how to build a backyard retaining wall

A retaining wall laterally holds back soil and materials to help reduce erosion on a hillside. When built properly, a retaining wall can add beauty while acting as a functional part of a yard. Many homeowners use the space behind and above the retaining wall to plant flowers, shrubs, or vegetables, or to level out and use it as an extended outdoor living space. Want to learn how to build a retaining wall? Use the following steps to build and install a retaining wall for small- or large-scale projects.

Consult With a Professional Landscape Designer

A landscape designer or architect can evaluate the lay of the land and soil materials to help design the most efficient retaining wall for the project. Using a professional landscape designer will help homeowners pick the best materials to use for the wall, both aesthetically and functionally. In addition, the homeowner will have peace of mind that they’re getting the best retaining wall design for their yard.

Gather Tools, Supplies, and Building Materials

After receiving the retaining wall design, the homeowner needs to assemble the items needed to construct the wall. Common items include:

  • A shovel.
  • Soil tamper.
  • A level.
  • Landscape fabric.
  • Stakes and strings.
  • Cutting tools.
  • Building materials. (ie stones, landscaping timbers, etc)
  • Paver base.
  • Gravel or sand for backfill.

Prepare the Area For Landscaping

Mark the area with strings and stakes to gain a visual of where the wall will go. Next, using the shovel, remove soil about 2 feet from where the wall will sit. Toss the landscape fabric over the remaining slope to reduce rock and soil from falling into the cleaned space.

Next, dig a trench about 4 to 6 inches deep for the first row of building materials. If the trench goes through sloping ground, use the construction level to step the trench up to keep the wall level. Add paver base to the trench, rake it evenly, and tamp it down with a soil tamper.

Build the Retaining Wall

Depending on the wall material, lay the first row of bricks, pavers, concrete blocks, or treated wood onto the paver base in the trench. Keep adding rows of material until the wall reaches the desired height.

Backfill the Retaining Wall With Sand and Gravel

After completion of the wall, backfill the space behind it with sand or gravel or a combination of both. When using sand alone, lay extra landscaping fabric between the wall and the sand to prevent the small particles of sand from seeping between the retaining wall’s material. Once laid out, tamp the material down to eliminate hollow spaces. Add topsoil or planting material to the top height of the wall.

Finish With Plants or a Flat Seating Area

Depending on the landscape design, add plants to the topsoil or create a flat space to add pavers or brick to create a sitting area. Add an irrigation system to complete the landscaped area behind the retaining wall.

Clients First Landscape Solutions is Plano’s premier landscaping company. From building retaining walls to commercial landscaping, Clients First Landscape Solutions offers a wide range of landscaping services for residential and commercial applications.