How to Build a Brick Retaining Wall: A Complete Guide


Are you considering building a retaining wall with bricks? If so, this guide is for you.

Building a brick retaining wall isn't as difficult as it may seem. In fact, it can be done quite easily with the right tools, supplies, and knowledge. From digging trenches to laying bricks and preparing a foundation, there are numerous steps involved in creating a sturdy and attractive wall.

This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to build your own brick retaining wall, as well as tips to make sure the job is done correctly. You'll learn what materials you'll need, how to prepare the area, and which tools will be essential for the job. Plus, you’ll get some expert advice on how to avoid common mistakes and ensure your brick retaining wall will last for years to come.

Quick List On How to Build A Brick Retaining Wall

  • Choosing the right type of bricks for your retaining wall
  • Designing and planning your brick retaining wall
  • Preparing the site for a brick retaining wall
  • Constructing the base course of your brick wall
  • Applying Mortar and laying bricks for your retaining wall
  • Capping and finishing touches for your brick retaining wall

Choosing the Right Type of Bricks for Your Retaining Wall

When choosing the bricks for your retaining wall, it’s important to consider several factors. The first is the size of your wall. Heavy-duty, larger bricks are better suited for higher walls and will support more weight without breaking or shifting. You also need to consider the weight of the soil and potential water load behind the wall; make sure you factor that into your calculations when looking at the weight capacity of your chosen bricks.

Another factor to consider is the color of your bricks; they should complement the existing colors in your yard and house. Finally, make sure you purchase high-quality bricks that will stand up to weathering and recenter more quickly if needed. With a few considerations in mind, you can find the perfect brick type for your retaining wall.

Designing and Planning Your Brick Retaining Wall

Building a brick retaining wall is no small feat and requires a fair amount of planning and research. To begin, consider the location of the wall and whether you need any additional materials or equipment. You should also make sure that it’s properly designed to suit your needs and budget.

Once you’ve done your research, you should create a detailed plan for building your brick retaining wall. This may include obtaining a building permit, researching proper drainage solutions, selecting the best brick type for your project, calculating how much brick you’ll need, assembling the necessary tools and materials, drawing up blueprints for your wall layout, preparing the soil, and selecting the correct anchoring systems.

By planning all of these details in advance, you will ensure that everything is properly taken care of before you start construction. This will help to minimize potential problems along the way as well as ensure that your final project meets safety standards for DIY projects.

Preparing the Site for a Brick Retaining Wall

Now that you’re done planning, it’s time to get ready to build your brick retaining wall. Preparing the site is an important step to ensure a successful installation.

First, you’ll need to mark out the area where you want your wall to go. Using stakes and twine, outline the shape and size of the wall, making sure that it’s level and in line with your desired dimensions.

Next, you’ll need to dig a trench along the outline of the wall – this will form the base of your foundation. The depth of the trench should be at least 6 inches (8 inches for walls taller than 3 feet) and wide enough for two layers of bricks plus gravel. Fill in any low spots with soil before starting the next step.

Finally, fill in half of your trench with gravel or crushed stone. This will provide drainage for any water that accumulates against the back of your wall so there is no seepage into your landscaping or house foundation. Compact this layer and add a second layer if necessary before adding a final layer of sand or topsoil.

Constructing the Base Course of Your Brick Wall

The base course of your brick retaining wall is an essential part of what makes it both strong and stable. This course should be at least one brick thick and extend the entire length of the wall. Additionally, you need to make sure that the base of the wall is level before you begin construction.

You will want to start at one end and work your way down, laying each brick in a pattern that overlaps the previous brick. You can either lay them in stretcher bond or header bond, which are common bricklaying patterns. Make sure each brick is flush with the ground and level with the ones beside it. Also, check each course as you go to ensure that it is level as well.

You will also need to remember to insert reinforcement rods horizontally into the mortar every few courses to create stability and prevent cracking from settlement or weight from above. It's also a good idea to use a bonding agent in your mortar mixture for added strength when constructing the base course of your brick retaining wall.

Applying the Mortar and Laying Bricks for Your Retaining Wall

Building a brick retaining wall requires precision, patience, and the right materials. First, you need to prepare your equipment and space before you start laying bricks. Then, you're ready to apply the mortar and lay your bricks.

Preparing Your Workspace

Before applying the mortar, you should make sure that your workspace is ready to go. Lay landscaping cloth down around the area where you will be building the wall, which will help keep weeds away and provide a layer of protection against water damage. Move any plants or debris that may be in the way of construction. You should also inspect any existing walls for loose or damaged bricks that could compromise the integrity of your new wall.

Applying Mortar for Your Retaining Wall

Once your workspace is ready, it's time to apply the mortar for your brick retaining wall. Mix up a batch of mortar according to manufacturer instructions and use a trowel or pointing tool to apply an even layer of mortar onto each brick as you lay them down. Don’t forget to slope the mortar slightly downwards so that water can run off of it more easily! This will prevent water from seeping underneath and eroding away at your foundation over time. After applying each layer of bricks with mortar, use a level to ensure that they are even before continuing on to the next layer.

Capping and Finishing Touches for Your Brick Retaining Wall

Now that your brick retaining wall is finished, you can give it a more polished look with some finishing touches. Capping off your wall with a layer of mortar or concrete can create a more unified appearance, as well as add strength and durability to the structure.

To create a more finished look, you'll need to:

  1. Mix up a batch of mortar or concrete using the appropriate amount of water and a mixing paddle.
  2. Apply a layer of mortar or concrete to the top of the wall, making sure to cover each brick completely.
  3. Smooth down with a trowel for an even surface before allowing it to dry completely.
  4. Once dry, use a stiff brush to remove any dirt or debris from the surface and finish with a sealant for added protection from moisture and UV rays.

These finishing touches are just one way to make sure your brick retaining wall looks amazing for years to come!


Building a brick retaining wall is not an easy task, but with the right preparation, materials, and tools, it can be done with relative ease. From designing a plan to purchasing the right materials and tools to mixing and placing the mortar, each step of the process requires diligent attention to detail. With the right combination of skill and patience, you can be on your way to a beautiful and durable brick retaining wall. So if you are up for the challenge, don't hesitate to contact us!

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