How to Build a Retaining Wall (Continued)



Building a Retaining Wall Eight Step Outline

  1. Tools and Equipment
  2. Retaining Wall Plan and Layout
  3. Excavation
  4. Base Material
  5. Compact
  6. Lay the First Row
  7. Backfill
  8. Retaining Wall Capping

1. Tools and Equipment

  • First read all manuals, instructions and safety guidelines provided by your manufacturer
  • Safety glasses
  • Hammer
  • Spade or backhoe
  • Chisel for splitting
  • Power saw
  • Levels
  • Power tamper or hand compactor
  • Tape measure
  • Stakes and string

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

2. Plan and Layout

Be sure to plan your site for installing a retaining wall correctly. If you need to consult a professional, it may be beneficial in the end, particularly if your retaining wall is large.

The size of your wall will really depend on how much space you have. Map out and measure your layout by using stakes and string, pulled tightly. If you’re installing a curved retaining wall, use a garden hose or spray paint, to mark and map out the curved radius.

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

3. Excavation

This base preparation step, is the most important, in the installation process. As a rule of thumb, when digging your trench, the bottom row of blocks should be buried about 1 inch for every 8 inches of wall height.

This provides the strength and stability of your retaining wall.

Followed by this, you should make sure that your trench is level and also compact the soil down.

Retaining Wall Base Excavation

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

4. Base Material

Your base material should only consist of angular, sharp edged particles. This allows for better compaction. Round rocks will sink under pressure, and cause defects in your retaining wall later on. Typically, crushed stone and crushed concrete are used for base materials.

Lay a 4-6 inch layer of your crushed base material. Now compact it and make sure it is level. Following this, a 1 inch layer of coarse sand is also recommended.

Pouring the retaining wall base material.

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

5. Compact

Using the appropriate type of compactor for your site size either powered or hand operated, level and compact your base material. This is so important; the base should be so compact, that when you walk over it, there is no shift at all.

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

6. Lay the First Row

Lay the first row of blocks straight on to the base material.

The blocks should be laid with their edges touching. Make sure that the blocks are level with each other on all sides; top and bottom, front and back. Take your time with this step, for it will make for a better, sturdier retaining wall.

Laying Retaining Wall Blocks

In order to keep the retaining wall straight, use a string line to guide you along.

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

7. Backfill

After each row is completed, you should use backfill to reinforce the retaining wall.

Crushes stone is used to fill in the back and sides of your blocks. This is usually carried out after each row is laid. Backfill helps with water drainage.

Backfill for retaining wall blocks

Compact the backfill before starting on the next row of blocks. You should also clean and sweep the top of each row, before the next is started on.

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps

8. Capping

Wall capping is always encouraged and recommended for your retaining walls. Capping protects your retaining walls from weather and erosion. Capping ensures that your retaining wall remains sturdy and lasts a lot longer! retaining wall cap

Back to Retaining Wall Outline 8 Steps