Building a retaining wall is a great way to create a useable space in your yard. Whether you want to turn an unusable slope into something more functional or create a raised garden bed, it’s easy to do with the right materials and some simple instructions. We’ll show you how it’s done.
MARK OUT THE WALL
Mark out the wall height
You’ll need to mark the height and width of your retaining wall before you start building it. Make sure you have a level surface to build on, then lay down some stakes and string lines that are level with each other to mark where your base will go. Use a long-handled spirit level or laser levels if necessary. Make sure that all corners of the wall are square and at right angles: if they aren’t, they won’t look right when built up and will be harder to get straight in construction (and they’ll cost more).
DIG A TRENCH
The next step is to dig the trench. You will need to dig a trench that is 2 feet deep and 3 feet wide, with the bottom of the trench at least 6 inches from the base of your wall. It can be difficult to get large amounts of dirt out of a small area, so if you are working with limited space or time, it may be easier for you to dig down into your yard rather than moving dirt off-site.
You can dig this trench by hand using a shovel or hoe; however, if you have access to machinery such as backhoes or excavators then using these machines will also work well here.
ADD THE LEVELING SAND
Once you’ve laid out the first layer of stones, it’s time to add leveling sand. This is done in order to create a flat surface on which you can build your retaining wall. The amount of sand depends on how high up you want the wall to be; more sand means more height.
To compact the sand, use a tamper (which is like a large rolling pin). Roll it over the top of each stone and then use your hands to smooth out any gaps between stones before moving onto another one. Repeat until all stones are covered with leveling sand.
ADD THE PIPE BEHIND THE BLOCKS
For this part of the project, you’ll need a length of PVC pipe that is slightly larger than the width of your blocks. You will also need a level to ensure that the pipe is straight, a hacksaw to cut it to the correct length and a drill bit to make holes in it.
You should use PVC pipe rather than metal because it can withstand extreme weather conditions better than metal. Also, since you’re building a retaining wall on sloped land, using concrete blocks will help keep them stable in case they’re subjected to heavy pressure or strong winds.
To build your wall properly and safely:
- Measure out how much soil needs to be removed based on how far back from your block border you want your retaining wall’s base layers—in other words, measure how many inches deep each layer needs to be for stability purposes (remembering that deeper means more secure).
PREPARE THE BLOCKS FOR INSTALLATION
- Remove the paper from the back of the block.
- Place them on a flat surface and make sure they are level.
- Use a level to make sure they are straight and level.
LAY THE FIRST COURSE OF BLOCKS
Gather the necessary tools and materials. Make sure you have a level, tape measure, spirit level and plumb line on hand to ensure your retaining wall is perfectly straight. You’ll also want to make sure that you have access to a laser level if possible.
Using a laser-guided system will help ensure that each block is placed in exactly the same spot every time, ensuring consistency throughout your project.
DRY STACK THE BLOCKS ON TOP OF EACH OTHER
If your retaining wall is going to be a permanent fixture, you will want to make sure that the blocks are level. To do this, check for level using a spirit level and block leveler. If necessary, use a screwdriver or mallet to adjust them until they’re completely straight and aligned with each other.
FILL IN BETWEEN AND BEHIND BLOCKS WITH CRUSHED ROCK
If you’re building a retaining wall on your property, you’ll need to fill between and behind blocks with crushed rock. This can be done by hand or with a spade.
If you plan to do it by hand, place the crushed rock in a wheelbarrow and shovel it into the gaps between or behind your retaining blocks.
If you want help from Mother Nature, simply lay down some cardboard or plastic under where the crushed rock will be placed so that when you dump it out onto the ground, it won’t make too much mess.
To retain the soil, you need to install a retaining wall.
Retaining walls are used to hold soil in place and prevent erosion. They can also be built to provide a foundation for a deck or patio, as well as serve other purposes such as creating an attractive element for your yard.
To build a retaining wall, you need to install stakes at regular intervals along the area where you want your retaining wall to go (usually along an embankment). Next, secure wire mesh between these stakes so that there is enough room for dirt fill between the wire mesh and stake.
Next, lay out concrete blocks in alternating directions from bottom to top until the desired height is reached; if necessary, add more concrete blocks on top of those already in place until you reach this height. Once this step has been completed and all concrete blocks are secured properly with mortar mix between each block face/back surface connection point (approximately 16 inches apart), fill in-between spaces with gravel or sand mixed with water until it’s level with ground level outside edges of blocks facing downslope directionally towards center point where drainage hole will later be drilled into base rock layer below structure itself (if possible)
Thicker walls will require more work but be more stable.
Walls that are up to 4 feet tall do not need reinforcement and can be built out of basic blocks, but walls taller than 4 feet will need additional materials like gravel or rebar. The higher the wall, the more likely it is that you’ll need additional materials and time spent on prep because even with these extra steps taken, there’s always a chance your wall will collapse at some point (so get ready for some extra landscaping).
Good luck! And if this seems like too much work for you, consider hiring a professional landscaper who has experience working with retaining walls. They’ll know all about how to build one safely, effectively-and most importantly-within code requirements.