8 Tips on Building Concrete Retaining Walls

If you’ve decided to install concrete block retaining walls outside your residence or business, there are many factors to consider. You’ll want to be careful and deliberate about the specifications and requirements that come with your design, just like you would when building any important structure, like a bridge.

Photo by Simon Matzinger from Pexels

Below, we’ll cover some important tips to keep in mind to get the most out of your concrete block retaining walls.

1. Enhance your outdoor lifestyle

Not only are retaining walls utility pieces used to hold back soil, but they also add decorative flair to your outdoor space as well. Use them to divide your outdoor living spaces into multiple sections for different uses. Perhaps one side becomes a garden, and the other is transformed into a private patio with a fire pit.

2. Choose creative designs

Although interlocking concrete blocks are very popular and functional, there are other methods to consider. Using stone blocks, add a curve to the design of your wall. This will add texture to your landscaping.

3. Size and permits matter

Always keep in mind the size of your planned retaining wall. Walls less than four feet in height can be self-installed without many issues. If your retaining wall will be taller than four feet, you’ll need to consult local codes before building.

4. Pre-manufactured blocks are easier 

Manufactured interlocking concrete blocks and stones offer more structural integrity to retaining walls. They also give you an easy base to work with. This means there’s less guesswork when installing your retaining wall. You’ll also have less to check when making sure your wall is level.

You should also look for concrete materials made from upcycled materials. Based on Envirocon’s stock, you have the opportunity to recycle with your retaining walls and reduce your impace on the planet.

5. Establish a solid base

When starting your retaining wall, you’ll need to make sure you have a solid base:

-Start by digging out your base several inches below level grade. Compact it to where it’s level.

-From there, add any filler you’re using like gravel or crushed rock.

-After this step, you can add your first concrete blocks or stones.

The base of your retaining wall establishes the structure for the entire wall, so make sure to devote time and attention to this crucial step.

6. Always plan for drainage

If your retaining wall features a slope, it will need additional draining at its base. To do this, you’ll need to add gravel and a drainage pipe located at the base.

To prevent any clogging of the pipe, you can put a fabric cover over the opening of the pipe. This prevents you from needing to dig out the pipe in the future to clear any clogs.

7. Keep it level

At each row of concrete blocks and stones, always check that they are level before moving onto the next row. This is necessary to maintain a balanced and sturdy retaining wall. Plus, you don’t want the eyesore of a crooked wall.

8. Add support through back-filling

As you build your retaining wall, a way to add support is through back-filling. Backfill is known as the dirt, gravel, or sand that’s behind the interlocking concrete blocks. Whichever material you choose, be sure to pack it in tightly so you don’t worry about settling later.

The Takeaway

When planning to build any concrete block retaining walls, there must be a careful amount of preplanning. Attention to detail, structure, and leveling will ensure that your retaining wall remains safe and intact.

Whether you’re using stones or interlocking concrete blocks, be sure to pay attention to building codes, and call in the professionals for larger projects!

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