3 Things To Consider When Building A Retaining Wall

In many landscapes, it's necessary to hold back soil. In order to do this, retaining walls can be built. These walls can be just a couple of feet tall or much larger depending on the surrounding landscape. Retaining walls are used to prevent erosion, stabilize slopes, and keep a landscape looking a desired way. Building a retaining wall can be a major task. Some homeowners tackle it themselves, while others bring in the professionals. No matter which option is chosen, there are a few key things that must be considered when building a retaining wall.

Design And Materials

Retaining walls can be build from a variety of materials including concrete, boulders, rocks, and even timber. The cost can vary depending on the material used for the wall and the size of the wall. On average wood retaining walls will cost around $15 per square foot, concrete retaining walls around $20 per square foot, and natural stone more than $25 per square foot. Homeowners should consider which material and design will work best for them when considering a retaining wall. It's a good idea to pick materials that will complement the home. Concrete is an especially versatile material since it can be stamped and painted to look like wood and stone.


Size is important when it comes to building retaining walls. Not only does it take more materials to build a bigger wall, it also requires paying attention to the engineering of the wall. A larger retaining wall may require the expertise of an engineer in order to ensure that it is structurally sound. Walls larger than four feet tall usually fall within this category. Hiring an engineer can cost up to 17% of the total cost of the project.


Another thing to consider when building a retaining wall is whether or not there is proper drainage. Determining where water drains to is very important. Improper drainage can cause major issues with a retaining wall and can harm its structural integrity. Grading and excavating the surrounding area is key when it comes to having proper drainage in a yard. The cost ranges from $1,266 to $4,325. A drainage system may also be necessary in order to keep water from pooling around the retaining wall. Swales, french drains, and toe drains are often used around larger retaining walls.

Adding a retaining wall can stabilize a slope, prevent soil erosion, and add interest to a landscape. However, the building of a retaining wall should be considered carefully. Homeowners should look for a design and materials that complement the nearby home. Size is also important. The larger the wall, the more time that will need to be spent on engineering. Drainage is also very important. Improper drainage can ruin a retaining wall.