How to Block a Retaining Wall


Placing blocks for a retaining wall requires a good degree of precision and skill, but with a few simple tips it can be done by anyone. It is important to plan the height and length of the wall before placing your blocks. The higher you go, the more chance for your wall to lean one way or the other. To successfully block a retaining wall, you must build a strong foundation and carefully level each block.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pick
  • Pea gravel
  • Leveling sand
  • Rubber mallet
  • Soil tamper
  • Carpenter's level
  • Dig a trench for your retaining wall that is about 6 to 7 inches deep (for a 4-inch block) and 12 inches wide.

  • Tamp the soil flat and then shovel two inches of pea gravel into your trench. Tamp the pea gravel flat as well.

  • Place an inch of leveling sand on top of the pea gravel. Tamp the sand flat with the soil tamper.

  • Set a rock on top of the flattened sand--starting at one end of the retaining wall--and place the level on top of the rock, making note of the angle.

  • Manipulate the sand beneath the rock or tap the rock with the rubber mallet until it is level. Be sure to tamp the sand each time you add or remove it.

  • Fill the area directly behind the rock with more pea gravel to add reinforcement.

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  • Photo Credit old rock wall image by Chad McDermott from
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