How to Build Footings for Concrete Retaining Walls

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Marking point
Cement mixer
Wood planks that serve as forms
Screw gun
Rebar ties
Steel rebar
Safety glasses

It is important when you are building concrete retaining walls to make them sturdy. A retaining wall is used to stop soil or dirt in one area, typically elevated, from moving to a lower area. Because of this, the footings will need to be built to create a sturdy base. If you are new to this type of project, here are a few tools and materials that you may need, as well as some steps to help guide you through the process.

Step 1 - Measure and Prepare

Be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves as you complete this project. Begin by measuring the foundation that you plan on working on. You will need to use the tape measure, and mark the footings with the marking point. It is best to plan out the entire building project and refer to this throughout the process.

Step 2 - Dig

trench dug out near a garden

Once you have measured the area, you can dig the footings. Many times you can get by using the shovel, however a pickaxe may be necessary. A simple way to go about this is to wet the dirt that you are digging out. It will allow you to get the shovel in there a little easier and the dirt stays together so that you don't have to worry about messes when you are putting it elsewhere.

Step 3 - Install the Stakes and Planks

Now, plant the wooden stakes into the footings that you just dug out. The tricky part to this step is making sure that you leave enough room for the wood forms. Determine how big your forms are and then measure that length between each stake. You may also want to leave a few extra inches in between. If your wooden form is eight inches long, you can leave about 10 inches or so in between stakes. Use screws to secure the wood planks. On the side of the wood plank, you will want to screw in the forms. Use a circular saw to make any cuts needed.

Step 4 - Lay Rebar and Pour Concrete

rebar sticking out a foundation

Lay down the rebar to reinforce the footing. Make sure that you check your building plans and measurements to determine the size of the reinforcing rebar. You can use a saw with an abrasive blade in order to cut the rebar to the size that you need. Then, mix the concrete per the instructions. Mix in the wheelbarrow and make sure that the consistency is like cake batter. You want it to be thick, but not so thick that you can’t pour it. Pour the concrete into the space in between the wood forms that you set out. Begin on one side of the footing and move your way slowly to the other. You may have to use a shovel to level everything out once it has been poured.