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How to build a retaining wall

By: Garden Gate staff
If your front yard is built on a slope, leveling it out and adding a garden full of flowers creates a lot of curb appeal.

Click to see a larger illustration.

how to build a
retaining wall

If your front yard is built on a slope, leveling it out and adding a garden full of flowers creates a lot of curb appeal. Building a small retaining wall isn’t as complicated as you might think. Here are a few building basics.

Retaining walls under 3 ft. tall can be simple to build. While railroad ties used to be the material of choice, these days it’s landscape blocks. And installation is even easier with the small lip on the back of the blocks, which makes positioning them a no-brainer.

For a stable foundation, place the first row of block just below soil level on a base of crushed limestone as in the illustration. The limestone is small, and tamping it down compacts the stone, which prevents shifting. As you add each row of blocks, fill in behind it with larger 3/4-in. gravel. This helps water drain and prevents damage to the wall caused by freezing and thawing. Tamp each layer as you go to prevent settling. Then, to give your plants’ roots room to grow, top it off with 10 to 12 in. of soil.

For lots of other easy weekend projects, check out Easy Weekend, Volume 3 at right!

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