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Retaining Wall Construction Building A Block Retaining Wall


A block retaining wall can dress up the landscape. Equipment Needed. Tools. Chisel. 3 lb. ... Most concrete blocks interlock and require no mortar. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Retaining Wall Construction Building A Block Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall Construction Building A Block
Retaining Wall
  • Developed by
  • Dr. Teri Hamlin
  • Georgia Department of Education

  • To level a steep slope
  • Enclose an area for a decorative garden
  • Elevate Beds

A block retaining wall can dress up the
Equipment Needed
  • Tools
  • Chisel
  • 3 lb. sledgehammer
  • Torpedo level
  • Line blocks
  • Mason's line
  • Line level
  • Flat-pointed shovel
  • Hand tamper
  •  Materials     
  • Retaining wall blocks
  • Porous plastic landscape fabric
  • Gravel (optional)

AdvantagesConcrete Interlocking Blocks
  • Most concrete blocks interlock and require no
  • If you make mistakes or change your mind about
    the location or shape of your wall, just
    dismantle it and start over.

Each block has a lip that locks it to the
previous row.
  • Terraces with low walls
  • Using a system of terraces, you can create a
    pleasant, stepped slope that is safer than a
    single, tall wall.

How These Block Systems Work
  • Mortarless systems have a lip on the bottom rear
    side to lock the blocks together and create a
    step effect
  • When the cavity behind the wall is filled with
    soil, the blocks are pushed forward,
    strengthening the joints between the lips and the
    underlying blocks

How many do I need?
  • Determine the height and width of the wall. 
  • Calculate the square footage of the wall by
    multiplying the estimated length by the estimated
    height (which should include the base course) of
    the wall.
  • Example 25' L x 2' H 50 sq/ft.
  • number of blocks you need depends on the pattern
    you choose and the square footage of the wall
    above grade.

How many do I need?
  • Number of blocks needed depends on the pattern
    you choose and the square footage of the wall
    above grade
  • Example
  • Each block covers approximately 1/3 of a sq/ft
    (.33), therefore, for 50 sq/ft you will need
    approximately 152 blocks. (50 divided by .33
    sq/ft per block)

Getting Started
  • When figuring how many blocks you'll need for
    your wall, remember that curves require more
    blocks than straight runs.

How many blocks do I need for a curve?
  • The number of blocks needed will depend on the
    style of block used and the size of the curve.
  • The formula to calculate the number of blocks
    needed for a specific curve is
  • (2 x 3.14 x radius of curve) divided by the width
    of block. 
  • The radius needs to be measured in inches (number
    of feet x 12").
  • Example One course of a 10' diameter tree ring.
    Radius is 5' x 12" 60".

Getting Started
  • To accurately cut a block, score a line around it
    with a 3 1/2" brick chisel and a 3 lb.
  • Place the cutting edge of the chisel in the
    center of the score line and strike the chisel
    sharply with the sledgehammer.

Use a brick chisel to score and cut your block.
Dig the Trench
  • Measure out your prospective wall, using stakes
    and string to mark off the key points, or use a
    garden hose to mark off its perimeter.
  • Starting at the lowest point, use a flat-pointed
    shovel to dig a trench for the foundation course.
    The dimensions of the trench will vary depending
    on the size of your block, but the foundation
    course should be below ground level.
  • Tamp the trench with a hand tamper to compact the
    underlying soil.

Sloping Property
  • If your property slopes, you may have to dig your
    foundation trench in a series of steps equal to
    the height of the blocks.
  • As you continue with construction, build up the
    lower sections with block until the stepped areas
    accept successive courses of blocks in a level
    and seamless wall.

Lay the Courses
  • Set the first block in place.
  • Check for level. If the block isn't level, tap it
    with the butt end of your sledgehammer to adjust

Check the level of the foundation course before
you start the second course.
Lay the Courses
  • If your property is relatively flat, continue
    laying the foundation course, making sure that
    all blocks are level with each other and below
  • If not, use the stepped approach mentioned in
    previous slide.

Lay the Courses
  • After the entire foundation course is installed,
    set one block in position at each end of the
    foundation course.
  • The lip of each block should fit against the back
    of the foundation course block.
  • Use a pair of line blocks and a line level to
    make sure that the first and last blocks are
    level with each other.
  • If they are not, adjust the retaining wall blocks
    until the foundation course is completely level.

Lay the Courses
  • Cut one block in half for the start of the second
  • This will ensure that the first and second
    courses are staggered.
  • Set the rest of the second course blocks in place
    and then fill the trench around the foundation
    course with soil.
  • Continue placing the blocks, making sure each
    course is staggered over the previous one.

Fill the Cavity
  • To prevent the soil from seeping through the
    spaces between the blocks, line the cavity behind
    the wall with porous, plastic landscape fabric.

Fill the Cavity
  • Start at the base of the cavity and unroll the
    fabric until it overlaps the top course of block.
  • Cut the fabric and continue along the length of
    the wall until the entire cavity is lined.

Completing the Job
  • Fill the cavity.
  • If the wall is 2 1/2' or higher, fill the area
    closest to the block with gravel. You should have
    gravel to a width of about 6" from the block. The
    rest of the cavity can be filled with soil. This
    will facilitate drainage.
  • Trim the excess landscape fabric. You can top off
    the terraces with decorative stone or mulch.