Building a retaining wall can do a lot for home landscaping projects. You can use them to create more usable land on the property and prevent erosion. They can even work to manage water runoff.
When most people look at a block retaining wall, they imagine that it’s a project that would be too difficult to complete on their own. However, with the right tools and a little bit of time, you can build your own landscape wall.
This post will show you what it takes to build a retaining wall at home. This includes collecting the right materials, visualizing where your wall will go, laying down a solid foundation, and then actually building your DIY retaining wall.
Materials and Supplies for your DIY Retaining Wall
This is a basic list of the materials and tools needed for building a retaining wall. It is important to note that some of the amounts will vary depending on the length and height of the envisioned landscape wall.
- Circular saw (like the Exactrack 20V 6-½” Circular Saw)
- Masonry circular saw blade
- Measuring tape
- Speed square
- Rubber mallet
- Garden rake
- Hand tamper
- Caulk gun
- Retaining wall blocks
- Construction adhesive
- Landscape fabric
- Paver base
- Mason line
Determining the Path of Your Landscape Wall
The first thing you need to do as you begin construction is determine where you are going to build the landscape wall. Once you have a general idea of where your block retaining wall will go, use stakes and mason line to mark it out. Lay the stakes to determine the basic outline of the wall, and then run line between the poles.
With the outline of the retaining wall marked out, you can use your shovel to start digging the trench. Before you begin, you need to measure a retaining wall block from front to back. Once you have an accurate measurement, dig the trench to be about twice as wide as your blocks and 4-6 inches deep.
Laying the Foundation
With the trench dug, you can now start building the foundation for your DIY retaining wall. The first step is to get your hand tamper and pack down the dirt. Make sure it is thoroughly tamped down and that the ground is level.
Once you’re satisfied with your efforts, you can fill about three inches of your trench with your paver base. Spread the base evenly with your garden rake and then use your tamper to press it down. It is important to tamp the sand down well because this is the foundation of your retaining wall.
Building the Block Retaining Wall
The First Row
With your foundation set, you can start building the retaining wall. For the first row of blocks, chisel off the interlocking lip on the back of the blocks. On the other layers, the lip will serve to hold the blocks to the row beneath. Yet, on the first row, if the lip is left on, it will cause the blocks to sit unevenly.
Set your first block in the first row and check it with your smaller torpedo level. As you lay the blocks, continually check to make sure they are even and level. As you get more blocks laid, use a longer level to check the level of the groups of blocks.
If you find that any blocks are uneven, you will need to make adjustments to the base under the block. If a section of a block is too high, try to tamp it down using your rubber mallet. If it is too low, try to fill in some of the base with more paver base.
Completing the Rows
With the next row, you are going to want to stagger the joints of the blocks. To do this, you will need to take the first block and cut it in half. Mark the block and cut it with a masonry blade using your circular saw.
Put the cut block in place, making sure to keep the lip of the block tight to the back of the block in the first row. Check to make sure it is level before moving on.
Setting Up the Drainage for the Landscape Wall
After you have your first few rows complete, you will need to lay down your drainage. Get your landscaping fabric and lay it out behind your block retaining wall. Make sure to leave enough material to reach the tops of your retaining wall blocks. Use the gravel to fill the area directly behind the wall.
Continue building the wall until you reach the last two rows of blocks. With these, you need to apply construction adhesive to the tops of the set blocks. If you choose to put caps on top of the wall, you will also want to fix them in place using some adhesive.
Finally, you need to fold the excess landscaping fabric away from your DIY retaining wall and fill the space in with soil. Once you have the soil laid, the space behind the wall is ready for planting.
Building a DIY retaining landscape wall is easier than you think when you have the right tools handy. Get started today with the easy-to-use products from Worx!