Retaining Wall: Build, Construction and Tips


Retaining Wall

What is a Retaining wall?

You may ask What is a retaining wall? A retaining wall is oftentimes built to provide support, prevent downslope movement or erosion, or hold back soil or rock from a structure or area. However, with their constructive purposes also come creative and design-influenced applications. A retaining wall is a wall that holds back or supports soil when the natural ground level has been altered.

When a person ‘cuts’ into the natural ground level, the soil on the high side is to be prevented from collapsing with the use of a wall. A retaining wall is a choice, not a necessity, it’s not like it’s the foundation of your house. Plus the tree was there first, so by building a wall there, you’re going to know the roots might affect it.

 A retaining wall is a structure that holds back soil or rock from a building, structure, or area. Retaining walls prevent downslope movement or erosion and provide support for vertical or near-vertical grade changes. A retaining wall is a functional feature of your landscape that, when constructed well, can be a thing of beauty. However, a poorly built wall will quickly become an eyesore, even if the best materials have been used.

A retaining wall is like a dam: The higher the wall and the heavier the soil behind it, the greater the pressure on the wall. Most retaining walls over 3 feet (2 feet in some areas) are thus subject to some kind of permit process; this is taken more seriously in areas of seismic activity, where walls must be able to withstand shock loads in addition to everything else.

A retaining wall is generally built to retain soil. However, walls can serve aesthetic functions as well. A retaining wall is built to stabilize and hold back soil and/or rock from downslope movement or erosion. Masonry, stone, brick, concrete, vinyl, steel, and timber are common materials used for retaining wall construction. A retaining wall is a wall built to rebut the pressure of the earth, either wet or dry. In designing such a wall it is necessary to ascertain the character of the material to be retained.

 A retaining wall is a stabilizing structure used to hold sloping ground in place and to prevent erosion and the movement of soil. A retaining wall must be substantial and sturdy in a structure to accommodate and redistribute lateral pressure caused by sloping. A retaining wall is required if adequate space is not available.

Maximum slope steepness is dictated by the quality of fill soil available and whether or not the slope will be protected with riprap to eliminate the need for mowing and other maintenance. A retaining wall is a large expanse of wood, stone, brick, or masonry. Although this may be desirable and attractive, you might want to soften the look by adding plants, yard ornamentation, or a combination of both.

Reinforced walls are usually greater than four feet tall and have special loading conditions present like slopes or surcharges. Reinforcing tie-backs, such as earth auger tie-backs, can be used with high retaining walls. The wall backfill is placed behind the wall for each layer of blocks.

Retaining Wall Construction

Retaining Wall: Build, Construction and Tips

Retaining Wall construction will bring beauty as well as function to every landscape. It could look difficult but it is a simple task that needs only simple skills. Unless you will be building a very large retaining wall, these small retaining walls can be quite easy to build.  With the newer pre-cast, lipped concrete retaining wall blocks, you’ll be able to construct an exquisite retaining wall that provides functionality and looks great. It is as simple as setting one block on top of another. Regardless if you are constructing a decorative border for a lawn or leveling a hill in your backyard, building a retaining wall can be the perfect touch.

There are lots of types as well as colors available and these do-it-yourself helpful methods may assist you in making professional results. As a homeowner, it is better to keep your wall 3 feet and lower, taller retaining walls might need particular reinforcements as well as permits several building codes necessitate walls above four feet to be designed via an engineer.

Listed below are the tools and materials you will need when building a retaining wall:


  • Landscape fabric
  • Gravel& Paver
  • Base
  • Drainpipe
  • Landscape blocks
  • Adhesive
  • Brick chisel
  • Caulking gun
  • Safety goggles
  • and Work gloves


  • Shovel
  • Tamper
  • Level
  • Saw
  • 3- pound
  • sledgehammer

Because these types of blocks interlock together, no mortar will be needed. Another benefit can be when you make an error or even change your mind about the design, just take it apart and start over. Firstly decide where you might put the new wall. You should utilize a garden hose in making a shape or even paint a line on the ground.

When you’ve got the rough shape, look for a block most appropriate for your shape you’ve chosen. Several types of blocks create curves simpler and different styles make corners simple. Keep the form of your wall in mind to pick your block. Get pamphlets as well as consult with the people in the Garden Department of your local do-it-yourself shop. You may also discover numerous helpful particulars online. You can estimate the number of blocks it’s going to take to create your wall.

You should allow for cutting or breakage. The shade of the blocks may change from batch to batch, therefore if you have to go back and purchase additional blocks, later on, they may not necessarily match up exactly. I advise getting an additional 10 % to be on the safe side.

Here’s The best way To Do It

The initial step in retaining wall construction should be to determine the size or area of the retaining wall by a linear foot. This will figure into the estimate of materials required later on. Mark off the area using a string line and allow for an additional room at the sides of the retaining wall blocks for a decent gravel base.

Estimate the materials needed, chose preferred retaining wall blocks, the size you choose may determine the number needed, for instance: if 12-inch blocks are used the number of times the linear foot needed is obvious. If 8 or 16-inch blocks are used, convert the total linear distance needed to inches and divide by 8 for an eight-inch block. Estimate base material- gravel(3/4 quarry process) for under retaining wall, use 4- 6-inch gravel base, more if retaining wall is higher in size.

Planning for great retaining wall construction of the base is the most important and will be one of the most time-consuming processes. Excavate by shovel or loader if available, use local digging laws to ensure that you avoid any buried cable. If possible use landscape fabric under gravel for better support and safeguard base from the soil. Some areas may need a deeper base (6 or more inches) because of poor soil or recently disturbed soil from new house construction. Next- get the gravel base in by wheelbarrow, shovel, loader, and rake it out to approximate level.

Grade the retaining wall base using a rake and 2X4 to get an even base where the wall is placed. The string line ought to be in place with a proper level set and the direction of the wall. So when the base is ready and compacted to the correct string level, all you have to do is line the rear flat side of the retaining wall blocks with the string and keep on placing blocks. When installing a string line, remember that the first course of blocks needs to be 3/4 buried for good support of the entire wall.

Use a plate compactor or a compaction device to get a good solid base for the wall. If the gravel is too dry, wet it down some using a garden hose to make it pack better. Grade additional times after each compaction until finished.

Lay the retaining wall blocks along the string line until the first layer is finished, be sure you have this first coarse secured perfectly, some bury the first layer almost entirely or 3/4 buried so the base is sturdy. When layer 1 is done, the following course is easier, up to the height you want to allow it to be. Use a landscape block adhesive between every course for additional strength.

Most retaining wall blocks may have to be cut to finish or match nicely to a foundation or other structure. Use a diamond blade chop saw to get a nice cut. measure block in place and cut on your marked line. Retaining wall caps are a good option to use, they add a better appearance and

will not allow weeds to grow between the joints on top of a wall. (depends on the type of block used) secure with a landscape block adhesive for added strength.

Finish the retaining wall construction by adding or backfill any more base material or black dirt in front or behind the wall, seed grass if needed. If the retaining wall is located in an area that water drainage is a concern, use a drain tile pipe along the back base of the wall and use a rock or water-friendly material for drainage purposes. Use this on the back of the retaining wall before black dirt or other soil is added.

Tip: Use Landscape Block Adhesive between each course of blocks, run a bead of caulk across the blocks, this will make the wall stronger and moisture will not leak through the blocks, they will be sealed.

How To Build A Retaining Wall?

Retaining wall construction may look complicated, but given the correct tools and aid from your neighborhood you could in fact form and develop up your retaining wall. Amongst the prevalent retaining wall supplies are stone (natural and precast), bricks, concrete, challenging wood, steel, or railroad ties. The material to make use of depends upon the purpose of one’s retaining wall. That is to say, you would like bigger stone blocks or concrete masonry if you’re leveling a steeply sloping yard, and you need smaller stone blocks if you are only building a backyard retaining wall.

Here’s How to Build a Retaining Wall to get a Raised Flower Mattress


1. Outline the form of the garden retaining wall: circular, rectangular, rectangular with curved edges, or what have you.

2. Mark your outline with spray paint or stake and ropes and measure the dimension.

3. Measure your favorite development store and order your customized pre-cast concrete stone block with a lip lock program that conforms to the shape of your respective retaining wall when assembled.

4. Dig about 12 inches deep trench ensuring that it’s as amount as achievable. Lay leveling sand or patio paver base within the trench compacting it with hand packer to make sure an amount strong foundation. Use your floor leveling tool to examine if the strong bottom is perfectly leveled.

5. Lay each foundation row block ensuring that it’s flat using a carpenter’s stage. Repeat the method till all bottom row blocks are laid before checking the stage again with a floor degree to verify if it is aligned and flawlessly flat. Completely leveling the bottom row saves you time later when you are laying the top rows.
Tip: Knock the flange off utilizing a chisel along with a mallet for the bottom blocks for straightforward leveling.

6. Lay the top rows together with the joints staggered together with the decrease row. You may perhaps require to cut a block in half working with a masonry wet saw to create this take place. Make sure that the lip at the back with the block interlocks with the top with the decrease row. Lay all the top rows to accomplish the desired height of the flower mattress and – voila – you just constructed your backyard retaining wall.


  • Install a perforated pipe for a greater retaining wall to make sure the correct drainage of one’s flower mattress.
  • Creating a retaining wall is created simpler with pre-cast stone blocks you can purchase from landscaping or house improvement stores. Now, there’s no excuse why you can’t add a focal point in your backyard with a retaining-wall-raised flower mattress.

Using Weathering Steel To Build Garden Retaining Wall

Weathering steel is also useful in building retaining walls, and can be a great alternative to concrete. Weathering steel comes in many types, but is primarily made of alloy, with the popular brand Corten already being synonymous with it, like a genericized trademark. This material is fabricated by combining steel and alloys, which gives the sheet’s surface a rusty look when exposed to elements. It also has an oxidized exterior coating that prevents the penetration of rust that causes damage to the interior layers. 

Because of its rustic appearance, this type of steel has become a favorite in outdoor construction projects, such as garden retaining walls and landscape architecture. So, if you’ve got a garden area you want to upgrade, you can try installing a corten steel retaining wall. 

Here are the benefits of corten steel retaining wall:

  • Soil load support: it’s load-bearing, durable, and can support all types of soil.
  • Water runoff management: when positioned strategically, it can redirect excess water flow and protect your land from being flooded and oversaturated.
  • Recyclable: easy to recycle, which makes them environmental

Weathering steel can be easily designed for use as a garden retaining wall. There are also metal fabrication companies that offer corten steel products specifically for use in gardening.

How to Flower the Foot of a Low Wall?

Flower Low Wall

In a garden often the question to decorate better way this strip of land left with the abandonment at the bottom of a low wall raises. Here some ideas which will help you there.

The Site of the Low Wall

According to its site, the low wall can overshadow the plants which will be with its foot, or on the contrary, collect all heat and restore it. Its exposure is thus to take into account the choice of the plants.

The nature of the ground has also its importance. Under this built space, the ground is often packed, of poor quality, it will thus have to be amended compost and of manure, if you wish to install greedy plants there.

Also think of the pH, because certain plants push only in acid soil (azaleas, Fcamellias…) whereas others appreciate the basic soil.

Do not forget to mix hardy perennials and annuals. The first will constitute the base of the decoration, the second will come to supplement them to vary the pleasures according to the seasons. Lastly, think of planting the highest plants at the bottom of a wall and low right in front of them so that they remain visible.

What to Plant at the Bottom of a Shaded Low Wall?

If the zone is shaded, plant a beautiful line of Hydrangeas that will illuminate their large pink, white, or blue pompoms. If the low wall is surmounted by a netting, you can replace them by climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea petiolaris) which will enchant you with their bunches of white flowers in summer.

Camellias or rhododendrons will get also perfectly the bargain especially in acid soil.

At the bottom of these shrubs, plant hostas, whose multiple varieties allow a very interesting camaieu of colors, or the hellébore which will flower in winter. You can also install ferns or heuchères to exploit the texture of the foliages.

To give peps to your low wall in summer, add some plans of impatiens of New Guinea to the flowers delicately iridescent.

What to Plant at the Bottom of a Low Wall in Full Sun?

If you wish to decorate the foot of your low wall of the rose tree, think of improving the ground before the plantation with good organic manure. According to the height of the low wall, plant rose tree bushes, or rose trees floor covering, there exists about it of all the colors and for all the tastes.

If you do not have that little time to grant to your garden think of the graminaceous ones! Stupas, sedge, blue fescue, miscanthus will be satisfied with a ground poor and dry and will not require almost any maintenance to you while giving movement to your decoration!

Also think of the long-lived geranium rustic good, which with time forms very beautiful cushions of blue flowers, pink or mauve according to the variety. This plant easy to live in will give you only satisfaction.

In the USA, the foot of a low wall is a very hot zone especially if it is Southern full talk. An edge of sisal plants can appear better effect, just like the plantation of Aloes which will make you the surprise flower in winter or of aeoniums always surprising by the shape of their rivet washers of sheets.

All these fatty plants are declined into cubes of multiple species and cultivars, which will enable you to vary the pleasures. With their feet, Gazanias, vervains, or petunias will come to color the table in summer.

You can also border your wall of aromatic plants like the lavender, rosemary, the hélichrysum, or the sage, the underlined whole of a thyme edge; the pollinating insects will be charmed!

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