How To Build A Garden Retaining Wall




Retaining wall helps to hold sand, dirt, rock and water in place to avoid displacement or erosion. Houses which are having slope backyard is not suitable for making patios, kids play area, pool etc as most of these structures require leveled surface.

Retaining wall is a solution to the slope backyards and also some gardens require retaining walls to prepare flower beds or to implement certain landscaping structures. Retaining walls can be made of steel, stone, vinyl, brick, concrete, metal, wood etc.

The most popular types of retaining walls are of wood or with single piece concrete wall. Because of the environmental friendly or easy to handle nature, the segmental walls are also widely used. Among the different types of retaining wall the one that is made of concrete have more stability and durability.


An important aspect to be considered while designing and constructing a retaining wall is that the lateral pressure of the earth should be less at the top of the wall and if the pressure is too high, it may lead to the collapse of the wall.

Ground water which may get accumulated behind the wall should be properly dissipated through drainage else it may create hydrostatic pressure on the wall leading to its collapse. Proper drainage reduces the hydrostatic pressure and provides good stability for the materials behind the wall.

Difficulty Level

Building a retaining wall is really a challenging work that requires good patience and hard work but is really a feting job.


  • First of all lay out the area where the retaining wall has to be constructed and if it’s a straight wall, then plant two stakes at the edges of the wall and tie a string on the stakes to mark the entire length of the wall.
  • Excavate the area where the retaining wall has to be constructed with a shovel to a depth of six inches and width of 18 inches and level the bottom surface. Put paver base along the bottom and compact it with a tamper to level the bottom surface. Check the surface with a level and grade the area along the downhill side of the wall.
  • Plant stakes along the length of the wall and tie a string tight on the stakes to ensure that the wall that is being constructed is straight. This twine should be around six inches above the grade and must be attached with a line leveler which in turn helps to level the string by moving one end of the string up on down.
  • If the retaining wall requires some other shapes such as a curving wall, then use a garden hose or rope and position the hose to guide the area to be excavated. Thereafter mark the design with some colored powder and take the hose back.
  • Now fill the 6 inch deep and 18 inch wide leveled trench with gravel or crushed stone. Level and compress the gravel with the help of a tamper and use a straightedge to make sure that the gravel footing is level. Thereafter place the first course concrete unit or wooden unit on the stones at calculated distance from the string. If it’s a concrete block then tap it with a rubber mallet to embed it in the gravel and thereafter place a two foot level on top of the block to ensure that the block that is placed is leveled.
  • If it’s not then add some stone dust underneath the block to make it leveled. Arrange the remaining units in line with the first unit to complete the first course and ensure that all the units are in line and leveled. Put stone dust or dirt to fill the gaps between the blocks.
  • Lay the second course of stones on top of the first and start with a half sized stone so as to get a running bond pattern. In order to cut the stone in to half, mark a line on the center of the flat surface of the stone with a mason’s chisel. Then keep the chisel in the middle of the block and then tap it with a hammer to split the block.
  • Stack the second layer in such a way that there should be one inch space in front of the second course of units over the first course of units. Care should be taken to apply masonry adhesive above the first course of stones and along the entire length of the wall. This can be achieved with the help of a caulk gun filled with masonry adhesive. Continue the second layer with full size blocks and use the half sized block at the other end.
  • Lay drainage pipes while securing the second course. For laying pipes first dig out the soil beneath the first course unit and lay gravel on which the drainage pipe rests. Then cover the pipes using gravel and then with soil. This drainage pipes protect the wall from the standing water.
  • Continue arranging the third layer of stones and it can start with full size concrete blocks to maintain the running bond pattern. Place the concrete blocks till the desired height is reached and for aesthetic purpose one can also use capstones on the top layer of the wall. Check from the front, back and side to side to make sure that the wall is in straight line.
  • After reaching the desired height of the retaining wall keep the landscaping fabric against the stone units so as to avoid the dirt from pushing through the stones. Thereafter backfill the trench with crushed stone and soil behind the wall and reinforce the soil there and level off the area around the wall with the top soil.
  • While working use good quality gloves and boots to care the hands and feet and extra care should be taken while using chisel and hammer to avoid accidents. Constructing a retaining wall is a tiring job but once it’s completed then it will inspire the person to build a beautiful garden. One can easily create flower beds or plant herbs or other landscaping components with in the retaining wall.
  • Photo Credit: zsh themes - all about z shell and oh-my-zsh themes

    How To Build A Garden Retaining Wall

    How To Build A Garden Retaining Wall

    Retaining wall helps to hold sand, dirt, rock and water in place to avoid displacement or erosion. Houses which are having slope backyard is not suitable for





    How To Build A Garden Retaining Wall
    How To Build A Garden Retaining Wall

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