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Free-Standing Wall Installation

Basic Free-Standing Landscape Wall Installation

The following guidelines are for the installation of a basic free standing decorative landscape wall where no special circumstances are present. Free-standing landscape walls are generally used for yard division, small seating walls, or used as aesthetic elements. They are not designed to hold back soil as with Retaining Walls.

See Available Landscape Wall Styles

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NOTE: The above video highlights the steps involved when building a specific free-standing wall project; but the information included can be applied to any free-standing wall project of your choosing. For questions regarding your specific project, please contact an RCP Block & Brick near you.

Project Considerations:

System Components:

Free-Standing Walls are designed to stand by themselves without retaining any soil. They are used for yard division, seating walls, or general aesthetic purposes. All Free-Standing Walls share some common building components in their construction. Below is an overview of these common components.

Step 1: Excavation & Leveling Pad

The leveling pad is the first piece in constructing a stable wall that will last for years. This is the foundation on which the weight of the wall will rest, and therefore a very important piece to consider when installing any landscape wall.

Excavate the Site

Remove all surface vegetation and debris. Do not use this material as backfill. After selecting the location and length of the wall, excavate a base trench to the designed width and depth. These measurements will vary depending on block style and wall design (Contact RCP Block & Brick for project specific measurements); but expect the depth to be approximately as deep as the height of one block unit plus 6 inches; and as wide as the width of one block unit plus 12 inches.

Install the Leveling Pad

Fill the prepared trench with a 6” base off granular fill. We recommend 3/4” Crushed Gravel. Do NOT use pea gravel. Thoroughly compact and level the gravel to create your leveling pad.

NOTE: If grade changes along base of the wall, create a stepped leveling pad as required. Always start wall at lowest elevation, working to highest.

Retaining Wall Leveling Pad Diagram

Leveling Pad for Sloping & Level Grade

Installing Leveling Pad

Compacting Leveling Pad

Step 2: Base Course

The first course of block that you lay is known as the base course. It is paramount that this course is absolutely level both front to back and side to side. If your base course is just a fraction out of level, it will be quite noticeable once you get to your final course.

Installing Base Course:

The first course of block will be placed below final grade, meaning you will be burying all or part of the first course. Place the first course of block units end to end on the prepared leveling pad. Make sure each unit is absolutely level. Complete this first course before adding additional courses.

NOTE: On units that use a pin connection, the long groove (receiving channel) on the unit should be placed down and the pin holes should face up.

PRO TIP: For alignment of straight walls, use a string line aligned on the pin holes of applicable units or back of the block of lipped units.

Retaining Wall Leveling Pad Diagram

First Course Must Be Absolutely Level

Step 3: Installing and Connecting Additional Courses

The next step will be to start adding additional courses. This is where your landscape wall will really begin to take shape.

Additional Course Considerations:

  1. As you add each additional course, continue checking to make sure each new block unit remains level.
  2. Take care that the joints (spaces between block units) do not line up with those of the courses above or below. This is known as a “Running Bond” pattern and helps create a structurally sound wall.
    NOTE: At curves, course bonding will adjust sideways. If “Stack Bond” occurs (joints start to line up with courses above or below), you can try to re-organize pieces on multi-pieced block styles; or cut units accordingly to get back to running bond.

Block Connections:

Each landscape wall block style will require a specific method of connecting each unit to the course below. As you add additional courses, you will utilize the connection method specific to the style of block you are using.

  • Pin-Connection System: (Country Manor, Verazzo 4-Face, California Chateau, Stoneface, & Compac III/Standard III Units)
    Place the connector pins into the pre-existing pin holes on the top of the units (Note: Use only one pin per set of holes. For free-standing walls, use the middle pin hole for vertical alignment. Use approximately 2 pins per block. In instances where the pin may not align with receiving channel of above block, the pin can be removed, and masonry adhesive can be used in its place. Pins will line up into the receiving channel on the bottom of the above block unit. If pin lines up with a core/cavity of the block above, use masonry adhesive in its place.
  • Masonry Adhesive: (Semplice & Country Cottage Units)
    For block styles that do not use a pin-connection system, secure courses with the use of masonry adhesive applied every other course.
Adding Additional Courses

Adding Additional Courses

Avoid Stack Bond When Stacking

Avoid "Stack Bond" (Joints Lining Up)

Step 4: Capping the Wall

The final step to finishing your wall project is the addition of a wall cap. There are a variety of caps to choose from that compliment each individual wall style. The addition of a cap adds a finished look to the final product.

Cleaning Wall and Installing Cap:

Once the wall has reached the desired height, clean off the last course of block in preparation for the cap or coping to finalize the wall. This can be accomplished by brushing with broom or hosing off. Once units are dry and clean, use construction adhesive for a mechanical bond. Cap may be flush or overhanging as required by aesthetics and design.

Finish wall with wall cap

Finish By Adding Wall Cap

Questions Along the Way? Contact an RCP location near you... we can help!

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