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How to Create a Retaining Wall to Preserve Your Property

How to Create a Retaining Wall to Preserve Your Property

If you have sloping soil on your property or your landscaping has dips and rises that can easily wash into driveways, sidewalks, and patio spaces, you may be in need of a retaining wall. A retaining wall protects your property by:

  • Holding soil in place
  • Preventing erosion
  • Preserving your landscaping
  • Saving you time and money related to restoring washed away soil

A retaining wall can also serve as an attractive addition to your home or office, adding character and beauty to your landscaping. In many ways, adding a retaining wall is a smart, practical investment as well as an aesthetic one.

Creating a Retaining Wall for Your Property

For those who love a DIY project, installing a retaining wall yourself is something to consider. With careful attention to detail, it is possible to construct a retaining wall that works well and looks lovely. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Define your needs and preferences

Before constructing your retaining wall, consider questions such as these:

  • What is your budget for building the wall?
  • Do you want to keep the wall as simple as possible? Or would you like to use decorative, stamped concrete to add beauty?
  • How high and long does the wall need to be to keep your soil in place?
  • How much time and patience do you have to construct a wall yourself? Would it be wiser to hire a professional to do it for you?
  • What special considerations do you need to take into account before you build?

2. Look at examples of existing work

Browse the internet, magazines, and even other properties in your area to see different types of walls. Consider what you like, what you must have, and what you don’t want before you begin constructing the retaining wall.

3. Assemble tools and materials

If you plan to build the wall yourself, you’ll need the right equipment:

  • Tools —shovels, a level, caulking gun, measuring tape, wheelbarrow, rakes, hand tamper, and a rubber mallet
  • Materials — gravel, concrete blocks, drainage pipe, concrete adhesive, drainage sleeve, and capstone blocks

Keep in mind that this is a beginning list of items to assemble. Other tools and materials may become necessary, depending on how the building process goes.

4. Mark the ground

Clearly mark the place where you will install your retaining wall:

  • Drive stakes into the ground at each endpoint of the wall.
  • Attach string from stake to stake to outline the wall.

This will help you build a wall that is in the exact shape and location that you intend it to be.

5. Set the base

Before laying any of the concrete blocks, you must set a base between the soil and the blocks that will hold the blocks firmly in place.

  • Dig out the place where the wall will go to a depth of 8 inches.
  • Lay gravel into the excavated trench, about 4 inches deep.
  • Rake the gravel so it is smooth and evenly placed.
  • With the hand tamper, pound the gravel down so the whole area is compact and even.
  • Use the level to ensure the base is precise. If necessary, add or remove gravel to create a level base.

6. Lay the first row of blocks

Set one layer of concrete blocks on top of the base. Be sure that:

  • The top side of the block is facing upward.
  • Any decorative features are properly facing front.
  • Check the alignment and the level of the blocks as you work.
  • Use a rubber mallet to tap blocks into place as needed.
  • Fill the cores of the blocks with gravel.

7. Install drainage

To ensure proper drainage:

  • Place a drainage pipe behind the first layer of concrete blocks.
  • Make sure the pipe runs to where water can safely drain away.
  • Cover the pipe in a drain sleeve to prevent sediment from clogging the pipe.

8. Build the remaining block layers

Begin building the remaining layers of the wall. As you do so:

  • Make sure each layer of blocks is level.
  • Fill the cores of each block with crushed gravel before placing the next layer.
  • Cover the drainage pipe with gravel and then soil.
  • Continue the process of layering blocks and adding soil behind the wall until the wall is at the desired height.

9. Add capstones

Polish the look of your retaining wall by applying capstone blocks to the top of the wall.

  • Use concrete adhesive and a caulking gun to secure the capstones.
  • Press down on the blocks to cause the adhesive to set.
  • Give the adhesive time to dry.

Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Hiring a Professional Concrete Company

While building a retaining wall is a project you can opt to do on your own, hiring a skilled concrete company to handle the task for you is much easier and saves you valuable time. Having a professional concrete company perform the task of creating a retaining wall improves the process by:

  • Assuring the wall is constructed properly the first time around
  • Spotting any special features of your property that need addressing in ways you might miss
  • Freeing you up to enjoy your home or business, without adding significantly to what you’ll spend to construct the wall

We know that caring for your property can be a time-consuming process, but choosing the right partner to help you can have you loving your property improvements in no time.

At R&M Concrete, we have years of experience installing decorative concrete such as functional, attractive retaining walls for residential, industrial, commercial, religious, and multifamily properties all around the Tulsa area. We love partnering with Tulsa property owners to provide concrete services that help you enjoy your lifestyle and have peace of mind that your property is in great shape.

Check out our concrete retaining wall services to see how we can help make the process of installing a wall on your property simple and stress-free. We’ll be happy to come out, view your space, and create a plan that lets you make the most of your property. Contact us today to request a free estimate.