We were building a circle wall to go around a tree, but these steps will also be used in making a strait or curving wall that is holding the earth back from someplace you don't want it to be.
Step #2 Gather the Tools you will Need
Here is a picture of the tools that we use with each wall. You may use others, or not use the same as us. See what works the best for you and use those!
- Sod Cutter-cutting sod into easily removable strips
- Large Level-making sure the whole wall is level
- Small Level-checking each individual block as you go
- Hatchet-to remove sod in even smaller pieces
- Medium Level-to check the level of three blocks across
- Gloves-to save your hands from the drying cement on skin
- Pic Ax-hubby's new favorite for removing sod quickly
As you will see below we also purchased a cement circular saw cutting blade also.
Step #3 Setting the first Block
It was kind of funny talking to my hubby about the directions for this post. His only comment was "Get the first block level and your set". You will need to find the lowest point of the earth that you want your wall on. You then start the first block on that lowest point. Remove the sod, or flatten the dirt if you have no grass there. When setting the first block you need to be absolutely sure it is level from front to back and left to right. If your first block isn't level, your wall won't be level and it will just look bad. This is where the small level comes in handy. Be sure to check EVERY SINGLE block for level. They might shift a little and you can fix it before the whole wall is finished then.
Step #4 Keep setting the Ground Level Blocks
Once the first one is level, move to either side of the low point and level more blocks. It may take some time, it is hard work. Take your time and drink water if it is hot out! Check the level of the three blocks with the medium level to make sure the outermost blocks are level with each other. If these are still level, you are on the right path. If not, stop now and fix them until they are level.
Step #5 Stepping the Blocks
At some point, unless your ground is perfectly level, you will need to step up the blocks. This is because you started at the lowest point of the wall. You will need to judge as to when the block you just laid is level with the earth next to it. At that point you can add the extra blocks on top of the row you finished and then level the next stone with the earth and the second row of blocks. Make sure this block is level and not wobbly at all. This will also effect the sturdiness of the wall.
Step #6 Lunch Time & Free Entertainment
By the time you are stepping up the wall, you might need a break and some lunch. I always make sure that we eat lunch outside during one of these projects, because the guys are normally very dirty. We were lucky enough to have some free entertainment this weekend. We live a few blocks away from a small airport, and they were having their annual Air Show. We had so many cool planes flying overhead all day long. We did stop quite frequently to look up to see which plane was flying over.
Step #7 Keep working on the Rows of Block
Keep going, stepping up and adding to the top rows of your wall. When you start reaching the end you will need to judge how to finish it off. Our last wall we were lucky enough that the last block fit in without needing to be cut. This wall we were not that lucky. At that point we called it a day and went shopping for a new blade to cut the block.
Step #8 Cutting Cement Blocks
We found a circular saw blade that would cut through cement and stone. It cost $20 at the Home Depot, but hubby said it was worth every penny. He set up scrap pieces of wood on the driveway to elevate the block that needed to be cut. After measuring and marking the block for the cut, he went to work. It needed to be cut on all four sides, but only took about 3 minutes to complete. It was VERY dusty and loud. Not sure if the graduation party three doors down appreciated us at that moment. Just make slow cuts and it goes through like butter. My hubby now can't wait to do more walls and paver patios that I have planned now that he has this blade. Yea for me :)
Step #9 Set in that Last Block
Now we purchased the type of blocks that have a lip on the back bottom of them to lock them into place once back filled, so we didn't need any construction adhesive. That will come into play when we do the cap stones at a later date. If your measuring was accurate, that last stone should just fit the empty space like a glove.
Step #10 Finishing up
Step back, enjoy your work, perhaps pop an adult beverage. The wall is finished, but remember you will need to back fill with dirt or compost to give the wall it's strength. At that point you can add plants or flowers to make it your own. We divided hostas from the back yard, you can read how to do that here. You can see by the picture below, our maple trees throw off quite a bit of shade, so hostas were a natural choice. Also be sure to receive the neighbors complements gracefully. Because everybody in your neighborhood has been watching you all day to see what your doing!
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