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Installation: How to Install a Free Standing Wall
Installing a Free Standing Landscape Wall

How to Install a Free Standing Wall

NOTE: This video highlights the steps involved when building a specific free-standing wall project; but the information can be applied to any free-standing wall project of your choosing. For questions on your specific wall style, help with estimating material, or for retaining wall information, please contact an RCP Block & Brick near you.

Overview: Getting Started

Free Standing Landscape Walls are designed to be used in simple instances as yard division, small seating walls, or used as aesthetic elements. They are not designed to hold back soil as with Retaining Walls. This guide is a general overview of free standing wall construction. If you need clarification on your specific wall type, please contact an RCP Block & Brick near you.

Required Tools

  • Shovel, Pick (for excavating base trench)
  • Wheel Barrow
  • Hand Compactor
  • Level
  • String line (for wall alignment)
  • Rubber Mallet (for block adjustments)

Things to Keep in Mind While Installing

  • The height of the wall design will determine which products you will be able to use.
  • All wall heights include any buried courses of block.
  • Any wall over 36" in height may be subject to permit requirements.
  • RCP Block & Brick provides free Standardized Manuals for many of our retaining wall products. These are pre-engineered specifications for common wall projects taller than 36". They will help save time and money during the permitting process.

Step 1: The Leveling Pad

The leveling pad is the first piece in all wall designs. This is the structure on which the weight of the wall will rest. It must be compacted and level to support the landscape wall.

Compacting the Leveling PadExcavate 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 the base trench to the designed width and depth. For base trench dimensions for your style of block, contact an RCP Block & Brick near you for information.

Install the Leveling Pad:

Stepped Leveling PadFill the prepared trench with a 6" base off well-compacted granular fill. We recommend 3/4" Crushed Gravel. Do NOT use pea gravel.

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


Step 2: The Base Course

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

Installing First CourseLaying out the Base Course

This first course will be placed below final grade. Meaning you will be burying the first (or more) courses. Place the first course of block units end to end on the prepared leveling pad. Make sure each unit is level - side to side and front to back. Leveling the first course is critical for accurate and acceptable results. Complete this first course before adding additional courses.

For Pinned Units: The long groove (receiving channel) on the unit should be placed down and the pin holes should face up.

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.


Step 3: Insert Connector Pins

*For Pinned Systems Only. For other styles, move to Step 4

The majority of our mid-sized and larger landscape wall block use fiberglass or molded pins to secure the block to one another. These pins fit into pre-existing holes on the top of each unit, and fit into the receiving channel on the bottom of the above block unit.

Installing Connector PinsInserting the Connection Pins

Place the connector pins into the pin holes of the units (Note: Use middle pin hole for vertical alignment. Other holes used with retaining wall applications). 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.

See Video on Inserting Keystone Connector Pins

Step 4: Additional Courses

This is where your landscape wall will start to take shape. As you add courses you will be able to make small adjustments and corrections.

Adding Additional Courses:

Adding Additional CoursesPinned Units: Place the next course of block units over the fiberglass pins, fitting the pins into the long receiving channel recess of the units above (Note: Some removal of debris in the pin holes and channel may be necessary prior to placement). Push the block units toward the face of the wall until they make full contact with the pins. If pins do not connect with channel but align in open core
of upper unit, use masonry adhesive to make connection. Continue steps 3, 4 and 5 until desired wall height has been reached.

Masonry Adhesive Connection: Some units require masonry adhesive for securing as they do not have any mechanical tie such as pins with the pinned systems.

Avoid Lining Up JointsKeep a Running Bond:

When stacking additional courses, make sure 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.

NOTE: At curves, course bonding will adjust sideways. If stack bond occurs, remove rear interlock lip or cut units accordingly to get back to running bond.



Step 5: Capping the Wall

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

Adding a Wall CapHow to Install the Wall Cap:

Continue all steps until ready to place the wall cap. Clean off the last course of block in preparation for the cap or coping to finalize the wall. With units dry and clean, use construction adhesive for a mechanical bond. Cap may be flush or overhanging as required by aesthetics and design.