Whether you’re looking to erect a retaining wall or create an enclosed flower bed, a block wall is an effective solution for your home’s landscaping needs. And while building a block wall may seem daunting at first, the project can be easily completed by anyone with moderate DIY skills. All it takes is some planning, preparation and elbow grease! So grab your gloves and follow our step-by-step guide below on how to build a landscape block wall.
Step 1: Plan Your Block Wall
Step 1: Plan Your Block Wall
Start with a sketch of the block wall. Make sure it is level and square, and that it is the right size for the space you want to cover. Also make sure your layout is symmetrical and pleasing to the eye.
Step 2: Dig the Footing Trench
The next step is to dig your trench. The trench should be about 4″ deep and 15″ wide. This size will allow for a solid, stable footing for your block wall. The most important thing to remember when digging the footing trench is to make sure it’s level and straight so that the blocks will fit flush against each other when they’re stacked on top of each other. A good way of doing this is by using a laser or chalk line. You can also use stakes, wooden boards or sticks as guides while digging (as seen in pictures below). Make sure that all sides are square and plumb before moving onto the next step: laying out where you’ll lay down landscape blocks and leveling them out with gravel.
Step 3: Mix Concrete and Prepare the Ground
- Mixing concrete is a two-step process. First, you must mix the concrete and then use it to level out the ground where you will be building your wall.
- Grab a wheelbarrow and some shovels. The size of your wall will determine how much concrete you need to mix up, but it’s always better to err on the side of having too much than not enough. Measure out the amount needed for each step according to directions on your bag of concrete mix and pour into separate buckets or other designated containers.
- Next, remove rocks, roots and debris from where you plan on pouring your foundation. Make sure that there are no large holes in which water could collect later as this could cause issues with drainage as well as cause potential damage down the line. Use a spade when necessary; most stone walls are built at least partially above ground level so be careful not to dig too deep into dirt that can’t support heavy loads like stones (this would mean digging down too far).
Step 4: Install and Level the First Course of Blocks
To install the first course of blocks, you need to level them. Place the blocks on top of one another, then check to make sure they are level using a level. If they aren’t, use your spade or shovel to move dirt underneath them as necessary until they are level with one another.
Next, mix up some concrete and apply it between each block without allowing any cracks between them (you can use a trowel for this). Use wooden stakes to tamp down the concrete before setting down another course of blocks so that there is no space where water can pool and cause deterioration in your wall over time. When you are finished installing all four courses of landscape wall blocks, smooth out any rough spots that may have occurred during installation by filling in these spaces with more gravel and tamping with stakes again.
Step 5: Add a Second Course of Blocks
The next course of blocks will be laid on top of the first so that the longer sides are facing up and down.
Again, lay out your blocks in the same way as you did with the first course so they are all level with each other. Keep in mind that this time when you put them into place they will be staggered, while they were all lined up before. The joints should still line up, but this time there is going to be a gap between each block where there was none before.
When you’re done laying out all of your second course blocks you can check that everything is straight, level and square by measuring from corner to corner across each block or along both edges of an individual block.”
Step 6: Continue to Add Courses, Altering the Pattern for Each Row
Now that you’ve laid the first course, it’s time to add more blocks. However, before you do so, make sure that the first course is level and aligned properly. Use a level or straight edge to check that each block is sitting on top of both guides at its correct height. If any blocks are out of alignment, remove them and put them in their proper place before continuing with your next row.
Repeat step 3 until you have three courses of blocks in place; then readjust your guides upward by 2 inches (5 cm) for the fourth course so that they are just above where they were when you laid down the third course. Continue building up rows until your wall reaches about 6 feet (1.8 m) high—this will give enough height for most people who want privacy along an existing fence line but still want enough sunlight coming through if they need extra privacy from neighbors’ windows facing toward theirs
Step 7: Scratch a Line on Each Block’s Face Using a Masonry Chisel
With your level and masonry chisel, scribe a line on each block’s face. This will help you align the blocks together when you’re ready to install them.
To adjust the position of a block after it has been laid out, use a mason’s trowel to scratch another line across its top. The new scratch mark should be aligned with the last row of blocks installed in that section (in this case, rows 1 and 2).
Only scratch lines on all blocks before installing them; if you have to make changes after installing any one block, any subsequent adjustments could disrupt those around it. If you need more room for another layer of blocks, remove and reposition some existing ones by following these steps:
Step 8: Fill the Core Space with Mortar
Fill the core space with mortar. Use a trowel to spread the mortar, making sure it reaches all of your blocks. The level should be used to check that the mortar is level with the face of your block wall. Let dry overnight before continuing with Step 9 (installing stone retaining wall). If you are using a stone retaining wall, refer to Steps 1 – 7 in How To Build A Stone Retaining Wall for instructions on how to create a base for your stone retaining wall and install stones as shown in this step-by-step tutorial on how to build a landscape block wall.
Step 9: Keep Laying Blocks Until You Reach Your Desired Height
Once you have a few courses of blocks laid, you can use a level to check your walls for straightness. If the wall is not straight, remove the blocks that are sticking out, and re-lay them in their correct position. Use the level again to ensure that they are aligned properly.
When laying this type of block wall, if you find that the mortar mix is too wet or too dry, it will be very difficult to get your next row of blocks into place without moving those below it or pushing them out of alignment with adjacent rows.
Building a block wall can be challenging, but rewarding.
Building a block wall can be challenging, but rewarding. Block walls are great for adding privacy and security to your home. They can be built to any height, but should be at least five feet tall. Block walls do not need to be insulated.
If you want to add walking lights, wire the lights before starting construction of your wall so that you don’t have to work around them when installing the blocks in place. If you’re planning on adding top caps to your wall (to prevent rainwater from seeping through), make sure they are securely attached before placing them on top of the blocks; otherwise they may fall off and cause someone walking by damage.
Once you’ve completed those steps, you’ll have a beautiful block wall that your neighbors will envy.