How to build a retaining wall

111+ Awesome Retaining Wall Ideas

Building a retaining wall is one important task that can not be trivialized. If your mind is set on doing it, then you just have to see to it that it is done properly otherwise, there is a cost attached to a shoddy job done on a retaining wall which I am sure you don’t want to pay.

I can imagine the tirade of questions that will literally run through your mind when you ponder on how to build a retaining wall. You would certainly want to know of the critical steps you must take in this mission in order not to have the wall coming down like the biblical Jericho walls.

Even if you have access to large stones probably to your location, you would not want to embark on this all important task before getting the nitty-gritty of the business.

One important fact you need to know today if you don’t know already is that the construction of a retaining wall is an art that has been passed down through the generations. You can confirm this simple fact and truth by going through the photos and books on archeological building sites.

The common thing that was done by these ancient builders was to make use of stacked stones that provided walls that have defied all odds and still stand their grounds till date.

In this article:

How much does it cost to build a retaining wall?

This can be a bit of a project to take on, and you need to make sure that you have the funds ready before you embark on it. Getting a retaining wall installed in your yard is something that can vary greatly in price.

These projects can often be completed using as little as a few hundred dollars, but they can also be as much as several thousand dollars. How much your retaining wall is going to cost is going to depend on a lot of different decisions that you make.

Retaining walls can be pretty inexpensive, depending on the material that you use, but they can also sometimes be a great expense for homeowners. Before you commit to purchasing anything, you need to do some thinking about what you want.

If you have a better idea of what you want to do specifically, then you are going to be able to estimate your costs much more effectively. Spend some time sitting down thinking about what you want, and then you can really begin to think about what a retaining wall will cost you.

#1. Things that Affect Prices

One thing that is definitely going to affect the price of your retaining wall design is what you want to use to construct it. There are lots of different materials out there, so you need to think over these options when you are looking at your budget.

If you want to keep your costs down, then you may want to go with wood for your project. If you want to spend a little bit more money, then you should look into other materials like concrete or stone. All of these materials have different advantages and disadvantages, but if you are looking for a deal on prices, then you need to choose the inexpensive options.

Another thing that is going to affect the price of your retaining wall is how large you want it to be. If you are just trying to create a small retaining wall for your garden, then you might not have to spend a lot of money.

If you need a much larger retaining wall, then this is obviously going to cost you a great deal more. If you want to get a really good sense of what it is going to cost you to get a retaining wall for your yard, then you need to do some measurements and find out just how much materials you are going to need.

#2. Building and Installation Costs

The price of your retaining wall is going to come down to a lot of different things, but one of the most important is whether or not you plan to build and install the retaining wall yourself. If this is a project that you feel you can complete comfortably on your own, then you are not going to have to pay any of the sometimes hefty costs charged by contractors. You could save a lot of money on your project overall.

Before you commit to doing this project yourself, you should think about a few things. The materials that you use could be heavy and it can take a lot of time to lift these things. If this is something that you don’t want to deal with, then you should consider taking on the extra expense. Contractors can add quite a bit to your retaining wall cost bill, but you won’t have to take on the extra stress of building the wall yourself.

What is the Best Material to Use on a Garden Retaining Wall?

If you are thinking of building a garden retaining wall, then you need to spend some time thinking about what kind of material would be best for you to use. These walls can make a lovely addition to any garden, and not only provide functionality but also aesthetic beauty.

Don’t make a decision regarding the materials you want to use for your garden retaining wall without looking into all of your options. You’ll be able to make a more sound decision once you have done some research and know what will be best for your specific situation.

Before you select a retaining wall price estimate for your garden, there are a couple of things that you really need to keep in mind. One thing that you need to think about is the pressure of the soil that your wall is going to have to be able to withstand.

Generally, this is a lot of pressure, so you need to go with a material that can stand up to this well. However, this is not the only thing that you need to think about. You also need a wall that is going to be porous, so that proper drainage can occur.

Choosing Stone Retaining Walls

One of the most popular materials that can be used for garden retaining walls is stone. Usually when homeowners go with this option, they choose either rubble or dressed stones. What you want to do will really depend on your personal preferences and your budget.

If you are going to go with the stone option for material, then you have to choose between two different types of construction. You can choose from a dry wall construction or a mortar construction for your stone garden retaining wall.

When you choose the dry wall construction option, you will be choosing an option that requires you to use earth between the stones that you have chosen for your retaining wall.

Usually, homeowners who go for this option will choose stones of several different sizes and use the larger ones at the bottom and the smaller stones at the top. The earth that is used as a filler for these walls is going to allow for an appropriate amount of drainage. This is a really great option that, because of the earth filling, allows for a more natural look than some of the other options out there.

If you choose to go with the mortar option, then you will not be using the natural element of earth between your stones. Instead, you will be using cement as a means of bonding the stone together for your retaining wall.

A lot of people choose this option for their garden retaining walls because they believe that it can provide a lot more structural integrity for the wall than something like the dry-wall option would provide. When using this material, though, you need to make sure that each stone is level and that you have used an appropriate amount of mortar to properly bond the stones.

Other Popular Choices

Another popular choice for garden retaining walls is wood. There are lots of different types of wood that can be used for these walls, and many homeowners often choose them because of their aesthetic appeal. These kind of retaining walls can work very well if you have a rustic looking home because this materials is going to compliment it perfectly. Also, wood is not a very costly material, so you can get your project done right and save some money at the same time.

How High Should my Retaining Wall Be?

Building a retaining wall can be a great way to stabilize slopes in your yard and create some really usable space. If you are thinking about building a retaining wall on your property, then you’ve got a lot of different decisions that will need to be made.

One thing that is going to be of utmost importance is just how high you want your retaining wall to be. To make this decision, you should think about what purpose you want the retaining wall to serve and how much money you have to spend on materials.

To decide just how high you need your retaining wall to be, you might need the help of a professional contractor who has experience in building and installing garden retaining walls.

These professionals are probably going to be able to better estimate what your needs are than anyone else out there, so contacting them to take a look at the space where you plan to put the retaining wall may be a good idea. When you do call a professional in, he or she will need to look at the height of the slope on each side of the wall to determine a good height.

Deciding on an Appropriate Height

A lot of professionals suggest that a retaining wall be kept around 3 feet tall or lower. This is because you have to make the wall tall enough to serve it’s purpose as well as make sure that it is not too tall.

When a retaining wall is too high, it actually has a greater chance of not functioning properly. As the height of the retaining wall goes up, the force working against the wall will increase as well. As such, it’s really important that you do not build a way that is too high.

If you choose to go with the recommendation for building a small retaining wall of about 3 feet high, then you are probably going to have an easier time constructing it.

It can take a lot of time and effort to build a retaining wall, so going with one that is not so high is probably going to save you a lot of time, energy, and money. If you can get everything that you need out of a wall that is only a few feet high, then there is no reason for you to build a larger one.

Another thing that you might want to consider when you are deciding on an appropriate high for your retaining wall is whether or not there are any laws in your state that regulate the height of walls or fences that can be built.

Some states are going to have some regulations that might require permits for things like these, depending on where you are trying to build them. You should look into this before you make any decisions regarding your wall, so that you can be sure to be in total compliance with the law.

Consider Budget Concerns

Another thing that might help you to decide on how high you want your retaining wall height to be is how much money you can spend. If you are opting to go with an expensive material, then it might cost a lot to build a really tall wall in your yard.

If you want to go with something cheaper, like wood, then you might have a little more room. You should really just think about what you want your retaining what to do and to look like. This will help you to decide on how tall it’s going to be.


They did not arrive at the secrets of building such walls in a day but through trial and error, they stumbled upon the secrets of laying up such monumental walls that still describes their ingenuity to date. By making such previous works as guides, you can have better understanding on how to build a retaining wall.

Before you erect a retaining wall, you should first consider the forces that will contend with. Wherever you intend to build your retaining wall, the temperature prevalent in the area will be take its toll on the wall. With time, you can expect that erosion will also cause wear and tear on your retaining wall.

When you are constructing your retaining wall, you should make considerations for the slope gradient, the steeper the slope of sand you are trying to hold back, the more difficult and greater the strain is on the retaining wall.

One other factor that is not easily assessed yet so powerful in the pulling down of all retaining walls is gravitational force. The idea behind the building of a retaining wall is to hold back some soil which the earth is trying to pull towards its center at the same time.

From the foregoing, it is imperative for you to know that your retaining wall must be well reinforced and strong enough for it to withstand all the militating forces that will work against it. You don’t want to underestimate these forces as they are what can lead to the collapse of your retaining wall before you can have the time to celebrate its construction.

When you have plans to build a retaining wall, consider using large stones as they have large surfaces that can touch each other and their interlocking effect can render great help. The friction produced when these stones rub against each other works to reduce the effect of the pushing force generated by the soil.

If you don’t know how to build a retaining wall yet, take note that the height of a retaining wall is a function of the risk of the walls collapse or failure. When tall retaining walls are constructed, there is a higher attendant risk of their failure. With an increasing height of the retaining wall, the combined forces that work against its erection would multiply.

If you can keep your retaining wall at a height under 3-feet, you should be better assured of its success and longevity. For one thing, such walls are not difficult to construct and also gravitational force on them is minimal. A technique you may also want to apply is to make the wall lean back a bit when you are constructing it. With this technique, the center of gravity is offset and this makes it more difficult for the wall to tip over.

You can take cue from older retaining walls that you have seen in your neighborhood especially those ones made from stacked stones. Look carefully at the conditions they are and try to relate this with their ages.

You can also measure the heights of these walls and the sizes of the stones used and then the type of construction method used. A whole lot of damage can be done to your retaining wall by frost.

When the soil freezes with frost, it will expand and on any normal flat surface, the expansion can be experienced in an up and down direction. When frost is adjacent to a retaining wall, it can also push sideways and frost usually will release it’s built up expansion pressure along the path of least resistance.


How to build a retaining wall | 111+ Retaining Wall Ideas

Concrete Retaining Wall Designs

1. Creative Retaining Wall

2. Simple Concrete Retaining Wall Backyard

3. Concrete Retaining Wall with Visual Interest


4. Concrete retaining wall form

5. Concrete Reinforced Retaining Wall Design Tables


6. Decorative Concrete Retaining Walls Popular Designs Stamped Wall

7. Traditional Exterior


8. Bluff House rear deck

9. A contemporary retaining wall landscape


10. Grass Terraces


11. The Bottle & The Bowl


12. Concrete paver retaining wall landscape


13. A mid-sized modern backyard landscaping


Wooden Retaining Wall Ideas

1. Buderim Meadows


2. Mosman contemporary landscape


3. A mid-sized contemporary partial sun backyard landscaping


4. Wooden Barrier

5. Timber & stone

6. Plywood and trim board Fence Wall


7. Wooden Retaining Fences

8. Seattle Retaining Wall Contractor

9. Curved timber retaining wall with vertical railway sleepers

10. Retaining Wall with a bench

Rock & Stone Retaining Wall Ideas

1. Concrete paver garden path


2. A large traditional partial sun backyard stone garden path


3. A mid-sized traditional backyard concrete paver retaining wall landscape in Omaha


4. Minimalist concept

5. Retaining Wall With Edged Path

6. Double Wall

7. A traditional partial sun backyard stone retaining wall landscape in New York


8. Patio – small rustic backyard stone patio idea in Denver with a fire pit

9. A large traditional backyard stone landscaping in DC Metro with a fireplace

10. Carousel Stone

11. Outdoor room


12. A lounge

13. Retaining Wall in Congruent Shapes

14. Iron fence

15. Brick retaining wall in Omaha


16. Concrete paver landscaping in Providence


17. A contemporary hillside retaining wall landscape in Seattle


18. Traditional Side

19. Barrier Wall

20. Natural Retaining Wall

21. Chilton Splitface Natural Retaining Wall Stone


22. A beach style full sun stone garden path in Providence


Garbion Retaining Wall Designs

1. A rustic retaining wall landscape in Boston


2. A craftsman front yard retaining wall landscape in Portland


3. Neutrally colored stones

4. Wire Netting

5. Caged


6. Gabion small retaining filled with terracotta


Tired and Sloped Retaining Wall Ideas

1. Versa Lok Wall

2. A timeless exterior home remodel in Cincinnati

3. A large contemporary full sun hillside concrete paver formal garden in New York

4. A mid-sized traditional shade backyard stone landscaping in Philadelphia

5. Multilevel wall

6. Retaining wall holds shrubs

7. Backyard Slope Turned Into Usable Space


8. Retaining wall in Michigan


9. Stone labyrinth


10. Steel Walls


11. Bunny Run


Retaining Wall With Step Ideas

1. A large modern drought-tolerant

2. A full sun hillside gravel retaining wall landscape in San Francisco

4. Stairwell to a secret garden

5. Ornate garden

6. Stacked planters

7. Grass Steps


8. Stone Curving Steps w Lamp Posts & Walls


Retaining Wall With Water Feature Ideas

1. Garnet Residence


2. A stone retaining wall landscape in Orange County


3. Pond with retaining wall


4. Courtyard pond


5. Water feature and fire bowls


6. A mediterranean water fountain


7. Split level garden


8. Wake Forest Retaining Wall and Water Feature


9. Rustic Artisan Tudor


10. Water fountain


Brick Retaining Wall Designs

1. Italian motif retaining wall


2. Concrete paver landscaping


3. Clean cut


4. Stone stairway

5. Stone patio with fire pit


6. Retaining wall landscape in Minneapolis


Garden & Landscaping Retaining Wall Ideas

1. Natural stone terraces support walks and patio with meadow garden


2. Stacked Stone Retaining Walls


3. Tyre gardening


4. Garden Wall With bench

5. Planter wall

6. Craftsman brown three-story mixed siding gable roof idea


7. Traditional shade hillside landscaping


8. Dirt, stone and fire pit

9. Interlocking wall


10. Criblock Planted Retaining Wall


11. Planter bed


12. Hammock

13. Fruit Trees with Soil-Biulding Meadow Understory


14. Buderim Meadows


15. Slated fence

16. Living patio

17. Rock fountain

18. Atherton garden


19. Design ideas for a contemporary hillside gravel landscaping in Melbourne


Retaining Wall Lighting Ideas

1. Large elegant backyard concrete paver patio


2. A large southwestern full sun front yard


3. Breathtaking brick


4. A contemporary backyard outdoor sport court


5. A huge contemporary driveway


6. Large mediterranean beige two-story stone gable roof


As you may just be learning how to build a retaining wall for the first time, you may not know how to deal with issues concerning frost and your retaining wall.

One way you can deal with this issue is to backfill the wall using well-drained materials. Retaining walls themselves can be constructed using any of these materials: poured concrete, wood, decorative stackable concrete blocks, concrete blocks etc.

Your learning of how to build a retaining wall would however be incomplete without knowing the basic thing about the base of the wall. Do make sure that you set the foundation of your retaining wall in a solid soil.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here