Best way to level the base for SRWs

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by S&S Outdoor Services, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. S&S Outdoor Services

    S&S Outdoor Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 170

    I have some experience with retaining walls but it seems to take forever when we're doing the base layers. Does anyone have some tricks to get the gravel as level as possible so it doesn't take so long? Thanks in advance for the help.
  2. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,245

    I use 4" poly concrete forms, set them with the laser and then screed a real thin layer of sand over the base course and then just set the block. It works for me but I don't know anyone else that does it like this.
  3. Moneypit

    Moneypit LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    I leave my base about an inch or so high after compaction. Then my helper stays ahead of me with a laser level scraping the base level as I am installing the 1st course.
  4. csl

    csl LawnSite Member
    Messages: 235

    get yourself i really good laser or transit. ours is self leveling and is good to 1/8" at 500'. this will cost you $1200 or so, but on one big job you make it up on labor. NEVER use sand over your base rock to get level. you will have horrible settling and if the block manufacturer or supplier sees this they wont be happy.
  5. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,245

    You will not have settling as the sand is less than a 1/2" at the deepest. I got the idea from my block manufacturer.
  6. S&S Outdoor Services

    S&S Outdoor Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 170

    I have also heard it's alright to use an inch of sand or less to get the blocks level. I've been interested in using the method that Stuvecorp is talking about but have never seen it done. Could you go a little more in depth with that? Also, we are planning on spending around $1200 or so in the spring once we start getting some more hardscaping jobs. Thanks for the replies guys.
  7. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Both versa-lok and techo bloc recomend a sand leveling bed, techo bloc even sells a special screed system for this purpose. If I recall correctly, the instructor for my NCMA class also said it is ok.
    The trick is to get the gravel compacted and level so that the sand layer is kept pretty thin. If the compacted gravel is level and the sand bed is thin and uniform, you won't have any settling problem.
  8. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,245

    I'll try to find some pictures of the forms from a job. The forms are 15' long and are bendable so most sweeping curves can be done. They have clips that twist in a channel and a regular concrete stake goes through to hold it. I tried regular steel forms and it didn't work so great but love the poly ones. The cool thing is you can cut them to any size. I got them from Farrell Equipment.

    I have been told and have never done it, that you could pour concrete for the base if you wanted. I wonder if there would be any time savings or if the concrete would cost too much?
  9. S&S Outdoor Services

    S&S Outdoor Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 170

    I've also heard you can do a concrete base but it's supposed to only be one inch so it stays flexible. Maybe if you screed the gravel, pack it and screed a thin layer of concrete over the top...??
  10. shethinksmytractors_sexy

    shethinksmytractors_sexy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 119

    never use a concrete footer for a srw. that is just not going to work and plus cost will be alot more than gravel. after i excavate for the footer i set in rebar stakes every 6 ft. or so, using the transit each one is set at the desired height where they are all level. then put gravel in 3 inch increments and compact. this works best for me and is fairly quick and you have a nice level footer to work on

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