How to build a small retaining wall

How to build a small retaining wall

3 minutes, 39 seconds Read

Are you looking for an efficient way to build a small retaining wall on your property? Retaining walls are often used in landscaping projects as they provide an effective method of managing and controlling soil erosion, water runoff, silt buildup, and can help create usable outdoor spaces. Building a small retaining wall is not complex work but requires some patience and the right materials. In this blog post we will explain the steps required to construct a successful small retaining wall that will be both functional and look great.

Getting started

Before beginning your project, it is important to do some initial planning. Determine the purpose of your retaining wall and the location where you want to build it. This will help you decide on the size, height, and materials needed for your retaining wall. You should also check with your local authorities to see if any permits are required for building a retaining wall on your property.

Materials required

The materials needed for building a small retaining wall will depend on the size and height of the wall, as well as your personal preference. However, some common materials that you may need include:

  • Retaining wall blocks or bricks
  • Gravel or crushed stone
  • Landscape fabric
  • Drainage pipes
  • Wooden stakes and string
  • Shovel and spade
  • Level and measuring tape

Step-by-step guide

  1. Mark the area: Begin by marking the outline of your retaining wall using wooden stakes and string. This will help you visualize the size and shape of your wall.
  1. Excavate the area: Use a shovel or spade to remove the topsoil within the marked area. The depth of the excavation will depend on the height of your wall and whether you need to add a layer of gravel for drainage.
  1. Level and compact the base: Use a level to ensure that the base is even and then compact it with a hand tamper or plate compactor.
  1. Install landscape fabric: Lay down a layer of landscape fabric on top of the compacted base to prevent weed growth and help with drainage.
  1. Add gravel: If your retaining wall is more than 3 feet high, you may need to add a layer of gravel for additional drainage. Make sure to compact the gravel as well.
  1. Start laying blocks: Begin at one corner of your retaining wall and start laying the blocks, making sure to level each block as you go. Use a rubber mallet to tap the blocks into place.
  1. Add drainage pipes: If your wall is over 4 feet high, it is important to add drainage pipes behind the first course of blocks. This will help prevent water buildup and pressure against your wall.
  1. Continue building: Repeat the process of laying blocks and adding drainage pipes if necessary until you reach the desired height for your retaining wall.
  1. Finish off with capstones: Once your wall is at the desired height, add a row of capstones on top to provide a finished look.
  1. Backfill and finish: Fill in any gaps behind the wall with soil and compact it. You can also add plants or decorative rocks to create a more visually appealing retaining wall.


To ensure the longevity of your small retaining wall, regular maintenance is important. Inspect your wall for any cracks or loose blocks and make repairs as needed. Keep an eye on drainage pipes to ensure they are functioning properly. Also, make sure to clear away any debris or excess soil buildup around the base of your wall.


Building a small retaining wall can be a great addition to your landscaping project, and with the right materials and proper construction techniques, you can create a functional and visually appealing structure on your property. Remember to always plan ahead, use quality materials, and regularly maintain your retaining wall for optimal results . With these tips, you can confidently take on the task of building a small retaining wall and enhance your outdoor space. So why wait? Start planning and building your small retaining wall today! So why wait? Start planning and building your small retaining wall today! I hope this guide has been helpful in providing you with the necessary information to build your own retaining wall. Happy building! So why wait? Start planning and building your small retaining wall today! I hope this guide has been helpful in providing you with the necessary information to build your own retaining wall.

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