diagram for how to build a retaining wall
Illustration: Joe McKendry
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11. Prevent Erosion with a New Wall

Why Now: Head off mini mudslides byterracing a slope, such as along a driveway, with a retaining wall. A small one (3 feet high, max) made from interlocking concrete blocks doesn't require you to hire a mason or rent an excavator.

How To Do It: Dig into the slope about 2 feet back from where your new wall will go, and line with landscape fabric. For the footing, create an 8-inch trench along the base of the wall and fill with tamped, crushed stone topped with stone dust. Stagger courses of the blocks, starting with 
half of the first course below grade. The blocks fit together like a puzzle, with construction adhesive applied between courses. As you build, backfill with crushed stone to keep water from building up 
behind the wall. Finish with capstones across the top.

The Payoff: A better-looking yard and driveway, plus a savings of about $30 to $60 per square foot by building the wall yourself rather than hiring a pro.
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