Build a Retaining Wall
There can be many instances where you may need to install retaining walls. Most of the time a retaining wall is installed to create a flat surface on properties with extreme slopes. Retaining walls are very complicated and require a lot of skill to install. This tutorial will act as a guide for building retaining walls up to 4 feet high.
If you are looking to install a retaining wall over four feet high you should definitely consider a professional. Any retaining wall over 4 feet high need to be designed by a structural engineer and be approved with the proper permits from your township.
Installation times for a retaining wall can vary greatly due to a number of factors. Straight walls take the shortest time to install taking approximately a week depending on the size. S-shaped serpentine walls take significantly more time because most of the pavers will need to be cut and shaped. By doing so you will add aesthetic appeal and provide sufficient support.
- John Deere 27D Excavator
- Plate Compactor
- Laser Level
- Cutoff Saw with a Water Attachment
- Garden Hose
- Spray Paint for Marking
- String Line
- Techo Block Retaining Wall Pavers
- Techo Block Base Block
- ¾ Road Stone – $20.00 per ton
- Concrete Adhesive
- Landscaping Fabric
Marking The Installation
Assuming you have made a design for your wall the first step is to mark the area where you are going to install the retaining wall. Use spray paint or other marking material to carefully mark the dimensions of the wall on your property.
Retaining walls require a lot of excavation work and you might want to consider using an excavator for the installation process. You will also need to fill in the area behind the wall after the installation to create a nice flat lawn. We use a John Deere 27D Excavator because it causes minimal turf damage.
For the base of the installation we use 3/4 inch road stone for its durability. Fill in the excavated area with the 3/4 inch road stone leaving about 4 inches unfilled. After laying the stone use a Bomag BP 25/50 Plate Compactor to compact the stone creating a solid foundation for your retaining wall.
Use a laser level and your compactor to make sure you have created a level base. Next you will want to set up some string line to make sure every base block is even and level with the other blocks.
Begin to lay the base blocks according to the design you have created. We recommend setting the base block at least 1 inch deep for every foot in height of the wall. If there is a slope in front of the retaining wall you will want to create a much deeper foundation and set the base blocks a few inches deeper.
Pro Tip: Do not walk on the foundation after you have compacted and leveled the area.
Installing The Retaining Wall
Begin laying the first layer of pavers for your retaining wall. For sloped properties start at the lowest point. Make sure each paver is even with the rest of the wall by using a level. You want to lay the remaining layers of pavers in a staggered pattern so each paver bridges the two stones below it. As you place pavers always push them forward to secure them into place.
Pro Tip: We recommend using Techo Block for its high density, strength and durability.
If it is a seating wall and seen from both sides we have to cut block to close up the radii so you dont see any gaps from either side. This process is very time consuming and has to be done with a wet saw – (refer to NJ illegal to cut dry)
Cutting Pavers To Finish Rows
When laying your retaining wall you may need to lay partial pavers to complete the row. To cut pavers to partial lengths mark the length you need on the pavers. Using a Stihl 420 Cut Off Saw with a water attachment to make all of the cuts. Make sure to wear eye protection and breathing mask. Cut the pavers to the correct length and place them on the retaining wall. Lastly, be sure you complete each row before starting the next.
As you continue to add new rows of pavers fill in the back of the paver wall with native soil and compact every four inches. Fill in the soil after you have completed the row before starting a new section. For taller walls use a granular back fill leaving about 6 inches between the pavers and the soil. This will assist with water drainage.
Pro Tip: To prevent soils from seeping through the front of the stones line that back of the wall with a weed block or landscape fabric.
Installing the Cap Stones
Install the cap pavers using adhesive cement to lock them into place.