Adding Lighting To Retaining Walls

Landscape Lighting Retaining Walls for your Maryland, DC, or Northern Virginia home

Lighting Garden Walls

You can learn about lighting for your retaining walls and add another awesome element to your hardscape or garden! This post also covers the steps you can take to install them yourself if you'd like to. Lighting your retaining walls can add elegance to your yard at night as well as brighten areas where installing lighting can be difficult.

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Strip Lighting For Retaining Walls

You can take LED strips of lights and attach them to the underside of a retaining wall lip. At night the light will be cast down the wall and can show off the textures and patterns in it. Since they are out of sight, it creates a sort of mysterious light as no one can see the source.

Built-In Down or Uplighting

Landscape lighting retaining walls can also be done with uplighting or downlighting. These lights are bigger, brighter, and spaced farther apart than the LED strip lights. They can better light the area below and around it so people can see the natural areas and/or where they are walking.

How To Install Landscape Lighting For Retaining Walls

Here are the tools you will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Small sledgehammer
  • Caulking gun
  • Block adhesive
  • Philips head screwdriver
  • Masonry chisel
  • Writing utensil (marker or pen is best)
  • Hammer drill with a 1/4" masonry drill bit
  • 4" or 4-1/2" angle grinder with a diamond blade

Once you have these you can begin landscape lighting retaining walls in your yard!

This is the process for when you're working with a segmented stone block retaining wall

Steps To Add Lighting To Your Retaining Walls

  1. Use the writing utensil to mark where you want your lights to go (not applicable if using strip lights).
    6-7' apart is a good measuring point
  2. Take the masonry chisel and gently hammer it into the crack between the capstone (top ledge) and rock beneath. Don't force it too much if it won't fit, just move to a different spot. You'll feel the glue loosen as you take the stone off.
  3. Unbox the fixture and set the wire where the capstone used to be.
  4. Use the writing utensil to mark along the wire (you'll grind it later so the wire can fit under the capstone).
  5. Take the 4-4 1/2" diamond blade grinder and score the line down so the wire fits completely into it.
    try 1/2-3/4" deep and wide
  6. *Optional*- Put the fixture on the wall and mark where any holes need to be drilled. You can skip this step and use landscape block adhesive instead, but don't put too much or it'll come out the sides of the fixture and glue the stones together.
  7. Take the 1/4" masonry drill bit and drill holes for the masonry anchors 3/4-1" deep.
  8. Blow the dust out of the holes and insert the anchors.
  9. Screw the fixture in place.
  10. Strip the wire ends, make a waterproof connection, then bury it behind the wall.
  11. Clean the stone off and put some masonry glue around the light.
  12. Put the capstone back on.

Freestanding Retaining Walls Have Some Differences

  1. When marking where the wire will go, only mark to the center of the stone.
  2. Then, cut the wire 7-8" on one side of the mark and move the ends out of the way.
  3. Use the 4-4 1/2" diamond blade grinder to score the stone back to where the mark is.
  4. Widen out a gap where the mark is as this is where the connection will be made (4-5" long, 2" wide, 1-1 1/2" deep.
  5. Follow the above steps concerning fastening the fixture to the wall.
  6. Strip the cable ends and make the connections so they fit into the slot.
    Use adhesive lined, heat shrink connectors to keep them compact and waterproof.
  7. Make the connections, slide the sleeves over them, and use a torch to shrink the tube around the connection.
  8. Clean, use masonry glue and replace the capstone.

Lighting Your Walls

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