How to Build a Landscaping Retaining Wall

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Retaining walls make beautiful additions to gardens, patios and overall landscaping. It's a decorative-- and very popular-- way to organize a yard. It's also one of those projects almost any homeowner can do. It just takes some planning and patience. Read on to learn how to build a landscaping retaining wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Crushed rock
  • Concrete blocks
  • Landscape fabric (filter cloth)
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Spray paint
  • Clean rock
  • Hand chisel
  • Circular saw
  • Use a measuring tape to come up with dimensions and determine where you will build the retaining wall.

  • Determine the linear feet of the project, so you know how many concrete blocks to purchase.

  • Make sure the area where the retaining wall will be built is clearly marked. Using spray paint will help.

  • Use a shovel to dig a trench. Make sure the trench is wide enough to fit a block plus a couple inches for rock. It needs to be deep enough to partially bury the first row of concrete blocks. Usually this will be 8 to 12 inches below ground level.

  • Add at least one inch of crushed rock to the trench. This will help make the base firm.

  • Make sure the trench is level by shifting the amount of crushed rock, so the blocks will be straight. Make sure the crushed rock is compact.

  • Place blocks side by side along the trench, leveling each one as you go.

  • If your rock wall includes multiple layers, stack the blocks in an alternating pattern. You can choose to recess the blocks or stack them straight on top of each other.

  • Place landscaping fabric between the concrete blocks and the dirt. When it rains, the dirt will be filtered and will not get the blocks muddy.

  • Fill the extra space between the concrete blocks and the landscape fabric with clean rock.

  • For end pieces and odd shapes, cut the blocks using a hand chisel or circular saw.

Tips & Warnings

  • It’s best to build a wall three feet high or lower. For larger projects, hire a professional.
  • The taller the wall, the better it is to recess the blocks.
  • Be aware of nearby trees. Their roots could eventually cause your retaining wall to shift or fall.
  • Photo Credit lowes.com
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