Laying the First Course
- Start at the edge of the wall that’s most visible, or the edge that butts up against another structure. If your wall goes across a slope, start at the lowest end.
- Position the first stone in your trench. Make sure the stone is level from front to back and side to side. Adjust by lifting the stone and adding more gravel or digging deeper as necessary.
- Hammer wooden stakes in the ground at each end of the trench, and stretch a string between them even with the top of the first stone. Level the string with a line level, and use the string as a guide for laying the rest of the first course.
- Continue laying stones side-by-side along your trench, making sure they are level. Getting the first course right is the key to a successful wall.
Laying Additional Courses
- Each row of blocks is offset from the one below it. If your wall has straight edges on the ends, start your next course with a block that has been cut in half.
- If you’ve worked hard to make sure everything is level, then this is the fun part. Continue laying courses of stones, making sure the lip of the stone is tight against the stone below it, and also making sure the seams are offset. The front edge will have a slightly “stepped-back” look due to the lips on the stones.
- Periodically check to make sure the stones are level and wobble free.
- Build up the wall to the desired height, and top with topper stones if desired.
To cut a block in two, score a line around the middle with a brick chisel, then position the chisel on your scored line, and strike it with the small sledgehammer.
- To keep your wall clean, spread landscape fabric up against the wall before backfilling.
- Backfill the area behind the wall in layers, with gravel against the wall and fill dirt behind it, firmly tamping down each layer.
- Finish with a layer of topsoil.
If your wall is intended to divert water runoff, place a perforated drain pipe against the back of the wall before backfilling.