Building a Paver Retaining Wall: A 5 Step Guide


While they were originally designed to keep sloped soil from eroding, retaining walls have become far more than a practical structure. Today, you’re just as likely to see a retaining wall in a front or back yard because of its beauty as you are because it’s necessary. Not only do retaining walls add variety to a yard, throwing in additional colors for example, they also give you the ability to break your yard up into separate sections. And one of the fastest, easiest, and most affordable ways to take advantage of this is by building a paver retaining wall.

Designing a paver patio instead? Read this article about budget friendly paver patio ideas!

So, how do you put together an effective paver retaining wall?

That’s what this guide is all about. Today, we’re going to walk you through the process of building a quality paver retaining wall from beginning to end…

Building a Paver Retaining Wall, Step One: Excavate Your Area


Before you can lay a single paver, you need to begin with a solid foundation. After all, if your foundation is uneven, crooked, or otherwise compromised, then it won’t matter how effective everything that comes after is.

First, you’ll want to determine the exact size of your retaining wall. Use a tape measure, a few stakes, and a string to get a clear picture of your final product on the ground.

Once you’ve got a good idea of how far you need it to run, you can use a shovel to dig a trench for your first row (or course) of pavers to sit in. The trench should probably be around 5 or 6 inches deep and should be twice as wide as one of your pavers lying vertically. After your trench is finished, go back and examine it to make sure it’s level from one side to the other. Make any needed adjustments as you go.

Once your trench looks good, use a tamper to compact the dirt in your trench, providing a firm foundation for the rest of your wall.

Building a Paver Retaining Wall, Step Two: Build a Base


Visit your local hardware store and pick up some ½” to ¾” size landscape rocks. You’ll use these to create the base for your wall. Once you’ve got enough to fill your trench, evenly distribute them throughout until they make up a 2” to 3” layer.

Once again, it’s important to use a tamper to compact the rocks so that everything is evenly distributed and you’re ready to begin laying pavers.

Building a Paver Retaining Wall, Step Three: Begin Laying Blocks

Place your first paver at one of the ends of your wall and use a level to make sure that it’s not skewed. If you need to make minor adjustments, a small rubber mallet can help. From there, begin laying pavers, end-to-end along the trench line until you’ve reached the other end of the wall.

After you’ve got your first course completed, use gravel to fill in the space between the retaining wall pavers and the landscape they will be holding back. For additional support and stability, compact the gravel with a tamper.

Building a Paver Retaining Wall, Step Four: Complete the Courses You Need

Before you get started on your next course of pavers, you’ll want to cut one paver in half so that you can use the halves on either end of the wall, allowing you to stagger the pavers.

After this, you’ll simply lay the pavers as you did in the previous step, only this time you’ll go on top of the course you’ve already finished. When you’re done, add gravel just as you did previously and continue adding courses until your wall is complete.

Building a Paver Retaining Wall, Step Five: Finish Your Wall


Once your pavers are in place, you’ll need to finish your wall with a row of block caps. Sweep off any debris from the top of the paver retaining wall and add the block caps, securing them with construction adhesive.

After the wall is complete, all you’ll have left to do is to cover the gravel behind the wall with soil or sod and use landscape fabric as needed.

Make sure to seal your paver retaining wall to increase longevity and enhance the look. Learn more about SealThane Paver Sealer.

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