Making My own retaining wall blocks

inguvap(z6 NJ)April 4, 2005

I am seriusly thinking of making my own retaining wall blocks from the molds I am thinking of buying off ebay. I can buy 4 molds for about 80 dollars including shipping. In NJ, I visited varoius garden places including Lowes and Homedepot and the 600 blocks I need would cost me between 1100 to 1500 excluding the delivery. Plus, I do not need all at once so that means I have to get them delivered in batches and I have to pay for the delivery each time. I could make about 4 blocks with 1 bag of concrete(80lb) and I would like to know whether it is a good idea. I know it will take up a lot of time but I am not in a hurry to have them today. I could make 8 blocks per week and cure them for another week before I can place them in the garden. I have about 4 trees in the front yard and each of them need 60 blocks to have a nice retaining wall built around them. Please tell me that I am not crazy to get such an idea.

Did any of you do this sort of thing? I also would like to make my own stepping stones for my backyard walkway.


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Absolutely you can do this. Even without spending the money for the molds, if you want something simpler. Check out debzone8 album for a retaining wall done with hypertufa blocks she made. It IS on MY list of summer projects.

The stepping stones can be done quite easily as well. Just finished 200 6x6 "cobblestones" that will go down sometime in May and then I'll start my hypertufa retaining blocks.

Have fun!

Here is a link that might be useful: Hypertufa retaining wall/paver patio

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 4:50PM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Hi guys,

I posted a few new pictures in my album. I need to start up block production again and finish this project up. The thing is, I keep thinking of ways to extend it...

We worked all last weekend (in the rain) taking down the fence behind the arbor and bringing in soil to grow a line of arborvitae and enclose the spot with a tall, green garden wall. Somehow, the noisy neighbor kids' heads bouncing up and down above the fenceline (trampoline on other side) ruins the ambience of my tiny hidden patio :-)

All in all, I'd say that the only downside to making my own blocks is the monotony of production. It's well worth the tedium though; each block is different and the peat in hypertufa breaks down to make the blocks look pitted and old. The nooks and crannies are good moss collectors.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 2:56PM
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inguvap(z6 NJ)

I have not read instructions on Hypertufa recipes. But I started making the stepping stones with the concrete (premixed and bagged)and it is not as tough as it seemed. But I have not had the time to lay them on the ground so I am not sure about their strength.
Deb, what kind of molds did you use? The molds that I ordered are arc shaped 4" deep, 8" wide and outer edge is 11.5" and the inner edge is 8.5". I am hoping that I could make 4 or 5 blocks per bag (80lb.). I am still not sure about the time they have to be in the molds and how long it takes to cure them and all the other details.
Please let me know if tufa is the easier way to go.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 9:58AM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Padma, I made my own molds--if you click on the link in Loren La's post it will take you to my album. If you set it on "slideshow" it will take you through the album and you can see my forms and the curing blocks.

I don't think hypertufa is easier than readymix...I think it's more work. I was already involved hypertufa when I took on this project and decided that I wanted the look of hypertufa. Besides, I have a mixer and that helped, ALOT. If you tried hypertufa it would make your project a whole lot more complicated and harder to calculate amounts/costs.

I'm not an expert on readymix-- I think the best way to figure out your unmolding times would be to experiment. If you unmold too early and a block falls apart, you haven't lost much money. Sometimes with very green concrete you can just stick it back together anyway. As far as curing time is concerned, keep your blocks covered with plastic and misted for at least 48 hours and then set in a shady area to cure. Thirty days curing time is recommended but I have used blocks in two weeks (carefully, because they're still pretty fragile). I think concrete cures a little faster than hypertufa, anyway.

A wonderful book on concrete/cement art is "Making Concrete Yard Ornaments," by Sherrie Warner Hunter. It's full of recipes and directions. I'm waiting for the sequel from Amazon right now :-)

Good luck!


    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 2:11PM
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fitzpayne(z5a Quebec)

Deb_ What kind of projects does Sherrie Warner Hunter do in her book "Making Concrete Yard Ornaments"? The book says 25 projects, but I would love to more info if you have a moment! Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 5:17PM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

She gives directions for troughs, a sand cast picture/mirror frame, mosaic stepping stones, planters, a birdbath, a sphere, a lantern, fountains, a gazing ball stand, a bench, totems and other miscellaneous cement sculptures, some carved, some formed over armatures. She tells how to make pretty much everything we make over at the Hypertufa Forum, LOL.

Her directions are clear and recipes specific--well worth buying if you are planning to try cement art.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 10:43PM
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This is an old thread, but I made my own retaining blocks some years ago. Bought 1 block and made forms with 2x4's. It was economical, as I used pieces of broken bricks as filler. I would imagine you could put a couple empty coke cans if you wanted to reduce concrete. I would think they would be strong enough for flower bed borders.

A can has about 20 of volumn while a block has about 1 cu.ft. of volumn. Given the cost of concrete, I figure you could make for about half price.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 2:16PM
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