Our DIY Retaining Wall

Ever since I moved into my current house, I wanted to add a retaining wall right off our front porch. Our yard slants to the right, and our existing landscape just blended in too much.

Justin and I took the long weekend to finally attack this project and WOW, it was a lot of work. This was the first true landscaping project for both of us, and we just figured it out on our own step by step.

Justin started by deciding what shape he wanted the retaining wall. Although he just eyed this part, using a garden hose to mark the shape can help. He began digging out the line that the first row of pavers would set in.
 Justin dug about 3 inches deep and and about 8 inches wide. Our pavers measured 8''x12'' and are 6'' deep, so this meant that the first row of pavers fit nice and snug and were set in the ground about half way.

As you can see from this pic, we decided on a doing a curved retaining wall.
Once you get your general line of the retaining wall, it is imperative that it is completely level. We did this by using a 8'' tamper. One by one, Justin laid down each paver and made sure it was level.
If this row is not completely level, your entire wall will be off center.This is the most tedious part of the whole project. However, once you get the first row down, than it's just a matter of stacking the rest of the pavers.

First row down. This is the point of the slope that the next row of pavers begins. I'll let the photos show this process.
Justin continued to make sure the pavers remained completely level throughout the whole process. It's much easier to adjust each paver as you go, than it would be to have to remove several bricks and discover where the unevenness begins.

All in all, it took 89 pavers! Mind you, they weigh 22.5lbs each. We had to load them onto our cart at Home Depot, than into our car and then unload once we got home. It took us three trips to Home Depot over 2 days, and we both feel like we ran a marathon this weekend. It was tough work!

Once our wall was built, it was time to fill it up. The first layer consisted of coarse paver sand and we tightly packed the backside of the pavers to prevent them from moving.

After 10 bags of paver sand, we filled the remaining space with 8- 40lb bags of potting soil and then topped it with 5 bags of mulch.
So you don't have to scroll back up, here is the before once more-

And now the After-

Justin did such a good job. I love how this turned out.

I should note, that we were carefully supervised the entire time by these two boys :)

A few things to note-
1. We ended up having to cut a few pavers and use a half on each end. Justin was able to get a clean break by using a steel mallet and chisel, like this-
2. You will use more pavers than you think. We thought we'd use 60, we ended up with 89. This was largely due to us deciding that we should do another row after it was built, but we were still short a few in general. Buy extra.
3. It is labor-intensive. The actual building of the wall is fairly simple to figure out. However, carrying 22.5lb pavers all day long in the hot sun and wind took it out of us. Take breaks and don't over do it.

A few more pictures, just because we are so happy with our hard work-

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!-Suzanne and Justin


  1. Beautiful! Nice work you two!

  2. Beautiful! Nice work you two!

  3. Looks great! You can really see the difference in the finished project. It is a great addition to your curb appeal. It is amazing how long that first getting everything right can take. Our tiling project went the same way. But once you get things perfect it is worth it!

  4. Love the finished look!

  5. Great job, you should come and help me to do mine. I love it a lot, exactly what I need. God bless your talent and I am sure your wife love it..!!

  6. Great job, you should come and help me to do mine. I love it a lot, exactly what I need. God bless your talent and I am sure your wife love it..!!


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