After coming up with this great idea then realizing that it’s
already been done, packaged and labeled by a major hardware store chain, I decided
to do this project anyway. Also, the pre-designed one from the store was over
$600!!! This version cost me quite a bit less than $200.
I wanted to have a cool block end piece to a 1 foot
retaining wall I built in my yard. I knew I wanted to have lights incorporated
into it and knew I didn’t want to spend much money. So this is what I came up
with! Let’s build it!
(Unfortunately, I completed
this project prior to making this Instructable so I don’t have nearly enough
pictures but will do my best to explain).
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
- 20 blocks (12’ across, 8” deep, and 4” high) $2.88 each
- 6-8 glass blocks (8 for $50 at local hardare store chain)
- Low voltage lighting (wired into my existing yard lights)
- Glass top (could also use slate or wood or whatever you
would like). At least 20 inches square.
- 12” PVC pipe (or similar)
- Chisel (could use the claw of the hammer if you don’t have
- Tamper (could use anything that you could use to pound the
ground/gravel flat with)
First is a before picture of the area I will be working. I
removed the old railroad tie that was used to retain the dirt in the planter
area against the wall.
I dug out the surrounding area. I dug out about 3-4 inches
deeper than I wanted the bottom of the first course to be. And pounded the
ground to make a firm surface.
I filled the bottom with drainage gravel (aka pea gravel). This
helps with drainage (duh) and will make it easier to get the whole thing level.
Used the tamper and level to make the surface firm and… level.
Step 3: Block Placement
The picture shows the pattern I places the blocks. This
makes about a 4” cavity in the center of the pier to accommodate the light.
I used the hammer and chisel to chip off the side edge corner
of one of the blocks on the side of the pier (in an un noticeable place). This makes
a channel to place the PVC pipe in so you can feed the wire to the center for
Add the additional layers of blocks and make sure it is
perfectly level after placing each course.
Step 4: Glass Blocks
Due to budget constraints I used glass blocks that do not
have rounded corners (those were about $30 each and didn’t want to spend the
I wired the Malibu light in the center and left the hood off
so the light would shine up. Also, I added some aluminum foil to help reflect
the light up.
I put the glass blocks in the pattern in the picture. The since
I had 8 of them I put the 2 extra in the center laying down. This helped
reflect some more light and gave it a little more depth.
I put the top glass
panel on (took it from an old outdoor coffee table. Another good option would
be to use slate (about $6 at the hardware store).
Step 6: Build
You can use landscape block adhesive to bond the blocks
together. It is best to “dry fit” the whole thing together first to make sure it’s
exactly how you want it. I think I will not glue the blocks together and see if
it’s necessary in the future.
As for the glass, I used clear silicone to bond them together
without making it permanent.
An additional idea I had was to make Redwood corners for the
glass blocks. This would match my deck and would mean that I would only need 4
glass blocks. Still planning on doing that in the future.
Step 7: Finished!
Hope you all like this project. Please leave a comment with
any additional ideas and feedback.
Participated in the
Summer #mikehacks Contest