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How to Build a Retaining Wall the Right Way


Home Improvements can be really expensive which means being able to tackle those projects yourself is an essential part of being a homeowner.

Learning How to Build a Retaining Wall can save you thousands and by doing it yourself, you can make sure this DIY project is done the right way!

Our retaining wall started crumbling down almost immediately after moving to Iowa when we had a local serviceman pay us a visit to install our cable.

This genius drove right over our existing retaining wall which was apparently made of driftwood from the Titanic era, and it broke.

We were new to the area, excited to live in Iowa finally after years of planning and new to the idea of having a retaining wall so we really didn’t get too upset, we just let it go.

It wasn’t until we had a little bit of rain before we noticed what kind of damage had been done.

Now that the wood retaining wall was busted, the water and mud would pour right into our driveway, creating a big sloppy mess.

As time went on, the retaining wall eroded more and the problem worsened.

One day my husband decided that he had enough of this mess and felt confident that he could Build a Retaining Wall the Right Way without having to hire an overpriced company.

So we got started.

The first thing we did was remove the sliver of wood by digging it out completely.

We then measured the size of the wall we needed by measuring the dirt that we are building the retaining wall to keep in.

We dug out more space behind where we wanted the retaining wall to end in order to add in gravel for extra drainage.

This is the best way to build your retaining wall if you get record-breaking rainfall everytime it rains like we do here in Iowa, although for some weird midwestern reason nobody will admit it.

It’s kind of hard to ignore the flood-like conditions when your retaining wall is crumbling, so trust me, it pours down hard when it rains here.

If your retaining wall is on a slope it is bound to take on more water than other areas in your yard so adding gravel is a good idea.

Measure out how many bricks you will need and then buy some extra to avoid that second trip to the store that seems to come with every DIY project for homeowners. 

Lay down your bricks creating the retaining wall but don’t add any landscape glue yet, just lay them out to see if you need to make any adjustments.

To create a staggered look or if you find a corner doesn’t end in the right place, you can spend a bunch of money on a toolset you will only need for this job or you can drop those bad boys on your curb to break them in half.

If you don’t like the look of a not so perfect edge on your retaining wall, turn the brick to the other side or pick up a hammer and chisel to help you get your Fred Flinstone on.

With each new addition of bricks, starting with the first, it is a good idea to add a zigzag of landscaping glue to help keep the retaining wall in place over time.

Once you have your wall in place, you can pour in the gravel to help your retaining wall drain water easily and serve an even better purpose than looking pretty in your yard.

I love the way the gravel looks but if you want to plant a garden you can always add a top layer of soil or omit the gravel completely if drainage is not an issue for your retaining wall. 

I hope I was able to help you learn How to Build a Retaining Wall the right way and see how it easy it can be to tackle homeowner issues with fun DIY projects. 

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About Thirty Something Super Mom

Melissa Dixon Thirty Something Super Mom
Thirty Something Super Mom | Website

My journey started after a Crohn's disease diagnosis, inspiring a commitment to well-being. This site shares my distinctive approach to healthy living with my collection of nutritious recipes that boast authentic flavors, mimicking the indulgence of traditional dishes. I love sharing guilt free recipes for low carb, keto, gluten-free, paleo, and the specific carbohydrate diet. I also share tips on natural living, including homemade cleaners and cleaning hacks. I also share my experience as a veterinary technician and pet groomer, to integrate pet health tips, homemade dog food recipes, and grooming insights to ensure your pets thrive.


Saturday 15th of April 2023

Can you tell me where you bought these landscaping bricks, and what they’re called? Also, does the cement come in a tube? Thanks.


Friday 21st of April 2023

Hi Jenn thanks for stopping by. I bought these landscaping bricks at Menards, I am not sure what they are called but they seem to be pretty standard bricks that you could probably pick up at any landscaping or hardware store. Good luck!


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

you forgot the perforated pipe..and unwoven fabric..just saying


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Hi Mark, thanks for stopping by and adding those suggestions. This post is designed with simplicity in mind and while those additions may help to divert more water, this solution works great for a smaller wall. If the retaining wall being built is over 4 feet tall I would agree that some additional measures should be taken due to the weight of the water that would be involved. This project is much smaller and does not require the extra steps so I kept it pretty basic which makes this project much easier for the average person looking to save money on home improvement projects that can be done themselves.

Deanna Lynne

Monday 7th of June 2021

Thanks for explaining how to measure the size of the retaining wall before building. My brother is looking for steel posts so he can build a modern-style retaining wall in his backyard this summer. I'll share this info to teach him about the steps for building a retaining wall!


Tuesday 15th of June 2021

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Good luck on the retaining wall.

Pedro De Pacas

Tuesday 12th of June 2018

True story supermom. My cousin Juan just did the same thing for some hermano he met in front of the Home Depot! Yeah he said that he had lots of fun doing it and this guy even paid him like 40 pesos per hour and then bought everybody free tacos for lunch with extra onions and cilantro! Some guys have all the luck. The last time I tried my luck in the Home Depot lot all I got was a seagull to steal my hamburguesa and at the same time I think his little bendejo friend made a mess on my shoulder! Keep up the good work mamasita!

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