Gather Your Tools! For this project you will need:
Dig out your wall. You’ll mark your wall using stakes and string to make sure it’s straight as you dig the trench.
Lay landscape fabric over your excavated area and trench. Landscape fabric should stick out a foot above the top of your wall. If you have to overlap landscape fabric to cover your space, overlap by 6 inches. Landscape fabric should cover from the top of your wall (plus one foot) to the end of your trench. Place blocks on fabric to hold on place if necessary. Tamp 3 to 4 inches of gravel into the trench and back to the bottom of the excavation.
Fill the trench with gravel and lay your first course of blocks. Make sure they are level with each other as you lay them by checking with a long level.
Lay your first three rows of blocks. Once the first three rows have been placed, fill the gap between blocks and dirt with gravel. Then lay the drain pipe. Holes in the perforated plastic drain pipe should be facing down. The end of the pip should peak out just past the length of the wall for proper drainage. Once you’ve laid the drain pipe, lay the remaining rows of blocks and fill the rest of the space with gravel.
As you near the end of building your block wall and have only one course remaining, fold the landscape fabric over the gravel and tuck it behind the blocks.
Cover the landscaping fabric with top soil and sod that were previously removed. This may require purchasing new sod. Optional: fill with top soil and mulch, then plant flowers along the edge of your retaining wall.
You can finish the last course of the wall with the same blocks, or use capstones. Capstone blocks are typically made to cover the gaps between the blocks in the previous course. Start by aplying construction adhesive to the top of your last course. Then lay your final course of blocks or capstones across the top – cutting edge blocks to fit.
Take your remaining soil that was removed during excavation and lay it beneath the block wall. Level it out to meet the ground below and tamp the soil. Replace the sod or reseed the area and water frequently until the grass is well established.