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73 Inspiring Retaining Wall Ideas

73 Inspiring Retaining Wall Ideas

A retaining wall is a structure that supports soil on different levels while preventing erosion and a sloping terrain. Retaining walls are often used to create functional outdoor spaces and can be made with wood, brick, stone, concrete and metal materials to suit any landscape design. If you have uneven ground in your front or back yard, these retaining wall ideas can offer affordable and thoughtful designs that will increase your property value.

While building some structures may require professionals, the cheapest retaining wall will be a DIY project using cinder block or wood for a clean, natural finish. Whether you’re building a small raised garden or installing a modern aesthetic structure, these walls must be sturdy, stylish and long-lasting.

From simple and easy to inexpensive, check out some of the best retaining wall ideas to inspire your beautiful landscape.

How To Build A Retaining Wall


Retaining Wall For Landscaping

Several different types of materials can be used to build a retaining wall, including boulders, bricks, concrete, stone, and wood. When choosing materials for a retaining wall, there are a variety of factors to consider, including cost, longevity, and sturdiness. If keeping your cost low is your main priority, you’ll want to use materials like concrete blocks or wood.

If you need a sturdy wall, poured concrete or stone is your best bet. Meanwhile, boulders and bricks are tried and true materials if you’re looking to build a retaining wall that will last for years to come.

The cost of building a retaining wall can range anywhere between $19 per square foot to $50 per square foot, and the materials you select will have a major influence on where you fall along that cost spectrum. Understanding the pros and cons of each type of building material will help you anticipate the costs of this undertaking.


Backyard Retaining Wall

Though retaining walls can add an attractive decorative element to landscaping, they are most often installed to address some kind of structural issue. If your yard has sloped areas, a retaining wall can prevent soil erosion while also making the layout feel more usable. Retaining walls can also prevent flooding caused by poor drainage.

Choosing the right placement is paramount when it comes to building a retaining wall that will stand the test of time. Mark the area at the base of a slope where the land flattens out with stakes to dictate where the foundation will go. You will still need to do further leveling, but this will give you an idea of where you will start building.

Before undertaking any construction, be sure to look into the zoning laws in your area. Because retaining walls can affect erosion and drainage patterns beyond your property, many jurisdictions require building permits for retaining walls.


Landscaping Wall Ideas

When selecting materials for a retaining wall, aesthetics are another aspect to keep in mind. Ideally, your retaining wall will enhance the architecture of your home. For modern homes, you can’t go wrong with the chic, contemporary look of poured concrete. Meanwhile, a rustic natural stone retaining wall is the perfect complement to a charming cottage.

If you’re building a small, simple retaining wall, you can probably design it yourself without any additional input. For more sprawling and complex projects, it’s best to consult with professionals like landscape architects and civil engineers. This will ensure that your retaining wall will be both visually appealing and structurally sound.

Wall Height

Small Retaining Wall

Whether they’re structural and load-bearing in nature or simply decorative, retaining walls on average tend to be between three and four feet tall. Though retaining walls can be ten feet tall or higher, anything above four feet in height is at risk for instability. In fact, many municipalities require professional-level engineered drawings for retaining walls higher than four feet.

Retaining wall height is another area in which it’s beneficial to know about your local zoning ordinances. Though it’s rare, some cities may require engineered drawings for retaining walls higher than two feet. Failing to follow the rules for your area may prove to be a costly endeavor.


Large Retaining Walls

Materials aren’t the only budgetary consideration when building a retaining wall. It’s also vitally important to account for labor costs. Many people plan to save money by building their own retaining wall, but that’s not always possible. While materials like concrete blocks and wood are relatively friendly to DIYers, retaining walls made from brick and poured concrete should be installed by skilled and experienced professionals.

Because retaining walls so often serve a structural purpose, it’s never a bad idea to get professional help during the design and installation process. Consulting with professionals like landscape architects, contractors, or civil engineers is the best way to guarantee that your wall will be functional for years to come.


Retaining Wall with Drainage

One of the main reasons people build retaining walls is to protect their yards against soil erosion. In sloped yards, rainfall can wash soil downhill and make the ground less stable. However, erecting a retaining wall without proper drainage can cause a new set of problems. Insufficient drainage can cause water to build up or pool behind the wall. This in turn can damage plants and soil and compromise the structural integrity of the retaining wall.

There are a few different ways you can incorporate drainage solutions into your retaining wall. First, you can install a drainage pipe with slots on all sides. This evenly distributes the runoff so you don’t end up flooding your neighbor’s yard. You can also backfill the area behind the retaining wall with crushed stone or gravel.

Types of Retaining Walls

Stone Retaining Wall

Stone Retaining Wall

Stone has been used as construction material for thousands of years. Despite advancements in technology, stone remains a popular choice for retaining walls thanks in large part to its durability and resistance to moisture. Quarried and cut directly from the earth, natural stone is also a more environmentally-friendly option than manmade materials.

Because natural stone is rough-hewn, it has a rustic charm that appeals to many homeowners. While surprisingly versatile, several different kinds of stone are well-suited for use in a retaining wall, including fieldstone, limestone, and sandstone. This variety gives you an endless assortment of shades, shapes, and textures to play with when constructing your wall.

Wood Retaining Wall

Wood Retaining Wall

Wood is one of the most popular materials for retaining walls, as it is both affordable and accessible to DIYers. However, this material also has some drawbacks. Wood doesn’t perform well in damp environments like the Pacific Northwest because it is prone to rot. Pests like termites can also undermine the stability of a retaining wall made of wood.

If you’re on a tight budget and need to do the labor yourself, wood may be the best option for you but even with proper maintenance, you’re unlikely to get more than a 20-year lifespan from a wood retaining wall.

Concrete Retaining Wall

Concrete Retaining Wall

Poured concrete retaining walls are created by filling casts with wet concrete and letting it cure and set directly at the site of construction. Also known as cast-in-place concrete, poured concrete differs from precast concrete slabs which are set elsewhere and then brought in for installation. Of all the materials used to construct retaining walls, concrete is arguably the strongest and most durable.

Poured concrete has a sleek and streamlined look that makes it a good match for homes with modern architecture. However, concrete can be poured in a variety of forms which gives it a lot of flexibility in terms of design style. Poured concrete must be poured by a professional, but its longevity is well worth the investment.

Brick Retaining Wall

Brick Retaining Wall

With their classic and tasteful aesthetic, brick retaining walls are a perfect complement for a traditional-style home. More importantly, there are many practical reasons why brick is ideal for a retaining wall. Not only is this durable building material water resistant, but it can also keep fire from spreading. Brick is also eco-friendly, as it’s made from plentiful natural materials including clay and shale.

Like poured concrete, brick should be installed by an experienced professional. However, once it’s been placed, a low-maintenance brick retaining wall will last for years to come with little upkeep required.

Raised Garden Bed Retaining Wall

Raised Garden Bed Retaining Wall

In addition to being functional, retaining walls are often naturally decorative. Raised garden bed retaining walls are an excellent example of a structure that embodies both characteristics. When you construct a garden bed out of materials like wood or stone, you can build raised garden beds directly into the top. A retaining wall already creates visual interest in a yard by breaking up visual planes. Incorporating a garden bed into a retaining wall will give you the opportunity to bring in different colors and textures.

When it’s time to fill up your new planters, colorful flowers are the obvious choice but raised garden beds are also great for cultivating an herb garden. If it turns out that gardening isn’t in your skill set, you can also fill these beds with decorative gravel for a more modern look.

Block Retaining Wall

Block Retaining Wall

If you love the strength and durability of poured concrete but don’t have the budget for professional installation, concrete block retaining walls are a fantastic alternative. Concrete blocks are one the easier retaining wall materials to work with at the DIY level, and it’s sturdy enough to hold fast for decades.

Though you may think of clunky cinder blocks when you picture this building material, there are plenty of attractive options available at your local gardening or home improvement store. Because they come in so many shapes and sizes, you can even create curved walls.

Natural Rock or Boulder Retaining Wall

Boulder Retaining Wall

If you look back throughout history, you’ll find that the earliest retaining walls were made from boulders. Boulders have the strength and longevity of concrete and natural stone, but because they require less refining they are much more budget-conscious. And, since these massive rocks will naturally have some gaps between them, retaining walls made from boulders have drainage already built in.

Because boulders come in different shapes and sizes, your boulder retaining wall will have an organic look that’s well-suited for a country or English-style garden home. Boulder retaining walls can be installed as a DIY project, but they can be heavy and unwieldy to transport.

Tiered Walls

Tiered Walls

A system of tiered retaining walls features a series of two or more stacked walls. In this system, the higher tiers will be set back from the level beneath them, creating a staircase-like effect. This building technique is perfect for yards with tall, steep slopes, as each level will add foundational support against the weight of the soil. A tiered retaining wall also creates a striking focal point that gives your yard a sense of sophistication.

While you can design a tiered retaining wall by doing it yourself, this complex construction may be best left to the professionals. This is especially true if you require more than two tiers as multiple tiers need to be staged precise distances apart to be structurally effective.

Cheap Retaining Wall

Cheap Retaining Wall

When it comes to any type of home improvement, the easiest way to save money is to do it yourself. This saves you money on labor costs, making it so that you only have to consider the affordability of materials. If you’re looking to save money, you should start by ruling out brick and poured concrete as they require professional installation. You may also want to stay away from tiered walls for the same reason.

Inexpensive Retaining Wall Design Ideas

Boulders, concrete blocks, natural stone, and wood are the most affordable and DIY-friendly materials for retaining walls. It’s difficult to do a side-by-side price comparison as the amount of material you need will be highly dependent on the project, but overall you can expect to spend the following:

  • Boulders: Between $100 and $600 per ton, depending on the type of stone you choose and any transportation costs
  • Concrete blocks: $1 to $3 per brick
  • Natural stone: $8 to $12 per square foot depending on the type of stone you select
  • Wood: $15 per square foot

In addition to the immediate costs of the building materials, you should also consider other factors. Wood may be less expensive than some of the other materials listed, but wood retaining walls tend to last for twenty years at most.

Cheap Retaining Wall Ideas

If boulders are the most affordable option for you, think about the size of your yard. Because boulders are so large, they can eat up a lot of square footage in a smaller space.

Retaining Wall Design Ideas

Gabion Wall

Gabion Retaining Wall

This tiered outdoor structure is composed of two levels of gabion walls, which utilize rectangular baskets constructed out of thick galvanized wire. These baskets are filled with rocks or crushed concrete, then stacked on top of one another to create a retaining wall. Gabion walls are most often used in industrial settings to shore up bridges or embankments, but their low price point has made them increasingly popular in residential applications.

Cohesive Cabin

Wood Retaining Wall Design

Perhaps the simplest way to make sure that your retaining wall coordinates with the architecture of your home is to use the same materials. This vertical retaining wall features the same wood and the same stain as the horizontal logs in the cozy cabin it borders. Using materials that are left over from the construction of your home is also a great way to make the most of your investment.

Chic Casual Cottage

Stone Retaining Wall Landscape

English gardens came into fashion in the 18th century as a form of rebellion against the more symmetrical, architectural gardens that had previously been in vogue. This less formal approach to planting creates a lush, romantic garden that feels entirely organic. This boulder retaining wall also features thin slabs of shale which enhances the unstudied feel of the sprawling garden.

Staggering Style

Wood Retaining Wall Landscape

One of the disadvantages of using wood is its rigidity. Unlike poured concrete or concrete blocks, wood doesn’t give you the ability to create curved lines. Stepping up different sections of a wood retaining wall is a simple way to an intriguing style element to an otherwise simple design.

Step It Up

Multiple Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are the perfect way to transform a sharply-slanted yard into a more easily-navigable landscape. The retaining walls in this multi-level side yard feature a combination of rough-edged slate and basalt. Combining materials like this introduces additional colors and textures for a more layered look.

Cap It Off

Block Retaining Wall For Landscape

When you’re surrounded by natural beauty like this dense forest, the last thing you want is for your retaining wall to take attention away from the view. These buff-colored concrete blocks have an earthy, neutral hue that blends in with the scenery instead of fighting it. Adding capstones to the top of your retaining wall will give the piece a more refined and finished feel.

Timeless Style

Front Yard Garden Retaining Wall Design

This quaint bungalow features several of the hallmark characteristics of the Craftsman style of architecture, including columns, detailed wood trim, a wood and glass door, and a large covered front porch. The Craftsman era was also defined by its reliance on natural building materials like this basalt retaining wall. Even though the Craftsman period ended nearly a century ago, this home and the surrounding landscaping feels current and fresh.

Curves and Swerves

Stone Retaining Wall Design

While retaining walls are often functional, they can also be purely decorative. Here, a retaining wall has been used to create a raised garden bed instead of serving a more structural purpose. The serpentine shape of the retaining wall adds visual interest to the yard and softens the boxy angles of the adjacent house.

Break The Mold

Xeriscaping Garden Retaining Wall

Though poured concrete retaining walls tend to have a modern aesthetic, they can be surprisingly adaptable. The subtle color variation in this poured concrete wall adds a sense of warmth that plays perfectly off the stuccoed walls and Spanish-tiled roof of this Southwestern-style home.

Desert Drainage

Cinder Block Retaining Wall

If you live in an arid environment, you may think you can get away without including drainage in your retaining wall but drainage is a crucial component in retaining walls, even in areas that receive very little precipitation. Here, a simple PVC pipe blends in seamlessly with the textured white concrete blocks.

Light It Up

Modern Retaining Wall For Front Yard Garden Landscape

If you’ve decided to hire a professional to install a retaining wall, it can give you the chance to go all out. Here, a gray brick retaining wall is part of a larger multi-level feature that creates a grand entrance in front of this sophisticated home. The recessed lighting under the capstone adds just the right amount of depth and drama.

Straight and Narrow

Classy Retaining Wall For Modern Backyard Landscape

Building a home on a steep hillside and a narrow lot poses a lot of logistical challenges. This inaccessible backyard has been transformed thanks to a retaining wall and other hardscaping elements. On the lower level, the retaining wall doubles as bench seating complete with a built-in firepit. On the upper level, the retaining wall works as a raised planter that hosts smaller plants alongside majestic palm trees.

Mix It Up

Boulder Retaining Wall Design For Modern Home

As a general rule, your landscaping should coordinate with the exterior architecture of your home. However, sometimes it’s necessary to create contrast through your landscaping. This contemporary home felt a little sterile, but the addition of a limestone boulder retaining wall framing lush greenery gives it a cozy, organic vibe.

Go Big and Go Home

Retaining Wall For Front Yard Landscape

Building your home on a hillside allows you to play with unusual architectural layouts. This mountain retreat features a two-story building on the lower ground that transitions into a one-story home on top of the hill. A retaining wall of this height should be built by a professional to ensure its stability.

Mellow and Modern

Luxury Retaining Wall For Elegant Home

Modern architecture often incorporates elements like gray concrete, black iron, and large planes of glass. While this effect is striking, it can also feel a little sterile. This modern waterfront home feels warm and welcoming thanks to the earthy, tan undertones in the poured concrete walls. Honey-toned wood accents complete the look.

Designer Impostor

Red Pavestone Retaining Wall

If you love the look of traditional red brick but don’t have the budget to hire a professional mason, concrete blocks can be a budget-friendly alternative. These rust-colored blocks evoke that brick look but are relatively simple to install as a DIY project. Colorful caladium plants echo the rich reddish hue of the concrete stones.

Hedge Your Bets

Building A Retaining Wall

When your yard is divided into multiple levels by retaining walls, you can experiment with your landscaping. The top level of this yard is framed by neatly-trimmed evergreen hedges, while the lowest level will soon be fully enveloped by mossy ground cover. Planting flowers in the middle raised garden bed tier will be a fun way to include a pop of color and break up all the green.

Stone on Stone

Garden Retaining Wall In Backyard

If you have a large backyard, using multiple types of rock is a great way to break up the space. In this eclectic yard, earth-toned flagstone retaining walls contrast against the gray and red mosaic patio. An assortment of colorful flowers helps tie the disparate styles together.

Stepping Stones

Landscape Retaining Wall For Garden

Outdoor staircases are a common feature in split-level backyards, as they create an avenue for people to move throughout multiple spaces. Here, a stone staircase has been built directly into the concrete block retaining wall. Because the stairs use the same capstone and facade of the retaining wall, the entire installation has a cohesive feel.

Nurture Nature

Retaining Wall Garden

In a sharply-inclined yard like this one, retaining walls and other hardscaping elements are a necessity. However, they run the risk of detracting from the natural beauty around your home. You can avoid this pitfall by choosing a natural stone for your retaining walls like the rough, earthy flagstone seen here. These rustic, unpolished retaining walls are the perfect backdrop for these native plants.

Fake It Til You Make It

Retaining Wall with Steps and Garden

If natural stone is out of your budget, artificial stone may be a good alternative. Faux stone veneers are durable and long-lasting and can be half the cost of natural stone material. Artificial stone also gives you a little more control when it comes to color selection, as evidenced by the subtle, smoky shading in this retaining wall.

See The Bigger Picture

Steps and Planter Boxes With Retaining Wall

Retaining walls are a great way to transition between spaces in an uneven yard, but a stand-alone retaining wall can feel a little disjointed or out of place. In this yard, the concrete blocks and capstones are carried upwards to create a tree planter and a designated play area, helping the overall landscape design feel more intentional.

Weatherproof Your Wood

Sturdy Low Retaining Wall

While “lumber” and “timber” are often used interchangeably, the difference is that lumber describes wood that has been cut into planks, while timber refers to wood that is significantly less processed. If you’re building a pine plank retaining wall like this one, be sure to pressure-treat the lumber first to protect against the elements and prolong its longevity.

Simple and Subtle

Landscaping Retaining Wall Design

It’s hard to tell that this home is situated on a precipitous slope because the gently-curved retaining wall softens the visual impact of the dramatic dropoff. The retaining wall also doubles as a large raised garden bed, further camouflaging the structural feature and making it feel more natural.

Sustain with Stain

High Wood Retaining Wall

Pressure-treating the planks is crucial if you want to extend the lifespan of your wood retaining wall. In addition to enhancing aesthetics, painting or staining the treated wood adds another layer of protection from the elements. Here, a walnut brown stain takes knotted pine planks from plain to polished. Be sure to wait until the wood has completely dried after pressure-treating or else the stain won’t adhere.

Mixed Materials

Mixed Material Retaining Wall

Because retaining walls make such a strong visual impact, they can take attention away from the rest of your yard. These wood slat walls draw the eye up and back so you can take in the full expanse. The long narrow slats echo the shape of the stones in the retaining wall, helping tie all the structures together. Meanwhile, the honey-toned wood lightens up the heavy gray stonework.

Tiering Up

Garden Retaining Wall Design

If your yard has a steep drop-off, installing multiple low retaining walls is a great way to soften the slope and make the decline seem more gradual. The buttery golden color of this block terrace brightens up the landscape and makes the grassy bunches of vetiver appear even more verdant.

Wall of Many Colors

Large Retaining Wall For Pathway and Steps

The vast square footage and steep grade of this yard necessitate a massive and sturdy retaining wall. The decision to use multiple colors of stone keeps this bulky structure from looking to imposing, as it blends in beautifully with the colorful foliage beyond. The inclusion of reddish stone in the retaining wall helps smooth the transition between the stone staircase and the elevated brick patio.

Optical Opportunities

Simple Front Yard Retaining Wall For Modern Home

If you have a modern or contemporary home, you have the chance to subvert expected norms. This poured concrete retaining wall is asymmetrical, giving it a cool, futuristic feel. Because the concrete is a paler gray than the charcoal tile on the house, it creates the illusion that the front yard is deeper.

Puzzle It Out

Beautiful Large Stone Retaining Wall

Building a retaining wall out of reclaimed granite blocks is possible, but it does require some patience and planning. Each layer needs to be as level as possible which means you have to be thoughtful about fitting each block together. This kind of rustic design doesn’t require mortar, but you may find that plants start to creep between the cracks.

Shift Your Shapes

High End Retaining Wall For Landscaping

This modern home is surrounded by a poured concrete retaining wall, yet it doesn’t feel cold or institutional. This can be explained by the use of multiple shapes and forms. While the wall on the left side of the staircase is sharp and angular, the wall on the right is a series of tiered curves. The spiky mat rushes in the planters have a chaotic quality that contrasts cleverly against the smooth concrete.

Ahead of The Curve

Low Profile Garden Wall

If your yard lacks a steep incline but is slightly uneven, a small retaining wall can still be a big help. This serpentine sandstone retaining wall visually levels out the yard while separating the garden from the grass. The rough cut of the stones is a good match to the wildly abundant pink and white petunias overflowing over the wall.

Find Your Coordinates

Stylish Affordable Retaining Wall

This backyard has a pre-existing patio composed of russet-colored stones broken up by bits of gray. When it came time to add a retaining wall, that color story was continued. Even though the concrete blocks in the wall are rougher and more porous than the patio pavers, the commonalities in the color scheme help them flow naturally together.

A Walk In The Woods

Timber Retaining Wall

This reclaimed wood beam retaining wall has a naturalistic feel thanks to visible knots and the slight color variegation throughout from being weathered over time. The wooden walkway is a deeper gray hue than the wall which adds a little contrast and keeps the two structures from blending together.

Consistency Is Key

Short Retaining Wall For Front Yard Garden

This charming suburban home and the retaining wall surrounding it are both constructed from the same gray brick. Using the same materials throughout your design will give your home a more polished look and amp up your curb appeal. The raised garden bed created by the retaining wall contains trees with dense foliage, creating shade and lending a sense of privacy to the home.

Hot Tub Hideaway

Back Yard Retaining Wall

Bucolic surroundings imbue this cozy cottage with a magical, fairytale-inspired quality. Shade trees and lush, tiered foliage are penned in by a gently-curved fieldstone retaining wall. The round shape of the secluded hot tub mimics the sinuous bend of the retaining wall. Fieldstone pavers tie in the modern hot tub with the quaint environment all around it.

Bridge The Gap

Dark Wood Retaining Wall For Back Yard Garden

In this backyard, organic elements like mulch and greenery feel disconnected from modern elements like gravel hardscaping and concrete pavers. These disparate styles are unified by the mixed-material retaining wall dividing the two areas. Using concrete, iron, and stained wood in the retaining wall lends a sense of continuity to the overall space.

Double Bed

Charcoal Pavestone Retaining Wall

The grade of this yard was so steep, it necessitated the installation of a stone staircase to travel between levels. Building a single retaining wall would have made the divide seem sharp, and jarring. The addition of tiered garden beds supported by concrete pavers helps the transition feel softer and more natural.

Dual-Purpose Drainage

Modern Luxury Retaining Wall

With the massive height of this retaining wall, drainage was an absolute necessity. Instead of hiding the drainage solution out of sight, consider turning it into a visible water feature. This backyard has a zen quality and sense of movement thanks to the cleverly planned design.

Carve Out Your Space

Rock Retaining Wall In Backyard For Landscaping

In this terraced backyard, a hillside has been leveled into flat sections, giving a staircase-like effect. The rough-hewn gray sandstone has been incorporated into the lower retaining wall as well as the upper retaining wall and staircase, giving the space a cohesive feel.

Change Your Direction

Small Wood Retaining Wall

If sustainability is a priority for you, reclaimed railway sleepers are a fantastic option for building retaining walls. Cutting them in different sizes and placing them vertically gives you the ability to play with different heights to produce a wavelike effect. In this yard, the oak sleepers have also been laid horizontally and filled with gravel to create a shallow staircase as well.

Budget Wisely

Short Garden Retaining Wall For Backyard

This impressive backyard boasts a sizeable retaining wall that transitions into an elevated platform framed by columns. Though these features may look like they’re crafted from natural stone, they are actually a much more budget-friendly artificial stone. These savings allow homeowners to splurge on other amenities like a wrought iron fence and wood trellis.

Box It Up

Low Retaining Wall For Front Yard

For people who live in condominiums or apartment complexes, decorative low-profile retaining walls can serve as an aesthetically-pleasing way to create separation between neighboring units. This angular wall unit gains additional height from the neatly-trimmed box hedge running around its upper perimeter.

A Work of Art

Modern Wood Retaining Wall For Back Yard

This yard has such a sharp incline that it would be virtually impossible to convert the landscape into a usable outdoor space. Even if you can’t physically benefit from your backyard, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the view. This steep space has been terraced with wood retaining walls that form several garden beds that can be admired from a narrow patio down below.

Blend Into The Background

Luxury Retaining Wall For Curb Appeal

While retaining walls can serve as striking visual focal points, some homeowners prefer these features to be a little less intrusive. This tiered sandstone retaining wall is similar enough in hue to the warm beige house that it fades into the surroundings, allowing the verdant lawn and foliage to shine.

Choose Your Wood Wisely

Affordable Wood Retaining Wall

As we know, wood retaining walls are probably the simplest ones to DIY but they don’t usually last as long as walls constructed from other materials. To get the longest lifespan out of your self-built retaining wall, take care in selecting your wood. Cedar and redwood are both resistant to rot and can last from ten to twenty years when prepped and maintained correctly. Pine or fir that is pressure-treated and rated for ground contact may last as long as forty years in the right environment. Douglas fir is particularly long-lasting.

Tasteful and Timeless

Modern Retaining Wall Landscape Design

When landscaping a large area, using multiple materials can help the space look less designed and more as though it evolved naturally over time. The top part of this yard is hemmed in by a dark gray stacked stone retaining wall and staircase. Meanwhile, the lower level is centered around a flagstone and granite stepped walkway lined by a decorative border of small boulders.

Here Comes The Sun

Amazing Retaining Wall Design

It’s always important to keep your environment in mind when designing your landscaping. You can tell this house is located in a hot, arid environment thanks to the presence of drought-tolerant plants like agave and sedge. Dark stone absorbs light and holds heat, so it wouldn’t be well-suited to this climate. The lighter-colored limestone in the walkway and retaining wall is a much better option.

Shop Local

Front Yard Retaining Wall

One of the easiest ways to keep your costs low when building a retaining wall is to source materials that are close to home, as it will save you money in transportation costs. The Pennsylvania fieldstone pictured here is popular along the Eastern seaboard as its prevalence in that part of the country makes it more cost-effective.

Build It Up

Upscale Stone Retaining Wall For Landscaping

Retaining walls are typically used to create flat areas on sloped land, but this design element can also be used to add elevation to a single-level space. This dry-stacked retaining wall has been used to create a raised garden bed full of succulents, wildflowers, and other low-maintenance plants.

Take It To The Top

Low Maintenance Concrete Retaining Wall

This low-profile concrete block retaining wall has the look and feel of natural stone thanks to the addition of subtle coloration. Adding matching capstones to concrete blocks can also make them feel more elevated and elegant.

Keep It Casual

Beautiful Retaining Wall For Pathway

The steeply graded hill this home sits on necessitated an enormous amount of hardscaping features to make the space functional. If they had been built with different materials, elements like a lengthy staircase, low columns, and rounded retaining walls could have made the space feel too staid and stuffy. Leaving the stone rough and rustic gives this entrance a more appealing and accessible vibe.

Cracking Up

Stylish Stone Retaining Wall Design

If you need to install a retaining wall but prefer a more natural look, a boulder retaining wall may be the perfect compromise. These boulders have gaps between them for drainage, which also allows plants like moss and creeping phlox to break up the solid rock facade. This imperfect installation helps the space feel more spontaneous.

Downhill Slope

Wood Retaining Wall For Front Yard

This yard originally featured an elevated retaining wall that was at a right angle to the sidewalk. While it made the space more functional, the sharp transition was a little harsh on the eye. Building an additional retaining wall with a slight downward slope helped soften the profile of this property by creating a feeling of progression.