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Steps for Rebuilding a Retaining Wall:

  1. Remove any plants lining the retaining wall with a shovel. Dig deep to give the plants a strong root ball.
  2. Transfer plants temporarily to a tarp for safekeeping.
  3. Remove the pieces of the old wall.
  4. Dig a few inches back and deep along the location of the old wall.
  5. Lay a thick base of gravel along the trench. Pack it down tight with a tamper.
  6. Lay the first course of blocks about halfway deep in the trench. Lay one block every six feet or so along the length of the wall, level those to one another, and then fill in the rest of the wall. Use the rubber mallet to secure the blocks in place.
  7. Lay a fabric liner along the back and base of the wall.
  8. Backfill behind the first course with more gravel.
  9. Lay the next course of blocks. Line up the channels using the channel connectors. Be sure to not overlap face joints.
  10. Lay the perforated plastic pipe behind the wall and backfill it with gravel.
  11. Install the next course of blocks the same as the second. Backfill with gravel. Repeat until the wall is at the desired height. Some blocks may need to be cut with a wet saw to ensure an even fit on each course.
  12. To secure the top cap for the blocks, add construction adhesive to the top course of blocks. Then add the cap pieces. Even it out with the rubber mallet.
  13. Return any plants back to the wall as needed.


Crushed stone or gravel?

Summer 2021 Ask TOH, retaining wall Colleen McQuaid

Crushed stone makes the best base for walls because the stones’ sharp, angular edges lock together when tamped, and provide excellent drainage. Gravel contains weathered stones that are more rounded and therefore more difficult to compact.