Landscaping Retaining Walls

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are effectively used in several places throughout a yard and serve many purposes.  The most popular area to use a retaining wall is on a slope.  However, they also work well in small areas and planted areas.  In small yards the walls create space that is more useable by leveling out an area.  With planted areas the walls prevent erosion.  Retaining walls can be built around a specific feature, such as a tree, in order to save it if it is experiencing erosion.

Homeowners usually build retaining walls for their ability to reduce erosion, but sometimes they are built for decoration purposes.  These commonly come in the form of garden walls.  They are also used in landscaping to create a terraced gardening area.  These walls are often functional like standard retaining walls, but they are usually smaller and more attractive.

There are several material choices when it comes to building a retaining wall.  We are going to look at a few of the popular materials.


Natural Stone

This material comes in both bricks and naturally round stones.  The stones used in these walls vary in size, but they are often large.  They can be built with or without mortar.  If the wall consists of round stones it will need mortar to properly hold it together while a wall using bricks does not necessarily need mortar.  There are several aesthetic options within this material, including caps.  A cap is put on the wall when either a layer of mortar is put as the top layer of the wall or specific stones are strategically placed as the top layer.  The stones also come in a range of colors.  Natural stone is a popular choice because it looks sophisticated, and is considered one of the most attractive materials.

Concrete Blocks

These blocks are often used for garden walls or for creating an elevated gardening area.  Retaining walls that are built with concrete blocks are very strong and low maintenance.  The blocks work well for both short and tall walls.  They also do not rot in areas of the country where there is a high amount of annual precipitation.  Like natural stone, concrete blocks can be assembled with or without mortar.  The blocks are convenient for designing a visually pleasing retaining wall, because they come in several colors and textures.

Poured Concrete

This material is designed to be used on very steep slopes or in areas with heavy soil where other materials would not hold up.  Poured concrete holds up very well in these conditions because it creates very stable retaining walls.  Sometimes people are hesitant to use this material because they do not want a wall that is so plain, but it can be colored, polished, and molded to be more attractive.


Retaining walls made of timber are a little less common than some of the other materials because they fit well with a specific style of house.  They look best with houses that are rustic.  However, they are easy to use because steps and angles can easily be added to a design.  Timber is a less expensive alternative to other materials.  It generally comes in brown and green.