How to Build a Retaining Wall

Length of Clip: 0:55
While retaining walls are commonly used for holding back soil and preventing water damage to your landscape, they can also provide an aesthetically appealing look to your patio or outdoor space. Retaining walls are usually built with sturdy materials like stone, brick or wood, and can consist of one or multiple tiers depending on yard design and needs.
 
Aside from building materials, there are multiple factors that should be considered when building a DIY retaining wall - like location and the overall height of your wall.
 
With so many options and ideas, these DIY tips will help you build a retaining wall that reflects your own style and serves the needs of your yard.

Instructions

Step 1:
Pick the spot where you want to build your wall. Like most structures, your retaining wall will need a footer. Check your local building codes to determine how far down to dig the base of your footer. Your footer should lie below the frost line to prevent movement and heaving. For many northern states, that could be as deep as 60 inches. For some southern states, it could be as little as 5 inches.
 
Step 2:
Before you begin building, make sure the trench you dug is mostly level, then build a frame for your footer.
 
Step 3:
Once you have built the frame, mix your concrete. Using slightly less water will create a drier mix and prevent excess concrete from seeping through the frame. Using a drier mix, however, will also make the concrete set faster, so you will have to work quickly. Use a trowel to smooth the top of the footer and check that it is level before allowing it to dry.
 
Step 4:
If you plan to reuse stones from somewhere in your yard, thoroughly clean off any moss, dirt or other debris. This will ensure a better bond with the mortar and ensure your wall is stable. A pressure washer is an effective tool for removing this kind of debris.
 
Step 5:
Once the concrete footer is completely dry, mix your mortar and apply a 1-inch layer to the top of the footer. Place the first layer of stones on the mortar, making sure they butt up against each other. After finishing a row, go back through and fill the gaps with mortar.
 
Step 6:
When you complete a row, place a new layer of mortar over the top and begin stacking your next row. To make the wall more stable, do not stack the stones in vertical columns. Each row should be offset from the one below to ensure the stability of the wall. 
 
Step 7:
After you finish building the wall, allow it to cure for 24 hours. Then backfill with soil to level the hill or raised area you wish to retain.

 

 


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