Step 7: Lay the First Course

Photo: Kolin Smith
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A level and sturdy wall all depends on the positioning of the first course. A first course that tilts will tilt the block stacked on top of it, and one with gaps will throw off the rest of the joints. If there’s any slope to your area, begin to set the stones from the high end of your trench and build up the low areas to avoid having to remove any stone dust.

Set the first stone centered between the sides of the trench. Using a 4-foot level, check the stone running from side to side, front to back, and corner to corner. Using a rubber mallet, tap the stone to set it. Place the next stone. Set it with the mallet, and check that it’s flush with the adjacent stone and level in all directions. Continue setting the first course in this manner until you reach the end of the wall.

More: All About Concrete Pavers

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    Tools List

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

    • square spade
      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