Wall 24 inches in height. Want to minimize gap between fence and wall

Contractor wants to nail 2x12s against the fence to create the small retaining wall. I don't like that because of the load on the fence, what todo when the fence has to be replaced or post, rotting problems. It does minimize the footprint of the "wall" though.

I was thinking small gabion cages, which would end up mostly buried. Most that I have found are 12+ inches wide.

Probably best is to replace fence bottom with retaining wall but don't want to spend the extra money.

Are there any other better solutions? Or anything to keep in mind?

Pacific Northwest area Fence has been standing for about 6 years as is.

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  • Why do you want to minimize the space between the wall and the fence? The soil seems humid, so a large reduction of the space will cause rot of fence (but you can apply tar to the fence, to protect it on your side). Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 14:42
  • It's a small space. Minimizing the space between the fence and the retaining wall will maximize the useable space. But if you have a better suggestion I am open
    – dre
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 21:20
  • I don't have a good idea of where you want the wall to go Can you do a top down diagram with Paint or something like that?
    – kevinskio
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 0:10
  • Adjacent to the fence. Uploaded a picture; just did it quick on the phone tried to highlight the placement. Trying to level the slope in the yard.
    – dre
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 2:05

2 Answers 2


I agree with Roxy this would be the optimal way. However, I see several problems with that approach - 1) it's relatively difficult to build a decent wall without removing the fence boards. You just don't have a lot of space to work in. 2) I'd want to check with the neighbors as this will likely not only affect the plantings on their side, but also the way the wall looks. As they say - great fences make great neighbors.

What I would do is to dig a trench about 4" below the bottom rail. If possible, try to keep the soil under the fence no more than an 1" below the fence line. Use 1/4" minus gravel (sometimes called paver base) to fill the bottom 2" of the trench (make sure to compact it well), then build a interlocking wall about an 1" from the fence. Use Roxy's idea of a ground contact 2x to cover the crack (these are the boards with the little slits in them). A 2x6 is great, but a 2x4 would work just as well. I would recommend treating the cut end of the 2x with the appropriate wood preservative to help prolong the life of the board.

For the wall, I like to use Roman Stack stone because the units are relatively small / lightweight, and the wall can go upto 2' in height. Home Depot carries the grey version in most of their stores (at least in the Metro Seattle area). Mutual Material carries a larger color pallet and actually manufactures the block.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that both soil and concrete/brick walls that contact the wood greatly increase the rate of rot, especially in the Northwest will all our damp weather.


I would cut off the bottom of the wood fence and build a masonry/stone/block retaining wall under it (just inside the plane of the fence). I would use whatever is the cheapest product that I could find. I would leave at least a one inch gap between the top of the wall and the fence and fill in the gap by screwing a ground-contact rated 2x6 to the bottom of the fence so that it rested on the top of the wall. This will keep the rest of the fence drier so it will last longer. When part of the fence needs replacing, you will be buying shorter boards. Maybe do it a section at a time as budget allows.

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