Building a low brick retaining wall can prevent soil erosion and help you level out your lawn. It’s a yard feature that will add character to your landscape and last for years with proper care. Here is what you need to know about building a brick retaining wall:
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- Learn how to curate content from different parts of a blog post into sections, placing each section under its own subheading that describes what it is about. This is equivalent to understanding how each paragraph should be labeled as well.
Mark the Area
You can mark the area for digging with a tape measure or by pacing off the desired length of your wall. Once you’ve determined where to begin digging, use a shovel to excavate the trench that will be your foundation for the brick wall.
Make sure the bottom of this trench is level and flat—you’ll need to place your bricks evenly on top of this surface in order for them to sit flat and straight. If necessary, use a string line tied between two stakes at either end of where you plan on building your retaining wall; this will help ensure that everything is level as you dig out more soil from underneath it until it’s flush with ground level (or as close as possible).
Excavate the Area
Excavate the area to be used for your brick retaining wall. Dig a trench that is deep enough to support the height of your wall, and make sure it’s wide enough to accommodate both the bricks and mortar. A good rule of thumb is that your trench should be at least four times as wide as you want your finished wall to be.
If your soil is very loose or sandy, you may need to compact it before building your low brick retaining wall. This can be done with either an air hammer or manual tampers (also called tampers) – just work carefully so as not to damage any pipes or other buried objects.
Excavate the Trench Base
Excavate the trench base.
- Using a shovel, dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the height of your brick retaining wall and 1-2 inches deeper than the width of each course of bricks (see diagram).
- Cover all dirt from previous excavations with tarps or plastic sheeting until you are ready to use it for leveling out your new mortar bed for your new retaining wall.
Place a Leveling Layer of Sand
Place a leveling layer of sand in between the bricks. This will prevent the wall from sinking, leaning, cracking and shifting.
Sand is an excellent levelling layer because it compresses very easily, which means that any unevenness in your final product can be leveled out by simply pressing down on the sand with your hands or feet (or even a brick).
Spread a Layer of Mortar on the Foundation Wall
Spread a layer of mortar on the foundation wall according to the directions on the bag. The mortar should be applied to the foundation wall with a trowel and spread evenly. Make sure it’s thick enough that you can’t see through it, but not so thick that there’s no give when you’re pressing your fingers into it.
If you’re building a long retaining wall, use spacers to create an even gap between each row of bricks.
Mix Concrete in a Wheelbarrow
Before you can begin building your low brick retaining wall, you’ll need to mix the concrete. To do this, you’ll want to:
- Use a wheelbarrow. You can purchase these at any hardware store and they come in several sizes. Choose one that’s big enough to hold all of the concrete you will be mixing at once.
- Add water before adding sand or gravel. It’s important that there isn’t too much water when it comes time for pouring because it may cause cracks in your wall later on.
Build the First Block Course
To begin the first course, you’ll need to have your materials on hand and prepared.
- Tape measure or ruler
- Bricklayer’s trowel (a large flat trowel)
- Bricklayer’s hammer
Build the Second and Third Courses
The second and third courses are built in the same way as the first, except that you need to use more bricks.
The wall should now be straight, but it’s still not very solid. To make it stronger, we’ll add some steel reinforcements.
Install Drainage Pipes Behind the Wall
- Dig a trench behind the retaining wall.
- Install a drainage pipe within the trench.
- Cover the drainage pipe with topsoil so that it can’t be seen.
Backfill Dirt for Support; Add Topsoil for Planting Space
The next step is to backfill dirt behind the brick wall, creating a solid base for it to sit on. You’ll want to backfill at least an inch deep, but don’t pack the soil down too tightly. The soil should be able to settle over time without losing its shape. Once you’ve filled your space with dirt, cover it with topsoil or sod and let it grow into a lawn or garden bed.
Building a retaining wall is easier than you think.
A low brick retaining wall can be an excellent addition to any yard. You’ll need a few items before you begin, including:
- A shovel
- A rake
- A spade or pitchfork
- Brick edging (sold separately)
The first step in building your own low brick retaining wall is to make sure you have enough dirt and/or gravel available for the project. If you don’t have enough of either material on hand, you may be able to purchase more at your local hardware store or home improvement center. Once the materials are gathered and ready, the next step is determining which materials will work best for this particular type of project. The first choice should always be brick because it has been used for centuries due its durability and beauty.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about how to build a low brick retaining wall. The project might seem daunting, but with the right materials and some hard work, it’s totally doable. Plus, once you’re done, you’ll have a nice new addition to your outdoor space! If you found this article helpful and want to try another project in the future, be sure to check out our full list of articles on home improvement topics.