Many homeowners that have sloped land have a hard time figuring out the best way to level, or at least control the slope. One solution is to build a retaining wall made of cinder blocks, bricks or other masonry materials. The blocks are stacked one on top of another and then filled in with dirt, gravel or other material to make them as stable as possible and prevent settling.
Step 1 – Decide On The Height And Purpose
Before you get started, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. The first is the height of the wall that you’re building. The second is how strong it needs to be and what kind of material will give it maximum strength. Thirdly, you should consider whether or not your retaining wall will need to withstand earthquakes or falling debris.
The last thing we recommend asking yourself before starting construction is whether or not your retaining wall should be built with water resistant materials in order to protect from weathering or erosion over time.
Step 2 – Lay Out The Blocks
Once you have the wall laid out, make sure it is level by using a laser level or a level.
Then, lay down 2-inch-thick pieces of framing lumber to give yourself something to set the blocks on when you are laying them. The size of your blocks will dictate how many courses you need to build before adding any additional support for the wall.
Step 3 – Dig Foundation Trench
- Dig the foundation trench. The size and depth of your trench will depend on what type of wall blocks you’re using, as well as how tall you want your retaining wall to be. For example, if you’re using traditional concrete blocks, dig a long hole that’s wide enough for two rows of blocks (measured side by side) and deep enough so that they fit inside with an inch or two of room left over at the top. You can use a shovel or mattock (a handheld gardening tool with an ax-like blade at one end), but loosen up rocky soil in advance by striking it with a sledgehammer before digging.
- Make sure that it’s straight and level before pouring in concrete; otherwise, any errors will show up later when building on top of them.
Step 4 – Create A Foundation
Now that you have your blocks, it’s time to start building. You’ll need to make a foundation for the retaining wall. This is typically a trench or hole in the ground that you will place the blocks into as they go up.
You can use a spade or shovel to dig out a section of earth approximately 1-2 inches deep and then remove it using a wheelbarrow or other type of large container. Be careful not to overdo this step because if you dig too deep, your wall may fall over.
Once you’ve removed enough dirt from around where your first block will be placed, smooth out any uneven areas with a rake until it’s flat and level with its surroundings. Remember: The more even your foundation looks now, the better off everything else will be later on.
Step 5 – Pave The Trench With Gravel
To pave the trench you’ll need to lay down gravel. Gravel is widely available, cheap and easy to work with. It’s used in many types of construction projects including driveways, parking lots and walkways.
To prepare the gravel for laying it’s best to wash it thoroughly so that it’s free of dust and dirt that can get mixed into your mortar mix during pouring. You can spread out a layer of sand on top for this purpose or simply use a garden hose set to its highest pressure setting (but do not raise it above 20 PSI).
When laying down the gravel make sure that there are no areas where there are gaps larger than 1/4 inch between bricks or blocks since these areas will tend to become weaker over time as moisture seeps through them causing cracks around them which may eventually lead them falling out altogether when wet weather comes along again later on down the road.
Step 6 – Set First Block
If you are building a retaining wall with precast blocks, the first block should be set to the level of your foundation. If you’re using a mortar-based block, it will sit on top of 1″ or 2″ gravel or crushed stone that has been poured into the trench.
The first step is to get some help from another person and set up the string line at least 6″ above ground level. Make sure that it is perfectly straight and level by measuring from one end of the string to another over its entire length and adjusting it if needed.
Once you have established your reference point, measure down from this point to where each row will begin (usually 12″). Set stakes at these points so they are visible when beginning work later on in this process
Step 7 – Lay Second Course
Lay the second course of blocks in a pattern similar to the first, but avoid laying any block on top of a joint between two connected blocks from the first course. Use a level to check that each block is level with the previous one and adjust as necessary.
If your retaining wall will be made from concrete, you’ll need to dig out an area slightly deeper than where the bottom layer of blocks will sit so that there’s room for gravel at the bottom and top of each block. Dig out this trench using either a spade or shovel (depending on how deep it needs to be). You can also use an auger drill if you want it done quickly.
Step 8 – Fix Retaining Wall Using Geogrid
The next step is to fix the retaining wall using geogrid. As mentioned, the geogrid should be placed on top of the blocks so that it forms a horizontal grid.
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Step 9 – Fill In The Backfill Area
- Fill in the backfill area with soil, topsoil or mulch.
- Fill in the backfill area with gravel.
Step 10 – Fill Gaps With Topsoil Or Mulch
Fill the gaps between your retaining wall blocks with topsoil or mulch. Topsoil is a good choice because it is easy to work with, while mulch is good because it is easy to work with and it helps keep the soil moist. Mulch also helps keep weeds from growing, which can be a problem if you don’t have another way of keeping them out of your garden bed.
How to build retaining wall blocks steps
- Decide on the height and purpose of your retaining wall.
- Lay out the blocks in a straight line, starting at one end and extending as far as you want the retaining wall to go.
- Dig a foundation trench that is 1-1/2 times as deep as it is wide and 2 feet wider than your proposed block length.
- Create a foundation for each course by laying concrete blocks or pavers side by side in the trench and filling them with gravel until they are level with ground surface around them (this will make it easier to lay subsequent courses). If you’re using pavers instead of concrete blocks, place short pieces of rebar into holes drilled through each paver so they can be tied together later on during construction; this will also help keep them from moving when being filled with soil later on during construction
The final step is to add topsoil or mulch in the backfill area and the gaps between blocks.