Step 7: Lay the Leveling Sand

rake used to lay the leveling sand to build a stone planter
Photo: Kolin Smith
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To simplify fine-tuning the height of the blocks, add a 1-inch layer of leveling sand. Distribute it evenly with a steel rake. The bed should end up half the depth of one block at the ground level's lowest point.
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    Tools List

    • spade
      spade
    • garden stakes
      stakes
    • mason line and level
      mason line and line level
    • square shovel
      shovel
    • tamper
      hand tamper
    • iron rake
      steel rake
    • mallet
      rubber mallet
    • two-foot level
      2-foot level
    • mason's chisel and maul
      mason's chisel and maul
    • brick hammer
      brick hammer
    • caulk gun
      caulk gun
    • craft scissors
      scissors to cut the landscape fabric

    Shopping List

    Cast-concrete blocks
    Choose those meant for freestanding and retaining walls, not walkway pavers. To calculate how many blocks you need, divide the area, in inches, of each wall by the area of the largest block's face. Add 10 percent to cover cuts and breakage.

    Paver base
    A 50-pound bag covers 2 square feet at 3 inches deep

    Leveling sand
    A 50-pound bag covers about 6 square feet at 1 inch deep. Drainage stone
    Get enough to fill your planters to three courses from the top.

    Masonry construction adhesive

    Landscape fabric

    Topsoil