When it comes to holding back tons of dirt, you basically have two choices. Hire a mason contractor and have a traditional concrete block wall constructed, or you can do it yourself with interlocking (or segmented) retaining wall blocks.
The use of retaining wall blocks as opposed to traditional concrete retaining wall construction is increasing in popularity. You may notice many new commercial construction projects that are using the stacking blocks method of retaining wall construction for many reasons.
Advantages of using retaining blocks
- Do it yourself and save money
- These blocks create a strong wall that can be considered permanent
- Building permits are not required until the wall becomes over 4 feet high – Building codes will vary. Check your local codes.
- The wall can be re-configured or removed if needed in the future
- The block can be re-used
- The wall can be planted to create a “living wall” (depending on the type of block used)
- Build at your own pace
- You have more block color and style choices
In my case, the wall I needed is about 75 feet long and from 3 to 4 feet high. The estimate received for the traditional concrete block wall was $6,500. The cost of materials for interlocking blocks was $1,200… a $5,300 savings. Make no mistake about it, this is hard work. The basic steps you take are to dig for your foundation row, stack block, check for proper alignment and level, then backfill and compact. These block weigh 62 lbs. each, but if you are up to the task and want to save some serious money on a project like this, the stacking blocks are a great option. For my project, I chose to use the Verdura 30 block made by soilretention.com and available at Home Depot in California.
This is a great project for the Do It Yourselfer with a strong back and the will to save some serious money on a soil retaining wall. It is very satisfying to stand back and look at your completed project with pride as well as gain the envy of your neighbors.