Welcome back to Masonry Mondays! Each week we’ll share a bit of industry information, a best practice, or a design tip to help YOU become more knowledgeable about the products we sell!

Today, let’s talk about retaining walls. They add a beautiful accent piece to any yard or patio, and are a great way to make your home stand out. Plus, retaining walls are infinitely customizable, resulting in a beautiful design that reflects your creativity!

Building a strong base is one of the most important ways to create a beautiful retaining wall. Most retaining walls don’t require a concrete footing, meaning that installation is accessible to a do-it-yourself-er. Instead of concrete, a retaining wall uses a base of crushed, compacted gravel. It’s important to use angular stones here, instead of pea gravel because compaction is the most important attribute of a good base. The gravel should start 9″ below the surface of the ground, and extend up so that 3″ of your first course should be buried.

Once you have a base assembled, it’s time to lay the first course of retaining wall. Position the wall blocks in the trench where your base gravel is, and make sure each block is level. This is incredibly important, because as you add rows, any irregularities in the base layer will compound and be more apparent.

Rows should be interlocking, like legos, rather than aligned. This provides a structural integrity that cannot be matched by walls made from aligned materials.

Go ahead and backfill soil as you add rows. Backfill happen every 12″ in vertical height and fill an open area at least 18″ behind the wall. This provides a sturdy soil barrier that helps the retaining wall maintain its shape and structural integrity.

Once you have reached the final height of your wall, add a layer of coping block along the top of the wall. Sometimes we call these caps. Caps give an opportunity to provide an accent piece, a clean termination, and/or a rustic touch to your retaining wall. Caps should be placed along the top of the wall and glued down with concrete adhesive.

All in all, retaining walls are incredibly attainable for the average do-it-yourself-er, and they can provide a space for creative expression in landscaping. Best of all, Warsaw Masonry has the knowledge and material to guide you through the process. Feel free to stop by or call us with any questions (574) 267-2825!