How to Build Rock Retaining Walls

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Garden retaining walls add charm and value to your home. Build a wall yourself at a fraction of the cost you would pay a contractor. Place retaining walls to cover electric meters and cables on the side of your home, to help with drainage or just to add simple decoration. Install a retaining wall by outlining the wall area, digging your trench and installing the rocks.

Things You'll Need

  • Rebar
  • Garden hose
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Pick
  • Soil tamper
  • Short-length level
  • Pea gravel
  • Leveling sand
  • Decorative stones
  • Rubber mallet
  • Chisel
  • Wet saw, equipped with a masonry blade
  • Mark the area of the retaining wall with a garden hose or by hammering in rebar to mark the edges. Ensure the wall is straight by measuring the distance of the wall from a point of reference such as your home.

  • Dig a shallow ditch inside the marked area. The ditch should be 2 or 3 inches deeper than the height of your rock and approximately 12 inches wide.

  • Shovel 1 or 2 inches of pea gravel into the ditch, tamping the gravel flat with a soil tamper.

  • Add 1 inch of leveling sand atop the pea gravel.

  • Place a decorative stone near the edge of your planned retaining wall on the leveling sand. If your retaining wall is lower at one end, start there.

  • Place a level atop the stone and determine where the block needs to be leveled. Use the rubber mallet to pound the stone edges or adjust the sand until the stone is level.

  • Continue to place and level stones until the first row of stones is complete.

  • Place a second staggered row of stones atop the first row, and shave off the edges of stones where necessary with the mallet and chisel or a wet saw equipped with a masonry blade.

  • Continue placing and staggering rows until the wall is the height you desire.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure the first level of stones is perfectly level as it will determine whether or not your wall remains straight.

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References

  • Photo Credit massive retaining wall image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com
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