How To Lay Cinder Block Retaining Wall

Cinder block is a versatile building material that can be used to create a variety of structures, including retaining walls. A retaining wall is a structure that supports the soil behind it, preventing erosion and landslides. It also helps to prevent soil from falling into an area where it’s not wanted. For example, if you want to keep water from flooding a basement or crawlspace, you might install a retaining wall at the bottom of the hillside next to your home.

Laying a cinder block retaining wall is an easy way to create a strong and long-lasting structure to help prevent soil erosion in your yard. A well-built retaining wall will add value to your property, enhance the look of your landscaping, and provide additional usable space for planting flowers or building a deck over the area.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps for setting up your materials, laying the first row of blocks, ensuring that it’s level and straight, adding in reinforcements (if necessary), and then completing all remaining rows until you’ve finished your project.

With these instructions in hand and some patience, you can easily get started on this DIY project in just one weekend!

By creating a “dead man” anchor inside each block.

By creating a “dead man” anchor inside each block. The dead man anchors are used to prevent the wall from moving during an earthquake or high winds.

A dead man anchor is created by drilling a hole in the top of each cinder block, then inserting rebar into the holes. The rebar should be bent up at 45 degrees, with one end going into the retaining wall and one end extending out of it (see image).

By digging a trench and filling it with gravel or crushed stone.

  • How deep should you dig the trench?
  • How much gravel or crushed stone do I need to fill the trench?
  • How do I compact the gravel or crushed stone?
  • How do I lay the blocks over this layer of gravel or crushed stone?
  • And how will I anchor them down so they don’t move around due to weather and soil conditions.

By digging deep enough so that the blocks will be at least half-buried in the ground.

The trench should be deep enough so that the blocks will be at least half buried in the ground.

The depth of your trench depends on how long your retaining wall is, but in general it should be at least as deep as the height of your cinder block. For example, if you are installing a 6-foot-high (1.83 meters) wall and want it to slope back 3 feet (0.91 meters), you need to dig a trench that’s at least 9 feet (2.74 meters) long and 6 feet (1.83 meters) deep—that way each block will be almost halfway into the ground when it’s installed across its length.

By compacting the dirt with a tamper before laying the first course of blocks.

  • Compact the dirt.
  • Lay the first course of blocks straight on top of each other and level with your line.

By adding gravel or crushed stone to the trench in 2″ layers, and tamping each one down before adding the next.

Lay the blocks in a straight line, tamping down each layer before adding the next.

To ensure that your retaining wall is straight and level, use a level to check its height as you go along. Before continuing, you should be able to stand back and see that your wall is perfectly vertical (or almost so).

Concrete block retaining walls need to be anchored in place to avoid toppling over.

Concrete blocks are heavy, and if an untrained person attempts to build a retaining wall with them, the structure is likely to fail. This can be avoided by fastening the blocks securely into place. Cinder block retaining walls need to be anchored in place to avoid toppling over. Place the blocks on a solid foundation, such as a concrete slab or base of compacted dirt or sand, which will support their weight while they’re being placed and once they’re in place.

The simplest way to secure a cinder block retaining wall is by placing rebar (steel rods used for reinforcing concrete) into holes drilled into each of its sides at regular intervals along its length and tying them together with wire or metal straps; this will ensure that it doesn’t topple over when loaded with soil on top of it


These are the steps to lay a cinder block retaining wall. The most important thing is to ensure that you pour your concrete footings and lay your first row of blocks on top of them. This can seem daunting, but it’s really not as hard as it may seem at first glance.

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