A retaining wall is a structure used to hold back or retain soil, either for structural support or as a retaining structure. The most common type of retaining wall is the gravity wall. These walls are built parallel to the direction of the slope, and they are often reinforced with concrete footings and posts. The second type of retaining wall is called an earth berm, which is a wall that is constructed on top of the ground and uses soil as its primary material. Both types of retaining wall can be made from concrete blocks, bricks, or stones.
Retaining walls are useful for elevating slopes and preventing soil erosion, but their utility can be costly. When designing your own retaining wall on a budget, consider making your own retaining wall blocks with concrete. Not only will this save you money, it will also let you customize the height and shape of your wall to better fit your budget and landscape. Here’s how to make some simple blocks using concrete, sand, and gravel.
Dig your trench and make sure to level it as you go along.
- Dig your trench and make sure to level it as you go along. It should be deep enough to hold the blocks, wide enough for them to fit in snugly, and level. If you’re working with a large area, you may need to dig multiple trenches – one for each row of blockwork. Once you’ve dug out the first trench, use this as a guide for how far apart each row should be.
- Place retaining wall block in position on ground using construction adhesive or mortar mix for a permanent installation (If using mortar mix add water gradually until consistency is right).
Fill the bottom of your trench with crushed stone.
Fill the bottom of your trench with crushed stone. The purpose of this is to provide support for the blocks when they’re stacked, so it has to be sturdy and durable, and it should be something that won’t move around in a breeze or heavy rain. Because of this, we recommend using either gravel or concrete patio stones (you can find these at any home improvement store). These two materials are easy to dig up, place in the trench, level out with sand and water if needed, clean up after use (use rakes!), and transport easily if needed.
Pour concrete into your forms and let them sit for a day or two.
Once you have all of your supplies, you will need to mix the concrete. For this project, we recommend using a ratio of 1 part cement and 3 parts sand. You can also add water to make sure the consistency is correct.
The next step is to pour the concrete into your forms and let them sit for a day or two so that they’re nice and stable before moving them into place.
Remove the forms from the molds.
Once the forms are dry and firm, use a hammer and chisel, screwdriver, crowbar, saw (if you’re using treated lumber), or sledgehammer to remove them. If you’re using concrete blocks, use a chisel to break them apart; if they’re made of cement-filled cinder blocks it will take more time for your forms to dry before you can remove them.
Place the blocks so that they fit and then pack dirt in between them.
Now that you have the blocks in place and level, it’s time to add dirt. Place the next block on top of the first one at an angle so that it fits in between them perfectly. Then, pack dirt into any gaps around each block until they’re all flush with one another and level along both sides of your wall. If any parts are sticking out or unevenly high compared with others, use a sledgehammer and/or chisel to knock off whatever needs knocking off until your retaining wall looks like a well-behaved structure should look.
Add a layer of crushed rock over the blocks and behind them.
Add a layer of crushed rock over the blocks and behind them. Crushed rock is used to fill the gaps, and hold your blocks in place. You can use any type of small-sized (1/2″ – 2″ diameter) crushed rock that you can find locally. Keep in mind that this will be on display so it should be pleasing to look at, as well as functional! If you don’t have access to crushed stone at a local landscaping store, try looking for small stones in your yard or around town that would work well together aesthetically—this might take some searching but it will be worth it!
You can make retaining wall blocks at home with a little instruction.
If you’re going to build a retaining wall, the first thing to do is make sure you have all the tools and materials ready. The process can be time consuming, so make sure you have plenty of time for yourself before starting.
The next step involves measuring out your dimensions and figuring out how many blocks will fit into that space. Once this is done, it’s time to go shopping. With all of your supplies in hand, it’s finally time to get started on making those retaining wall blocks at home with a little instruction from us.
If you’re going to be building a retaining wall, you’ll need to figure out whether it’s worth buying blocks or making them. If you decide that it is worth saving money, then take your time and do it right. You will never regret taking the extra time on a project as large and important as this one.