How to Pour a Concrete Retaining Wall

What You'll Need
Concrete mix, sand and water
Cement mixer
Measuring tape
Inverted marking paint
Retainer wallplans (foundation and footingplan)
Wood planks for forms (size depends on footing size)
Screw gun and 1-inch screws
Circular saw (wood and abrasive blades)
Steel rebar
Rebar ties
Pick axe

If you want to build a concrete retaining wall, you should consider pouring the wall rather than making it out of concrete blocks. A poured wall is much stronger and generally last many more years than a block wall. Pouring a concrete retaining wall is not that difficult, and this easy to follow how-to guide will show you just what to do. Let's get started.

(Note - Before you begin, you should check with the local building inspector's office in your area to find out how much rebar is required in retaining walls and how it should be laid and spaced.)

Step 1 - Measure and Mark Footing Locations

Refer to the plan or schematic for the retaining wall. Then, use the marking paint and measuring tape to lay out and mark the location for the footings. Make sure to measure and re-measure before creating your paint marks on the ground.

Step 2 - Dig the Footing

trench in the dirt

Again, refer to the plans for the retaining wall to determine how deep you will need to dig the footings. Then, take a shovel and pickaxe and begin digging the footing area for your retaining wall. If you don't have a plan for your wall, you should consult with the local building inspector to find out how deep the footings will need to be based on the height of your wall.

Step 3 - Build the Forms

Before you can start pouring the retaining wall, you'll need to build the forms. To do this, you'll need to drive stakes into the ground where you dug the footings. The spacing between the stakes will depend on how thick your retaining wall will be and the thickness of the wooden planks used as the forms.

For example, if you are pouring a retaining wall that will be 12 inches thick, and will use wooden planks that are 1 1/2 inches thick for your forms, you'll need to space the stakes about 15 inches apart (12 inches for the retaining wall plus two pieces of 1 1/2 inch thick wooden board). You should also make sure that the stakes are long enough to support the form for the height of the retaining wall. Then, screw the wooden planks to the insides of the stakes. Make sure that you screw from the inside of the plank going out to the stake.

Step 4 - Place Rebar

Follow the guidelines of the building inspector's office for laying steel rebar in the footing and making vertical runs of rebar inside the forms.

Step 5 - Mix Concrete

mixing cement

Follow the instructions on the bag of cement and mix accordingly. Once you have mixed the cement in the cement mixer, dump it into the wheelbarrow.

Step 6 - Pour the Retaining Wall

Roll the wheelbarrow of cement over to your wooden forms and pour the cement into the footing and form area. Once the forms are full of cement, you can smooth out the top of the wall. Refer to the directions on the cement mix bag, and allow the cement to fully cure or dry before removing the forms.