dig a trench
Photo: Kolin Smith

Step 3: Dig a Trench

Using a spade and starting at the low point of any slope, dig a trench at least 6 inches deep or until you reach beyond the loamy topsoil to the lighter-colored soil beneath. Measure off of the level line to keep the base of the trench level as you excavate the area.

More: Digging Do's and Dont's

TOH Expert Tip: Have a wheelbarrow or tarp handy as you dig to help you cart away the soil while protecting the patio or lawn.
Ask TOH users about Fences & Stone Walls

Contribute to This Story Below

    Tools List

    • mason's line
      Mason's line and Line level

    • square spade

    • tamper
      Hand Tamper

    • four-foot level
      4-foot level

    • mallet
      Rubber Mallet

    • mason's chisel and maul
      Mason's Chisels and Maul

    • brick hammer
      Brick Hammer

    • caulk gun
      Caulk Gun

    Shopping List

    Cast Concrete Block:
    Choose a block made specifically for freestanding walls, not retaining walls or pavers. To calculate how many blocks you need, multiply the length of the wall, in inches, by the height, and divide that figure by the area (length x height) of the side of one block. Add 10 percent to account for cuts and breakage.

    Paver Base:
    A mixture of ¾-inch crushed rock and stone dust. One yard covers 108 square feet 3 inches deep.

    Stone Dust:
    One yard covers 324 square feet 1 inch deep.

    Masonry Construction Adhesive