Retaining walls are a great aesthetic addition to your property in addition to providing necessary support for erosion. If you're looking for options to provide some reinforcement and support to your yard, a retaining wall may be the best choice. Whether you're dealing with a shift in elevation across the yard or you have concerns about soil erosion, the extra stability can be beneficial. If you've decided that you're ready to install a block wall for retention, make sure you understand the basics to get solid construction. Here's a look at the fundamentals to help you get a stable, strong block wall that will look great, too.
Make a Plan
Don't start building a retaining wall of any kind without having a plan in place. Start by mapping out the path with wooden stakes or metal posts so that you know exactly where it's going to go. Drive stakes into the ground every few feet along the route where you want to install the wall. Tie some string, marking tape or rope to the posts, making a solid line along the rock wall's intended path.
Dig it Out
After you've gotten the entire path of the wall mapped out, it's time to dig. You need to dig a trench to build the foundation of the wall. Work along the entire path of the markers and dig deep enough to put the bottom row of blocks completely underground. Widen the trench enough that you have a couple of inches of space on either side of the blocks once they're in place.
You can dig the trench by hand if you want to, but working with an excavation contractor may simplify the process and help you level out the bottom for a solid base to build up from.
Create the Foundation
As soon as the trench has been excavated, create the base foundation for the wall. Spread an even layer of paver base or gravel dust in the bottom of the trench so that it's a few inches deep. Then, put an even layer of blocks across the bottom of the trench. Position the blocks against each other to create a stable base layer. Then, hit each block with a rubber mallet to help it settle into position.
Finish the Wall
Create a second layer of blocks by staggering your block placement. The goal is to put the blocks for the second layer off-center as compared to the blocks from the first layer. This offset design gives you more stability to the wall. Help the bricks stay secure in place by spreading a small amount of masonry concrete on the bottom of each block before you put it into position. Then, tap it down with the rubber mallet so that it's secure.
Continue these steps until the wall is the height you want. Once the wall is tall enough, fill in the gaps around the wall with gravel or a back fill product. Pack everything down with a tamper so that the wall has added support. An excavation contractor, like Joe Frei Excavating, may be able to help you fill in the gaps quickly and easily.