A river rock retaining wall is a beautiful and sturdy addition to your yard. This project will add value to your home and increase its curb appeal. A retaining wall can be built in any shape you like, depending on the size of your yard and what kind of look you want to achieve.
River rock is a great way to create a DIY retaining wall, and it’s easy. All you need are some rocks, some mortar, and a little bit of time. Here’s how to make your own river rock retaining wall:
1. First, find the area where you want your new retaining wall and mark it out with stakes and string. Make sure that the ground is level before proceeding further.
2. Next, dig out the area where you plan to build your retaining wall so that it is approximately three times as wide as the height of the wall itself (so if you want a ten-foot high wall, dig down at least 30 inches or so). The deeper you dig here, the longer your wall will be able to last without needing replacement materials like concrete or stone blocks; however, if you’re using river rocks for this project then they’ll be able to withstand weather conditions much better than other materials like cement or brick would be able to do.
3. After digging out an area that’s roughly three times wider than its height (plus an additional six inches for mortar), lay down some plastic sheeting over top of this area so that no
What is River Rock Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall is a wall that holds soil in place. They are often used to hold back earth that would otherwise flow out of the area, as seen in this example.
Retaining walls can also be decorative and serve no practical purpose. For example, a river rock retaining wall is a type of retaining wall made with large rocks (also known as “river rock”), which can be used to make an attractive garden feature or design feature around your home.
Uses of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
River rock retaining walls are constructed on a sloping area to prevent soil erosion, as well as to create a sense of privacy. Keeping the soil contained within the wall can also be used to create borders between properties.
Benefits of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
A DIY river rock retaining wall is a great way to add beauty and functionality to your landscape. They can be built easily, using materials that you can find at home or in your local hardware store.
A DIY river rock retaining wall is often easier and less expensive than hiring a contractor. You may also be able to do most of the work yourself if you have some experience with construction projects. By building the wall yourself, you can save money on labor costs while providing valuable skills for future home improvement projects.
River rock retaining walls are a great way to add value to your home because they last for many years with little maintenance required beyond the occasional cleaning of moss from their surface (which also makes them more attractive). In addition, river rocks absorb heat during summertime so they’re useful in helping shade plants beneath them a benefit especially important in climates where temperatures rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit regularly during summer months.
What size rock is best for a river rock retaining wall?
Like with building a treehouse, the size of the rock you choose will depend on the height and width of your wall. Larger rocks are used in taller walls and smaller ones can be used in shorter walls. The larger rocks are more expensive than the smaller ones and they are also heavier.
Does a river rock retaining wall need a base?
The answer is yes, you need a base for your retaining wall. The base of your wall will give it the structure it needs to stand up and stay sturdy. If you don’t have a proper base then your river rock retaining wall will not last as long or look as good as you want it to look.
Bases should be at least 6 inches deep and level with no dips in them that would cause water to pool at the bottom of your retaining wall. The base should also be wider than the width of your river rock retaining wall so that there’s enough space for water drainage around all sides of it. Finally, make sure that there’s enough room between the edges of your concrete footing (or backfill) and where those edges meet up with soil or mulch so that roots can grow down into healthy soil instead of just sitting on top without any chance at growing deeper into earthy goodness.
How deep should a river rock retaining wall be?
When you are selecting the depth of your retaining wall, it is important to consider the size of the stones you will be using. If you have large river rocks, then a 12-inch deep soil bed is a good idea. If you are using small stones, then 6 inches should be sufficient.
Advantages of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
A DIY river rock retaining wall is not just an attractive alternative to other materials, it’s also easier to install and cheaper than other types of retaining walls. In addition to these advantages, you can build your wall in any size or shape and in any climate.
Disadvantages of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
- It is expensive.
- It is time-consuming.
- You need a lot of space to build this type of retaining wall system.
- It can be messy, especially if you don’t have the right tools or know what you are doing, and it may chip your wall eventually if not finished properly.
- It requires a lot of tools that can be expensive if you don’t already own them, so keep that in mind when considering building this type of DIY retaining wall system.
Steps involved in Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
- Determine retaining wall length, design, and location
- Map out the location with a batter board and string.
- Check for level every 8 inches as you install the first course of blocks.
Step 1: Determine retaining wall length, design, and location.
The length of the wall depends on how much space you have to fill in your yard and if you want to include steps or plantings along the top. You can use a tape measure to get a rough idea of the size you need before buying any materials. The design of your retaining wall can also be modified depending on what style suits your landscape best. Finally, keep in mind where you want this structure to go so that it doesn’t interfere with any other structures on your property (such as trees).
Step 2: Map out the location with a batter board and string.
To make sure the string is level, use a level. If your ground isn’t level, use stakes to mark where you need to dig. You can also dig down on one side of your wall so that it will be higher than the other side.
If you don’t have a batter board and string yet, now is the time. A batter board is a piece of plywood or other sturdy material mounted vertically into the ground with stakes or nails. The string should be at least 50 ft long and relatively thin (think fishing line). Tie both ends of this long strand to each end of your batter board using knots so they can’t slip off later when you’re trying to measure out distances from one spot to another along your wall’s length.
Step 3: Check for level every 8 inches as you install the first course of blocks.
Before you set the first block, make sure that your base and stakes are levels. You can use a water level or other type of laser level to do this. If your base isn’t perfectly level, adjust it by moving the stakes down or up until it’s corrected. This is an important step so it’s worth checking every 8 inches as you install each row of blocks (or however far apart your blocks are spaced). If you don’t check for level each time, any problems with alignment will add up over time and cause serious problems with drainage in the future.
If you find that one side is off more than half an inch at any point along the length of the wall, then resetting all your stakes would be tedious and would take too long to make sense as a solution. In this case, resetting only involves pulling out some stakes at one end of a short section and placing them back into their original locations on either side of where they were originally placed when installing that section’s end capstones but leaving those end caps alone.
Step 4: Use leveling stakes to keep lines straight and level.
Now that you have the first line drawn, you need to make sure that all of the lines are straight and level. You can do this using a level, which will help ensure that the walls are plumb (perpendicular).
You’ll also want to use a batter board and string to map out your retaining wall location. As you install each course of blocks, stop every 8 inches or so and check for level again by placing your spirit level on top of one end block in each row. If it isn’t perfectly lined up with the rest of your wall, adjust by dropping more earth behind whichever side is lower than its neighbors.
Step 5: Backfill the first course with crushed gravel.
Backfill the first course with crushed gravel. The next step is to backfill the entire retaining wall with crushed gravel, soil or mulch. This will help stabilize your retaining wall and keep it from falling apart over time. Make sure to compact the backfill so that it creates an even base for your second layer of river rock. Use a tamper or hand tampers to press down on the crushed gravel until you have a flat surface before laying down additional layers of river rock along both sides of each course.
Step 6: Install a drainage pipe behind the blocks.
If the wall is being built on a slope, you may not need to install a drainage pipe. In this case, place the blocks with the bottom row facing up and proceed with building the rest of your retaining wall as usual.
If you are installing a drainage pipe in your retaining wall, make sure that it is buried at least one inch into the soil to prevent water from pooling behind them and causing erosion or frost heave damage.
The drainage pipe should be placed behind each block within 12 inches of where they meet together. This will allow rainwater to flow freely through it and out into surrounding soil instead of pooling behind blocks where it could cause problems like erosion or frost heaving later on down road when temperatures change abruptly during winter months (frost heaving occurs when frozen ground expands due to temperature changes).
Step 7: Add the rest of your blocks, backfilling each course as you go.
Now it’s time to backfill with your remaining river rock. Use a shovel to carefully place the river rock into each course and tamp it down with the end of your level.
For each course, check for the level at 8-inch intervals as you install the first block. If any of these checks reveal that your wall is out of level, adjust by moving some blocks over or adding more soil beneath those that are too high.
Step 8: If you have an oddly shaped area, cut pavers as needed to fit specific spots.
If you have an oddly shaped area, cut pavers as needed to fit specific spots. You can use a wet saw or a circular saw with a carbide-tipped blade to cut them. If you don’t have access to these tools, however, you may be able to do the job with a hammer and chisel (though this method is far more labor-intensive).
Step 9: Fill narrow gaps between pavers with loose stones or crushed gravel, topping off with soil or mulch if desired.
- Use a trowel to fill in any gaps between pavers with loose stones or crushed gravel, topping off with soil or mulch if desired.
- Fill in the remaining gaps between pavers with more crushed gravel, and top with soil and/or mulch if desired.
Materials needed for Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
Materials needed for Diy River Rock Retaining Wall:
- River rock. You will need enough to fill the space of your retaining wall. This can be achieved by using a trowel and mixing concrete with water, then adding sand until it becomes like wet sand (but stickier), then pouring the mixture into your river rocks. Make sure that you have enough concrete to fill any gaps between each stone. Let it dry for about 24 hours before placing your next layer or block of rocks on top of it if you’re using concrete blocks instead of river rock.
- Sand – The sand helps add strength to the structure as well as drainage pipes so water can flow through easily when rains come around here in Florida no flooding, please.
- Concrete Block – If you don’t want to purchase river rocks, just go ahead and buy these instead since they’re much cheaper than buying all those little pebbles which would make up both ways too expensive especially since my husband was paying most of our bills at this point in time when we were first starting out building our home together).
Tools needed for Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
You will need the following tools for this project:
- Hand tools for DIY river rock retaining wall
- Sledgehammer (for driving stakes)
- Stakes, at least 10-12″ tall (to anchor timbers, if desired)
- Power tool options for DIY river rock retaining wall
If you have a cordless drill/driver and battery, this is all you’ll need. If not, consider renting one from a local hardware store or borrowing one from a friend who has one that they’re not using. You may also want to rent an impact driver—it saves time removing and installing screws in tight spaces.
Cost of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
The cost of materials and labor will vary widely depending on the size of your project, but you can expect to pay roughly $125-$175 per linear foot to build one.
As mentioned above, the price of retaining walls varies greatly depending on factors such as:
- Size and shape of the wall (linear feet)
- Type of rock or stone used (cost per ton)
- The volume needed for your project (number of bags)
The material cost of the Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
The materials for the Diy River Rock Retaining Wall are:
- River rocks or stones
- Mortar mix (to hold the stones together)
- A wheelbarrow or bucket to transport materials from one place to another.
The tools needed for this project include:
- A shovel or pickaxe if you need to break up any large rocks that may be in your way. You can also use this tool if you want to make holes for planting flowers later down the road.
If you’re going through an especially tough patch and feel like giving up, remember that there are always other options available. The mortar will help keep everything together until you’re ready to move on with your life again. The wheelbarrow gives you a convenient way of moving everything around without having them get dirty while they’re being transported from place A
The labor cost of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
If you are going to build a retaining wall, your labor and time will be the two main factors to consider. But how much does it cost? Here’s a general overview of how much time and money you’ll spend on constructing your own DIY river rock retaining wall.
- Labor: If you’re building a standard 4-foot tall retaining wall (3 feet high plus 1 foot for gravel), with 2/3rds river rock and 1/3rd earth, then your labor costs will range from about $1-$4 per square foot (or $50-$200 for 100 square feet).
- Time: It should take 3-5 hours to build one linear foot of the dry stacked concrete block, while an equivalent amount of stacked stone would take 10-15 hours.
Benefits of Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
River rock retaining walls are some of the most common types of retaining walls. River rock retaining walls are durable, long-lasting, and easy to build. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit any need or taste.
River rock retaining walls are often used along with plants in order to beautify the landscape while also providing a natural barrier against erosion along a slope or hillside.
River rock is small enough that you can go directly from your home improvement store to your installation site with no hassle; however, if you’re looking for something bigger than river rock then we suggest checking out our post on large stone options.
Maintenance tips for Diy River Rock Retaining Wall
- Maintain a level surface. This will help keep the wall in place and prevent water from pooling on one side of the wall. It’s also important that you have a level surface, to begin with, because if your soil is too rocky or the ground undulates, it may be difficult to get your drainage layers to match up perfectly.
- Keep it clean. You don’t want grass growing through or mosses forming where they shouldn’t be; this could lead to erosion and other problems down the line. This should also go without saying: don’t walk on your retaining wall.
- Keep it moist (but not too moist). When building this project outdoors during warmer weather, remember that exposing rocks to direct sunlight can cause them to heat up which can cause their moisture content and therefore their weight to increase substantially over time, causing possible structural damage such as cracking or crumbling away entirely. This is why we recommend installing drainage layers between each layer of rock so there’s adequate airflow all around them so they’re less likely to get overheated under hot sun conditions but still make sure not to let those same drainage channels dry out completely either so avoid getting them packed full of dirt too soon after installation time since that’ll only make things worse later down the road once you’ve got everything set up properly already.
This is how you build a river rock retaining wall
- Remember to choose the right location for your retaining wall. If you’re installing it in a garden, make sure there’s enough room on either side of the wall and that it doesn’t block views or sunlight from any windows or doors.
- Determine the height of your retaining wall by measuring from the top of the ground (or existing grade) to where you want to finish at the highest point.
- Decide whether you want a smooth or rough retaining wall surface: smooth will require little maintenance, but rough surfaces can be more aesthetically pleasing if they are well cared for and kept free from debris such as leaves or dirt so they don’t clog together over time.
I hope this article has helped you understand what a DIY river rock retaining wall is and the benefits it can have for your lawn or garden. If you are looking to build one in your backyard then check out our previous article on how do I build a retaining wall.