How To Make A Cinder Block Retaining Wall

Building a retaining wall using cinder blocks is one of the easiest DIY projects you can do. Cinder blocks are very simple to use and come in a multitude of sizes depending on your project needs. Building a cinder block retaining wall is also very cost effective when compared to other types of materials that can be used to create a retaining wall. If you want to build an attractive, long-lasting wall, it’s important to follow proper building techniques. If you’re willing to put in some time and effort, here’s how to make a cinder block retaining wall:

What you need

You’ll need:

  • Cinder blocks, gravel (to go between the blocks), level and shovel
  • Water hose and bucket of water
  • Paint/stain/paintbrush (optional)
  • Waterproofing sealant for the blocks (optional)

Note: You may want to purchase additional materials depending on the size of your wall and whether or not you plan on staining or sealing it after construction.

How much do I need?

To determine the amount of cinder blocks you need, use this formula:

  • 1 cinder block for every 2 feet of wall (plus an extra block for each corner)

For example, let’s say your retaining wall is 8 feet long. You’ll need 8 total cinder blocks plus one extra for each corner—or a total of 10 blocks.

Dig a trench.

Determine the depth, width and length of your trench.

When digging a trench, make sure you’re not going to hit pipes or wires. If you’re not sure where they are, call someone who knows how to do this safely or hire an excavator.

Get your levels right!

You will want to be sure that your cinder block wall is completely level. This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but without a level you will not be able to figure out how much material you need and if the blocks are going to fit together properly.

There are several different types of levels that can help with this process:

  • A laser level projects a laser line across the surface of the ground, which will show up on your surface if it is not level.
  • A spirit level has a bubble in it and can be checked by looking at where they bubble ends up while you hold it over different parts of your project. The bubble should be centered in both directions along its length and width if everything is level.
  • A water level uses two glass tubes filled with colored water instead of bubbles (and doesn’t require any batteries). It’s placed on two points on opposite sides of the wall being built, allowing you find any areas where there is an uneven slope between those points…

Backfill with gravel.

Now that you have the cinder blocks in place, it’s time to backfill with gravel.

The first step is to spread out enough gravel to fill the entire space between the cinder blocks. Once you have enough, take a shovel and begin filling each gap between the cinder blocks with it. Make sure to compact this material as much as possible while doing so. This will help ensure that your retaining wall stays strong over time and can withstand any pressure put on it by structures above or below ground level.

For an extra measure of security, wait for about two weeks after compacting your gravel before removing any excess dirt or grass from around your new retaining wall (if there was any) and applying any type of sealant or stain that matches your project theme; otherwise, water may seep through cracks in this area over time which could cause structural damage!

Lay the blocks.

Now you’re ready to lay the blocks.

  • Place a row of blocks on either side of the trench, with the “cinder” side (the smoother side) facing up. Make sure that they are level and straight by using a level and a spirit level, respectively. If necessary, move some of your stones into better positions until you have everything in line.
  • Continue building up rows of cinder blocks until you have reached your desired height for the wall. Remember that if you want to create an angled surface at any point in time, it is best to do so from the ground up rather than from above; this allows for more accuracy in measurements as well as fewer chances for mistakes overall!

Once all your walls have been created using this process, fill in any gaps between them using smaller pieces or broken pieces taken from larger ones (this will help give it an aged look). Also consider adding decorative elements such as flowers or vines growing over top of them—it makes all the difference!

Use a level to avoid lumps and bumps.

You’ll need to use a level to check the height of your wall and make sure it’s straight.

Make sure your cinder blocks are all installed at the same height as each other, or else you’ll have lumps and bumps in the wall. To do this, you will need a plumb bob or spirit level—both tools that can be purchased from any hardware store. You can also use a laser level if you have one available (these tools are expensive but well worth their price). Once you’ve got your tool out, hold it against the first cinder block while standing on level ground and adjust its position until it reads “0” in all directions. This will ensure that all subsequent blocks are correctly aligned with this one.

Get some help

It’s a good idea to have someone helping you when you build your cinder block retaining wall. You can do it by yourself, but the process will be much easier if you have help. If you don’t have a friend or family member who is willing to help out, try asking around on Craigslist or posting an ad on Facebook. Someone else in your city may be interested in getting involved!

If you decide that having help isn’t worth it and decide to go it alone, make sure you take frequent breaks throughout the building process so that your muscles don’t get too tired before it’s done!

With these steps, you’ll have a beautiful cinder block retaining wall in no time!

As you begin to build your retaining wall, it’s important to keep safety in mind. While cinder blocks are heavy, they are also quite fragile and can break if dropped or slammed on. Use caution when working with ladders and other equipment around the wall. It’s also important that you wear proper gloves during the mixing process, as concrete can be very abrasive on bare skin. When using a hammer or any other tool with an edge, be sure that it is covered with a layer of some sort to prevent injury from flying debris; this is especially true when laying brick face units or doing any other detail work where there may be small pieces falling from above.

Use leveling equipment as necessary (such as level lines) so that each course of block is straight and level before adding another one over top of it; otherwise you’ll end up with an uneven surface for walking upon once complete!


We hope this tutorial has been helpful to you. Let us know if you have any other questions about building your own cinder block retaining wall or building a retaining wall with blocks in general and we will be happy to help.

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