If you want to correct a sloping lawn or add some interest to your landscape, then a retaining wall may be just the ticket. By using concrete blocks with interlocking flanges, this DIY project is something you can tackle in a weekend and enjoy for years to come.
Designing Your Wall for Your Lifestyle
Determine where you want the wall to go and mark the area with stakes and twine. For a free form, less structured shape, use landscaping paint to define the outline of the wall. Here’s a chance to show your creative side – after checking your local building codes of course. Any wall higher than four feet may require a structural engineer to help with it. Also, be sure to check with homeowner’s associations or other neighborhood governing organizations for restrictions before starting construction.
What You Will Need
In addition to concrete blocks, you will need a list of materials. Many are heavy, so you may want to arrange a delivery. No use wearing yourself out before you lay the first brick!
- Paver base material – usually a mixture of gravel and crushed limestone
- Level – preferably 2 feet or longer
- Rubber mallet
- Construction adhesive
- Perforated drain pipe
- Hand or gas powered tamper
- Landscape rake
A Good Foundation Makes all the Difference
A firm foundation sets up how secure the wall will be as you build it up. Checking to see that the blocks are level and that you have adequate drainage during the building process is vital. These two steps will help stabilize the wall and keep it from cracking or bowing outward.
Time to Get Dirty
Now that you have all of your materials, let’s roll up those sleeves and get to work.
- Excavate – Dig a trench twice the width of the blocks and deep enough to bury the first level of blocks halfway.
- Ensure a level base – Add paver base to the trench and spread it evenly.
- Compact the base – With a tamper compact the base material.
- Level the base – Use a board to help level the base material. Check with the torpedo level.
- Lay the base blocks – Remove the interlocking flange from the blocks on the bottom row. Check to see if blocks are level and use mallet to help adjust blocks.
- Fill in around base – Add soil around the front of the blocks and tamp down to provide support.
- Provide proper drainage – Place a perforated drain pipe at the bottom of the wall, cover with landscaping fabric, and fill around with gravel.
- Continue stacking blocks – Stagger the joints on each row by starting alternate rows with a half block.
- Backfill as you go – Fill behind each level of blocks with gravel and tamp down.
- Add capstones if desired – Even though it is not structurally necessary, it will give the wall a finished look. Use construction adhesive when placing capstones.
Talk About Curb Appeal
Now that your wall is completed you can add creative touches that will help reflect your personal style. Add a splash of color by staining the blocks or add plants to the top of the wall that will soon cascade over the edge. The sky is the limit. Building a retaining wall is hard work but it provides rewards for many years down the road. You’ve just added a lot of sweat equity to your landscape and upped your home’s curb appeal, all in one weekend. Now where’s that lawn chair?!
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From masonry saws and tampers to trenchers and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.