How To Lay A Block Retaining Wall

A block retaining wall is essentially a wall made of interlocking blocks that are stacked to create your desired structure. They can be used for any number of things, including but not limited to:

-Landscaping purposes (e.g., to create a fence or border)

-Vegetable gardens (e.g., if you don’t have a fence yet)

-Shade structures (e.g., if you have a lot of trees on your property)

-Pathways (e.g., if you’re going to put in a retaining wall but don’t want it to be too tall)

-And more

There are many reasons to build a retaining wall. You could be trying to create space for a garden, or you could be building a path that runs along the side of your property. Whatever your reason, you need to make sure that the wall will hold up over time and be stable.

Block Retaining Walls are perfect for adding some character and style to your yard, as well as creating an attractive border between your property and your neighbor’s. They’re also ideal for creating a level surface that can be used as a patio or garden area. The blocks are easy to install and inexpensive, making them a great choice for DIY projects.

Here’s how to build a retaining wall using eight-inch blocks. Since this wall is only half a block high, we’ll need to use a half-block at the top of the wall every five rows. Before we begin, let’s go over some important considerations:

Planning and Preparation

Planning and preparation are the most important parts of laying a block retaining wall. The first thing you need to do is measure the dimensions of your wall. You’ll need to know:

  • The width of the wall
  • The length of the wall
  • The height of the wall

Layout Your Retaining Wall

Laying a block retaining wall is not only a great way to add value to your property, it can also be quite fun. However, before you begin building the wall it’s important to plan out its layout. If you don’t do this step correctly then it can lead to problems later on when laying the blocks in place.

Here are four steps that will help:

  • Determine the length of your retaining wall
  • Determine how high up the foundation protrudes above ground level (this will be used later)
  • Measure width and depth of area where foundation meets ground surface (you’ll use this information again soon)

Start With The First Block

Start with the first block and work your way up. The key to laying a retaining wall is to build the wall in sections, working from one end, so that you can ensure that each section is level. If you are building a straight-sided retaining wall, this is simple enough: just make sure that each successive layer of blocks is level with the previous layer. However, if your design has curves (as most do), make sure that each curve follows the same radius as its predecessor.

As well as keeping each section level by itself, also check that all of them are level with one another as they get higher up—this will help ensure that your top cap looks good and doesn’t create a big slope along it where water might collect over time!

Checking for correct number of blocks It’s important to have both enough blocks for your project and also ones which are around 20% smaller than what would be needed if they were used full size (i.e., 20% smaller than standard). This prevents them from looking too bulky when laid on top of each other at ground level so instead creates an attractive finish once capped off properly later down track ere near completion stage.”

Second, Third, Fourth And So On

The second course is a little trickier than the first. The third course is a little trickier than the second, and so on. Take your time and be extra careful when building your block retaining wall to ensure that it’s straight, level and secure. If you’re working alone, try standing back from your work periodically to check for alignment issues—it’s easy to become so focused on getting each block in place that you miss small misalignments up close.

Be Careful Of Overlaps – They’ll Throw You Off Later

Laying out your wall can be tricky. If you don’t make sure the blocks are straight, or if there’s an overlap that throws off the whole wall, then it will be harder to build and will look sloppy. One way around this is by laying out your block retaining wall with string lines. Another way is by being careful and not overlapping any blocks as you lay them down.

Square Up Each Course As You Go, And Lay It Out Perfectly Before Putting Down Mortar.

As you go, square up each course and lay it out perfectly before putting down mortar. Use the same tools as when laying concrete: a trowel or shovel, level and string line. Make sure you have the right amount of mortar mix for your project, along with the correct tools for mixing it. If you’re not sure about how to do this, use a professional contractor who can advise you on what to buy and how much will be needed for your project.

Next up is making sure that all of your blocks are straight and level before adding any mortar between them. If they aren’t already perfect (which most will be), use a spirit level on top of each block so that they are all aligned correctly before applying any adhesive! It may take some time but if done properly then this step will ensure that once everything dries properly there won’t be any gaps between blocks which could eventually lead to damage after years’ worth of rainfalls….

When You Add A New Course, Use A Nylon String Line To Help Keep The Blocks Level.

When you add a new course, use a nylon string line to help keep the blocks level. A diagonal line is not necessary, but it will help you get the wall straight and level. If your block retaining wall is out of plumb, fix it before you start laying additional courses of blocks.

Once you have set up your string line (and used it as a guide for leveling each course), check that the top of each block is level with one another by placing a level on top of each one in turn and moving down along the length of every course until all are aligned correctly. If they aren’t perfectly even, use your string line again as an indicator; this time move back up toward where they first started out wrong so you can adjust them accordingly.

If You Need To Cut A Block To Fit The Line, Don’t Cut More Than One Block At A Time.

Cutting Block:

If you need to cut a block to fit the line, don’t cut more than one block at a time. You can use a masonry saw, hacksaw, diamond blade or tile saw to do this job. Make sure you use goggles and heavy leather gloves when doing this task. Cutting blocks with wet saws is also possible but takes longer because the water cools down the blade of the saw.

Taper Your Backfill So That Water Drains Away, Not Towards The Wall.

Once the mortar is applied, you need to remove all excess and smooth it out so that it looks good. Use a trowel to spread the mortar and make sure there are no ridges where water can collect and start to erode your wall.

Plan your wall carefully before beginning the process.

Planning your wall is a critical part of the process. Failure to plan properly will result in wasted time, money and materials. It’s important to note that planning does not have to take too much time or effort, but it’s necessary if you want something that works. Before starting this process you should:

  • Talk with an experienced landscaper about the design of the retaining wall. They can give advice on what will work best in your space and provide suggestions on avoiding common mistakes with retaining walls.
  • Measure how wide your project needs to be using stakes and string lines so there are no surprises when it comes time for building. This may seem obvious but many people make this mistake when they don’t do their homework before starting work on laying a block retaining wall!


We hope this tutorial has helped you figure out what you need to plan your retaining wall project. We know there are a lot of steps involved and it can seem overwhelming, but putting in the effort to select the correct materials, hire a professional if needed, and read all instructions thoroughly will be worth it when you’re enjoying your new outdoor space.

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