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The Home Depot

Yard Guide to Retaining Walls

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > Yard Guide to Retaining Walls
Yard Guide to Retaining Walls

There are more reasons to consider a retaining wall than to just hold back dirt and rocks. Consider them as outdoor walls. They can be built to landscape an inclined lawn. They likewise might be used to prevent erosion. You may want one to simply add depth to your existing landscape.


There are all types of materials from which to choose when building a retaining wall: Decorative stone slabs, concrete, large-scale rocks and wood.


The design of your retaining wall has the potential to transform your yard into a must-see, landscaper’s eye-candy.

  1. 1.Reason To Build

    The design of your retaining wall has the potential to transform your yard into a must-see, landscaper’s eye-candy.

    A retaining wall could be erected in one targeted area to serve as nothing more than a focal point or accent wall. Another treatment might be to create a system of tiered steps that can be filled with rich soil and used as planting spaces.


    Any way you want it will depend on quite a few factors. What will dictate the wall’s purpose are the slope and level of the ground. And if it’s to be practical, it will need a strong foundation with which to be built upon.


    Let’s say that the main purpose behind your retaining wall is to keep soil and earth from spilling into your yard. Then it’s paramount that the addition is structurally sound.

  2. 2.DIY vs. Professionally Built

    Planning this as a DIY project? Ask yourself, “How much do I know about appropriate engineering principles?” Another question before you purchase whatever materials you’d like to use is: What are the local building codes?


    Other considerations are: Determining the slope of the hill, how high does the wall need to be to do what you intended, have you accounted for drainage? Building a retaining wall is not an easy job. You truly need to think about going to and finding a qualified professional in your area to take on this task.


    If all you seek is a backyard accent, you’ll still need to design such a wall or tiered planter system with a landscaper.

  4. 3.Types Of Retaining Walls

    There are many types of retaining walls. The one that best suits your needs should be the primary focus. Here are some of the kinds of barriers from which you can choose:


    • Wood

    • Interlocking concrete blocks

    • Cinderblock

    • Stone

    • Brick

    • Mortar-less or dry-stacked field stone


    Poured concrete, which further breaks down into these 4 categories:


    • Gravity

    • Semi-gravity

    • Cantilever

    • Counterfort


    Working with a contractor on the design is not open to cookie-cutter solutions.


    You’re looking to protect your yard from erosion due to the weather. Then concrete blocks are the simplest fix. If the wall is being erected to further enhance the look, stone slabs, brick or wood might be the way to go.


    The actual construction of the retaining wall – for whatever purpose it may be used – should be done by a pro. And as in all cases, when hiring a contractor ask for licenses, proof of insurance and references from prior customers. This is a big project that’s going to cost quite a bit. Make sure it’s done correctly the first time so there is no second time to fix what went wrong with the initial installation.

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