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Retaining walls are built for a number of reasons although generally, it is to protect property and improve appearance. Whenever a cut occurs on the side of a hill, moisture escaping from that opening will lead to erosion of that hill. A retaining wall helps prevent this type of erosion by keeping the moisture in the ground.

If you need or want a retaining wall built, this is a project that you could do yourself but keep in mind that this is a very challenging project. Building a retaining wall requires solid workmanship, compliance with building codes, and good old-fashioned muscle power. In many cases, retaining walls are built to be no higher than three foot, which is what will be used for the sake of this example. With the help of some friends or family members, and by following the instructions listed below, you will soon have your retaining wall complete.

For tools, you will need:

Brick Layer's Trowel Broom (stiff bristled) Framing Square
Garden Hose Garden Rake Hammer
Mason's Hand Level Mason's Pointing Tool Mason's String
One 2-inch and 4-inch Hand Level Shovel Wheelbarrow
Wooden Float

For materials, you will need:

1310 Brick 3 3/4" x 2 1/4" x 8" per 100 square feet of wall 4.4 Brick 3 3/4" x 2 1/4" x 8" per foot of wall length 20 Cubic feet of Mortar per 100 square feet of wall
2.33 Cubic feet of Concrete per foot of wall length 3/8" Steel reinforcing bars, 52" long, bent 9" from one end at a 90-degree angle, one for every 3 1/2 feet of wall length Two 10" pieces of prefabricated joint reinforcement for 8" wide wall, for every 9 1/2 feet of wall length
3/8" Steel reinforcing bars, 18" long, one for every 3 1/2 feet of wall length 1/2" Steel bars for length of footing (allow 10" lapping splice) 1" diameter Plastic tubing
Asphalt (small amount)

Start by digging excavation and then use loose brick to lay on the bottom of the reinforcing bars that have been placed at the bottom of your hole. The vertical bar will be wired to the bottom bar and then propped up in place. Next, insert the remaining bars at the top of the footing while the concrete is being poured. This concrete footing will need to dry (season) for a minimum of one week. Once dry, lay the brick and with the shoved joints, insert the prefabricated steel joint reinforcement. Keep in mind that sometimes brick must be cut for the "weep holes," which is where the one-inch plastic tubing will be inserted. These weep holes will be made every four inches along the wall, allowing any moisture to seep out safely without damaging the property.

Before you cap the wall off by laying a solid row of brick laying on edge, you will need to pour some mortar into the gap located between the brick. This helps the brick bond securely to the reinforcing bars. Once the retaining wall is built, brush the asphalt along the base of the wall on the ground to make the base waterproof. Finally, place gravel behind the wall down to the weep hole, keeping this open. Once you have done this, your wall is complete!
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