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How to Build a Sturdy Retaining Wall

Aug 13, 2008
A retaining wall is a protective structure, first and foremost. It should be strongly built for steady support. But it can also serve as a decorative architectural element. It is this mix of beauty and functionality which any home addition should strive for.

While of course it is possible to hire a contractor to build something like this, there really is no reason as you can do this home project yourself and it will not take as long as you think and also it will save quite a few dollars when simple home additions are done on your own.

All one needs is a little drive and determination and make a plan and then stick to it. Before you know it your retaining wall will be built and you'll be full of confidence looking for the next home project.

The first thing to do is excavate the area where we plan to put up the retaining wall. If the area is downhill, be sure to grade the soil. Drive stakes of wood into the slope and stretch across them a masonry twine.

For the base trench, dig a ditch on the higher side of the wall. Fill the ditch of our retaining wall with different colored stones and then level using a rake. Have the stones compacted together with the use of a tamper.

For the first course, we place the first base of concrete over the stones for our retaining wall. To make sure the concrete is even on all sides use a torpedo level. Continue putting concrete while leveling out stones. Wear safety gloves.

When cutting the initial block into halves (for stronger grip and vertical joints placeholders) do so with the block of each even-numbered row. Use a sledgehammer for the purpose along with a brick chisel. This is for a stronger retaining wall.

With the second course--after cutting the initial block of even-numbered rows--put the second row. Step back each block just a bit off to make sure we are making a slight backward slope to somewhat push the thing that needs support. This is what a retaining wall is for.

Then, as the wall rises, compress the earth behind it. As we fill the rear portion with earth reinforce the wall with concrete the higher it goes. Between the wall and the earth fill should be more cement mixes to increase retaining wall material strength.

For our final grading, the higher the wall goes the farther the slope is from the wall top. Fill the gap with crushed stones topped with earth. The fill level should be some inches below the wall top.

When building the retaining wall alone, opt for interlocking blocks. Take care to refill the ditch or trench right after the base or footing or foundation layer is done.

Retaining walls are best for keeping slopes like small hills or mounds beside our houses from landsliding. They're perfect for garden landscaping and even for buttressing wall portions of our houses. Retaining wall concepts are also applied for chimney building.

Building a retaining wall helps keep our surrounding safe and supported. It keeps a steeply sloping terrain from collapsing.
About the Author
John Grant is a the author for a how to site where he is writing articles about how to build a retaining wall.
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