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How To Build A Retaining Wall for your Landscaping Spaces

Are you looking to add some structure and functionality to your outdoor space? Building a retaining wall might just be the solution you need. 

Whether you want to create a terraced garden, prevent soil erosion, or level out a sloped area, a retaining wall can serve as a practical and aesthetically pleasing addition to your landscape.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of building a retaining wall, from understanding its purpose to constructing and finishing it.

Understanding the Purpose of a Retaining Wall

So, you’re interested in building a retaining wall, but do you really understand why you need one? Well, let me break it down for you.

The purpose of a retaining wall is to hold back soil or other materials and prevent erosion. It’s like a strong barrier that keeps everything in place, especially in areas with sloping land or uneven ground. 

Without a retaining wall, you could be facing potential problems such as soil erosion, sinkholes, or even damage to your property. So, it’s important to understand the purpose of a retaining wall before you start building one.

One of the key benefits of a retaining wall is that it helps to create more usable space on your property. 

By holding back soil and leveling out the ground, you can effectively expand your outdoor living area or create terraced gardens.

It’s a great solution if you have a sloping yard and want to maximize the usable space.

Additionally, a well-built retaining wall can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your property.

With various materials and designs available, you can choose a retaining wall that complements your landscape and adds visual interest. 

So, understanding the purpose of a retaining wall is crucial as it not only serves a functional purpose but also adds value and beauty to your property.

Planning and Designing Your Retaining Wall

First, envision the ideal structure that will support your landscape and prevent soil erosion. Consider the height and length of your retaining wall, as well as the type of materials you want to use. 

Do you want a simple and functional wall, or do you prefer a more decorative and visually appealing design?

Take into account the natural slope of your landscape and any potential drainage issues that may need to be addressed.

It’s important to plan ahead and determine the purpose of your retaining wall, whether it’s to level out your yard, create more usable space, or enhance the overall aesthetics of your outdoor area.

Once you have a clear vision in mind, it’s time to start designing your retaining wall.

Measure the length and height of the area where you plan to build the wall, and mark the boundaries with stakes and string. 

This will give you a visual representation of how the wall will fit into your landscape.

Consider using design software or consulting with a professional to create a detailed plan that includes all the necessary dimensions and materials. 

Additionally, take into account any local building codes or regulations that may apply to your project.

By carefully planning and designing your retaining wall, you can ensure that it not only meets your needs but also adds beauty and functionality to your outdoor space.

Gathering the Necessary Materials and Tools

Once you’ve envisioned your ideal landscape structure, it’s time to gather all the necessary materials and tools to bring your vision to life.

Start by making a list of the materials you will need. This typically includes bricks or concrete blocks for the wall, gravel for the base, and a drainage pipe for proper water flow.

You may also need geotextile fabric to prevent soil erosion behind the wall.

Visit your local hardware store or home improvement center to purchase these materials.

In addition to the materials, you’ll need a few essential tools to build your retaining wall. A shovel will be necessary for digging the trench and leveling the base. 

A wheelbarrow will come in handy for transporting heavy materials such as bricks or concrete blocks.

You’ll also need a tape measure to ensure accurate measurements and a level to ensure the wall is straight. 

Finally, a rubber mallet or a hammer and a block of wood will be needed to align and secure the bricks or concrete blocks in place.

With all the necessary materials and tools in hand, you’re now ready to start building your retaining wall.

Building the Foundation and Base of the Retaining Wall

Now that you have all the necessary materials and tools, it’s time to lay the foundation and create a solid base for your landscape structure.

Start by marking the area where you want to build the retaining wall. Use a string or a garden hose to outline the shape of the wall.

This will help you visualize the final result and ensure that you’re building in the right location.

Next, you need to excavate the area within the outline. Dig a trench that’s at least 6 inches deep and wide enough to accommodate the width of your chosen retaining wall blocks.

Make sure the trench is level by using a level tool and adjusting the depth accordingly.

Once the trench is dug, it’s time to add a layer of gravel to create a stable base for your retaining wall. 

Spread a 2-inch layer of gravel evenly along the bottom of the trench. Use a tamper to compact the gravel and create a solid surface.

This’ll help prevent the wall from sinking or shifting over time.

After the gravel layer is in place, add a layer of sand on top. This’ll provide additional stability and help with drainage.

Again, use a tamper to compact the sand and ensure a level surface.

Once the foundation and base are properly prepared, you’re ready to start building the actual retaining wall.

Constructing and Finishing the Retaining Wall

To successfully construct and finish your retaining wall, you’ll need to carefully stack the chosen blocks, ensuring they’re tightly interlocked to create a sturdy and visually appealing structure.

Start by placing the first row of blocks on the prepared foundation, making sure they’re level and aligned.

Use a rubber mallet to tap each block into place, ensuring they’re snugly fit together.

As you continue to stack the blocks, periodically check for levelness and adjust as needed. It’s important to maintain a consistent pattern and spacing between the blocks to create a uniform look.

Once the blocks are stacked to the desired height, it’s time to finish the retaining wall.

Fill the space behind the wall with gravel or crushed stone, which’ll provide drainage and stability.

Use a shovel to carefully backfill the area, ensuring the material is evenly distributed.

Compact the backfill with a tamper or plate compactor to further enhance stability. Finally, add a top cap or coping to the retaining wall for a polished and finished appearance.

This cap can be made of the same material as the blocks or a contrasting material for added visual interest.

Secure the cap in place using construction adhesive, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

With these steps, you’ll have a well-constructed and visually appealing retaining wall that’ll serve its purpose for years to come.


In conclusion, building a retaining wall for your landscaping spaces is easy if you follow the steps described above.

With the help of a few tools and materials, anyone can build a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing retaining wall in no time. 

Through careful research, planning, measuring and attachment, you should be able to build an impressive retaining wall without having to pay for expensive contractors.

Moreover, DIY retaining walls are usually much cheaper than their professional equivalents. 

If you ever find yourself in need of guidance during this progressive journey, remember that at Big Easy Landscaping we’re always here to help! 

Our experienced crews have been perfecting our craft for years on commercial properties all over the New Orleans area.

So if you want expert advice but don’t want to break the bank ‑ contact us today!

We’ll send out a quote quickly and get you started on creating the most impressive-looking backyard around.

Call Us Today! 504-229-6519
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