If you're looking to improve the overall look of your landscape, retaining walls could be the answer. They are not just aesthetically pleasing but also serve an important purpose in landscaping. Retaining walls help in soil erosion control and can help level areas that are sloping or uneven.  In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of materials used in building retaining walls, the process of building one, and the associated costs. We'll also highlight how incorporating a retaining wall can make your landscape more functional by expanding usable yard space and adding curb appeal to your property. So if you're considering improving your outdoor space, read on to learn how retaining walls can take your landscaping to the next level.

Understanding the Concept of Retaining Walls

Retaining walls serve multiple purposes in landscaping. They prevent soil erosion and create usable space, maximizing outdoor areas. Proper drainage is crucial to prevent water buildup that could damage the home's foundation. Design options include block, wood, stone, or metal walls. Building retaining walls requires careful planning, considering factors like local building codes and wall height. These walls can also be used creatively to enhance the landscape's aesthetic with beautiful flower or garden beds.

What is a Retaining Wall and Its Purpose?

Retaining walls serve a crucial purpose in landscape design. They prevent soil erosion, manage water runoff, and create usable space. Made of concrete blocks, stones, or wood, retaining walls can transform your outdoor area into terraces, garden beds, or additional living spaces. Proper installation ensures stability and longevity.

The Impact of Retaining Walls on Landscape Design

Retaining walls enhance landscape design by adding depth and visual interest. They create different levels for hardscaping elements like patios and seating areas. Additionally, they serve as backdrops for landscaping features such as flower beds or succulent planters. Retaining walls prevent soil erosion, protect the home's foundation, and maintain landscape integrity. Factors like wall material, height, and drainage should be considered when incorporating them. With careful planning, homeowners and DIYers can create stunning landscapes using these versatile structures.

Materials Used in Building Retaining Walls

Block retaining walls are versatile, affordable, and easy to install. They offer design flexibility and can be used in various outdoor spaces. Wood retaining walls provide a natural, rustic look that can be customized for any landscape design. Natural stone retaining walls are timeless and durable, adding beauty and sophistication. Steel or metal retaining walls are strong, long-lasting, and have a modern appeal. When choosing a material for your retaining wall, consider functionality, aesthetic, and budget.

Block Retaining Walls

Block retaining walls are a great solution for stabilizing slopes and creating terraced landscapes. Made from concrete blocks of different sizes, shapes, and colors, they offer design flexibility. The first course of blocks is important for stability, drainage, and alignment. To ensure longevity, proper backfilling, water drainage, and soil compaction are crucial. Additional courses of blocks are stacked on top, interlocking with the previous rows to create a durable wall. For visual appeal, you can enhance block retaining walls with decorative wall stones, flagstone, or pavers.

Wood Retaining Walls

Wood retaining walls provide a warm and natural aesthetic to your landscape design. Pressure-treated wood is commonly used due to its durability, longevity, and resistance to rot and insects. Proper installation includes reinforcement, drainage, and backfilling. Wood retaining walls offer customization options for height, shape, and design. Higher walls can be built with railroad ties or additional blocks. Regular maintenance such as staining, sealing, and replacing damaged wood is important for their longevity.

Natural Stone Retaining Walls

Natural stone retaining walls are a timeless and elegant solution for landscaping. They are durable and provide long-lasting functionality. The variation in stone sizes, shapes, and colors creates visually appealing designs that complement different landscaping styles. Proper excavation, backfilling, drainage, and reinforcement are crucial for stability. Securing the stones with mortar, cement, or gravel ensures a sturdy structure. Natural stone retaining walls enhance outdoor spaces and elevate the aesthetics of a home's foundation. They are often chosen by homeowners, DIY enthusiasts, and landscapers for their ability to create taller walls, address hillside challenges, and add beauty to outdoor areas.

Steel or Metal Retaining Walls

Steel or metal retaining walls are known for their strength, durability, and long lifespan. They enhance contemporary landscaping designs with a modern aesthetic. These walls can be pre-engineered for easy installation and customization. Factors like drainage, backside flanges, and soil reinforcement should be considered during installation for optimal performance. Steel retaining walls are low-maintenance, resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage. They are an ideal choice for homeowners seeking a reliable and long-lasting outdoor solution. Retaining Walls

The Process of Building a Retaining Wall

Planning the location of a retaining wall is crucial. Factors like soil type, water drainage, and the wall's purpose should be considered. Leveling the ground ensures a solid foundation and proper alignment. Excavating the trench, backfilling with the right materials, and compacting the soil are essential steps. Building the first course of blocks or stones accurately sets the foundation for subsequent rows. Proper drainage is key, using drain pipes, pea gravel, and backfill material. Follow these steps to create a sturdy and functional retaining wall for your outdoor space.

Planning the Location and Leveling the Ground

When planning the location of a retaining wall, it is important to consider topography, water drainage, and intended functionality. Level the ground, remove obstacles, and compact the soil properly. The installation process depends on factors like wall height, building codes, and chosen material. Constructing a retaining wall involves excavating a trench, creating a solid foundation, and backfilling. Accurate leveling of the first block or stone course sets the groundwork for subsequent rows.

Laying the Base and the First Course of Blocks

To ensure a stable and durable retaining wall, proper soil preparation is crucial. Consider the wall's height when choosing blocks, especially for taller walls needing extra support. Installing drainage pipes behind the first course of blocks is essential for water drainage. Use a rubber mallet and masonry chisel for precise block installation. Follow these steps for an effective base and first course, resulting in a strong and long-lasting retaining wall.

Additional Courses and Drainage Considerations

To ensure proper water drainage behind a retaining wall, backfill with pea gravel. Follow local building codes for structural integrity when installing subsequent rows of blocks. Use uniform retaining wall blocks for a consistent appearance. Enhance the landscaping appeal by incorporating flower or garden beds. Install drainage pipes at the top of the wall to redirect water runoff. By following these steps, you can improve the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your retaining walls while managing water effectively.

The Cost Aspects of Installing a Retaining Wall

When calculating the cost of installing retaining walls, consider the linear footage and materials needed. Labor costs should also be taken into account, whether hiring professionals or doing it yourself. Don't forget to calculate the cost of blocks, pipes, and backfill materials. Excavation and foundation preparation costs should also be factored in. Choose a wall material based on longevity and functionality, such as concrete blocks or natural stone.

Retaining Wall Cost Per Square Foot

Calculating the cost of retaining walls requires considering the square foot measurement of the wall. Factors like the type of wall material, reinforcement needs, drainage requirements, and excavation costs will influence the overall cost estimation. It's also essential to account for any additional landscaping or hardscaping features that may affect the final expenses. To get a precise cost assessment, consult with local retaining wall installation professionals who can provide accurate estimates based on your specific project requirements. By taking into account these factors, you can determine the cost per square foot and plan your retaining wall project accordingly.

Factors That Affect the Cost

The cost of installing retaining walls depends on several factors, including the wall height, soil type, drainage requirements, local regulations, and choice of material. Additional landscaping features can also impact the overall cost.

Benefits of Incorporating a Retaining Wall in Your Landscape

A retaining wall in your landscape offers several benefits. It expands your usable yard space, enhances aesthetics, and adds value to your home. Retaining walls prevent soil erosion, ensure landscape integrity, and facilitate proper drainage. They can also be designed to fit seamlessly with your landscape's style and functionality, providing practicality and visual appeal.

Expansion of Usable Yard Space

Retaining walls provide functional benefits and expand usable yard space. They allow you to create outdoor living areas or patio spaces that were previously inaccessible. By leveling out uneven terrain or building terraces on a hillside, retaining walls add more usable square footage to your property. You can choose from materials like concrete blocks, railroad ties, or natural stone to match your home's foundation style. With a retaining wall, your outdoor spaces can become beautiful and functional extensions of your home.

How Can Retaining Walls Add Curb Appeal to Your Property?

Retaining walls enhance curb appeal by adding structure and visual interest to your landscape. They can showcase plants and flowers, define different areas of your yard, and create a cohesive look. Retaining walls offer versatile design options to add curb appeal to any property.


Retaining walls not only serve a functional purpose but also add aesthetic appeal to your landscape. They create usable yard space, prevent soil erosion, and can enhance the overall look of your property. Whether you choose block, wood, natural stone, or steel as your material, retaining walls are a versatile addition to any landscape design. While the cost may vary depending on factors like size, materials, and labor, the benefits make it a worthwhile investment. If you're considering adding a retaining wall to your landscape, contact us today to discuss your options and get started on transforming your outdoor space.