My retaining wall is made of two parallel "walls". One is made of 16x8x12 Concrete Masonry Units and the other will be 8x4x2 bricks. The CMUs are to have mass to hold the hill, while 8x4x2 are to be pretty. There is no nice foundation, so both are sitting on ground and things will eventually move. Here is a visual:

two parallel walls diagram

I want to make sure that when 16x8x12 start moving, they will not make 8x4x2 bricks fall off.

The 8x4x2 is not built yet, the foundation is not made because I am doing it myself and it is very rocky. The walls are retaining a hill. The 16x8x12 bricks are not mortared. The same bricks (16x8x12) held up the hill for >= 10 years, but ended up leaning and turning, resulting in non flat wall. The wall itself is 2 walls meeting at a corner, each side being 288" (18 of 16x8x12).

The options thus far are:

  1. Do nothing, and hope for best
  2. Cement 8x4x2 bricks together
  3. Cement 8x4x2 bricks together, and to the 16x8x12 wall
  4. Put steel rods into 8x4x2 and 16x8x12 walls and bind the rods together
  5. Other?


  1. 16x8x12 CMUs - Ugly
  2. 8x4x2 Bricks - Nicer
  • 2
    Do you have any pictures or diagrams you could share with us? I have a fairly good idea I know what you want, but a graphic would make me certain.
    – ShoeMaker
    Apr 30 '12 at 3:48
  • 2
    What will the height and length of the finished wall be? What is above and below the wall?
    – uncle brad
    Apr 30 '12 at 15:15
  • Are the 16x8x12 blocks "proper" retaining wall blocks? If you have sufficient drainage, you might not need to do anything else. Is the second row of bricks just because the larger ones are unattractive?
    – uncle brad
    Apr 30 '12 at 20:52
  • 1
    Bricks? Or landscaping blocks? Or CMUs? Or...?
    – DA01
    Apr 30 '12 at 21:01
  • What is the wall retaining? Are the blocks mortared?
    – DA01
    Apr 30 '12 at 21:03

To tie two rows of bricks together you normally use to use brick (or cavity) ties, so these might be useful to tie the pretty bricks to the inner wall.

To help prevent the whole wall moving you need to basically "nail" the wall to the ground behind. This site has some examples. They don't look terribly pretty (though they are for large expanses), but if you want to stop the wall moving and collapsing it's what you need to use. You might be able to use something like this on the inner wall and then build the outer wall afterwards. At this point I'd probably consult an expert.


Those aren't bricks. Those are CMUs (Concrete Masonry Units). They should have mortar in between the joints, but if not, it's likely filled with concrete. Is it cracked at all anywhere? If it's not cracked and it's been standing for 10 years, you're probably OK with it as is.

You could go ahead and build a brick wall in front of it as ChrisF points out, but that'd be a lot of work. I'd suggest alternative means of dressing up the existing wall:

  • face it with brick. Instead of full bricks, it's a thin brick that you apply like you would wall tile

  • face it with stone. There's some really great concrete based stone facing systems on the market today. Like the brick facing, you'd mortar it directly to the current wall

  • stain/paint it. Concrete stain and/or paint might be the best bang for the buck (and your back).

  • vines. Attach a wire mesh to the front. Plant vines above or below it and train them to use the mesh. This is the 'green' solution. ;)

  • wood. You could create an interesting trellis of some sorts and attach it to the face of the wall. Or even 'side' it with cedar.

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