Retaining Walls Go Beyond Just Practical Design in Landscaping

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Retaining walls serve a dual purpose in any landscape design.  Not only do they hold soil or dirt behind them but they provide an aesthetic opportunity for any outdoor space.  Done correctly they can increase a home’s curb appeal while serving a practical purpose.

Common Uses for Retaining Walls

Typically you’ll see a retaining wall as part of the design of a yard or outdoor area when there is uneven elevation.  Retaining walls serve to not only maintain the soil where it is but is also  used by many retaining wall contractors to make a sloped plot of land more usable.

For instance many homeowners have used retaining walls to create a terraced design in their yards when a hill is at a steep angle. Creating these cascading terraces allows the area to become usable.  Many homeowners plant trees or other plants or create outdoor seating areas.  This is a common design in suburban areas where land plots are smaller and more likely to be built with little to no flat outdoor space.

Another common use for retaining walls in backyard spaces is when they are used to create raised planting beds.  This can be more common in areas where the soil has heavy clay or is heavily impacted and therefore too tough to dig and not hospitable to grass and other plants.

Retaining walls can be built in this instance to accommodate soil that is more workable.  Oftentimes they can be designed to incorporate additional outdoor seating.

Advantages of Retaining Walls

Obviously there are many advantages to incorporating retaining walls into your landscape design.  For one they are an integral part in reducing or preventing erosion.  For multi-level landscapes this is key.  They can prevent run-off and landslides and secure plants and vegetation in place.

Not only this but retaining walls can act as a clear boundary between one property and another.  They can be used to create a taller privacy boundary holding bushes and other shrubs off the ground so that the property boundary is not only clear but also aesthetically pleasing.

Another advantage is that retaining walls can do a lot to help prevent flooding and to direct the flow of water in an outdoor space.  They are effective and built to keep things in place so building them in strategic locations can help prevent damage to your landscaping by slowing down the flow of water and even diverting the run-off during storms.

Retaining Wall Designs

Natural stone

There is no doubt that natural stone retaining walls are a charming choice for any landscaping project.  Because they come in a variety of shapes colors and sizes they tend to be more flexible in terms of matching the decor and style of your home. They add a more natural looking element to any design. They also can lend a more upscale look to your landscape design.

The asymmetry of the stones does lend itself to working more closely with the materials and planning the design. Not only this but natural stone walls can be a great way to build in effective drainage.

Unfortunately natural stone walls are not recommended for larger retaining walls. Because these types of walls are not typically built with mortar they can be damaged and present a hazard. That’s why it is recommended that natural stone is used for shorter walls.

Cinder block/Concrete Retaining Walls

The advantages to concrete or cinder block retaining walls are many.  It is well-known that concrete is a durable material.  It can withstand heat moisture wind and more.  Along with the fact that they are among the most affordable options for a retaining wall that’s why it’s a top choice for retaining walls projects.

In terms of cons concrete retaining walls only have a couple.  One they have less options in terms of aesthetic elements. Whilte they do have a variety of colors and sizes and even shapes they don’t have quite the aesthetic flexibility that other materials do.  So they may not fit into the design you envision for your landscaping project.


Wood retaining walls can provide a real diversity of design options for your landscaping project.  For those who are looking to create retaining walls that have a more natural look wood is a good option.  Not only this but the lower price point is attractive too.  However wood deteriorates over time and ultimately does not last as long as other common retaining wall materials unless you purchase wood that is rated to withstand heavy or extreme duty.  Although wood used for retaining walls is treated with various preservatives it can still erode over time due to the exposure to moisture.  This should be something to keep in mind when planning out your landscaping projects.