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I have two projects and I'm hoping there's a synergy between them. The first project is the demolition of a small cinder block wall that has just been completed. The second project is building a retaining wall out of stone. Question: can I smash the cinder blocks with a sledge hammer and use the result as a foundation for the retaining wall instead of modified crushed stone? If the answer is yes, that would save me the cost of dumping the cinderblocks and the cost of getting the crushed stone. enter image description here

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  • Maybe but this will be back breaking work. How much and how coarse? – Matthew Sep 6 '20 at 4:09
  • Renting a jack hammer would smash em up fast. – Steve Wellens Sep 6 '20 at 4:36
  • Reminds me of when I replaced my single oven in a brick wall with a double oven. The wall is two brick faces with chimneys for the fireplaces (fireplaces upstairs and downstairs on one side) and the oven (upstairs, other side) in between. It turns out that underneath a thin cement layer below the oven, the wall was filled with broken cinderblock & stuff - the builder just threw everything in there. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Sep 6 '20 at 18:40
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Depends on the height of the retaining wall and what it’s holding back.

We like footings on undisturbed soil. In fact, depending on the soil we might compact it too.

If the soil is soft, we may require a few feet be removed and replaced with compacted gravel. This will help distribute the load over a greater area (the gravel area is usually 2 times wider than the footing) and rests on soil several feet lower so it will be stronger.

However, the gravel is not a random mix. The gravel is uniformly mixed with specific set of type, grade, amount, etc. that is designed to be compacted. So, if you just break up the cinder blocks, the breakage will be random and cannot be compacted properly.

If the retaining wall is only 2-3’ tall, then this will not be a problem. However, if the retaining wall is 8’ or more, then the compacted gravel must be done properly, including doing the lifts in 6-8” each and compacted as it’s installed up to 95% by volume.

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  • Thanks. What's a "lift"? – Wynne Sep 6 '20 at 6:15
  • If you need gravel that is, say 36” deep, then it should be installed in layers (lifts) of 6-8” deep and then compacted. This will insure that it’s all compacted correctly. – Lee Sam Sep 6 '20 at 7:27

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