paint store--not someone in the paint department at Wal-Mart.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 8:42PM
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