I've got a pretty steep backyard hill that slopes down to a fence that I'd like to dig out and make into a sort of fire pit area with a patio.

I can't afford to do the entire project right away, but I wondered if I could start digging out the hill or if I'd need to get some sort of retaining structure up right away so I don't cause anything stupid to happen.

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    @Caveatrob Can you please post a photo or two of the area & describe in a little more detail exactly what you wish to achieve (final result)... Also please give details about the size of the slope, what type of soil makes up your garden, "average" weather conditions, how much you plan to dig out (ie What will be the final height of the retaining wall), etc. – Mike Perry Oct 31 '11 at 21:19
  • How high will the retained face be? More than 0.5m? – Lisa Oct 31 '11 at 23:34

It depends on the soil, weather/rain, ground water. If it's existing compacted ground, not torrential rains ahead, and we're not talking about a mountain, it can probably last a season without too much problem. That said, it wouldn't hurt to get some plywood and 2x4's to prop it up to be on the safe side.

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