How to Choose the Right Retaining Wall for Your Landscaping

Sep 10, 2018

Retaining walls can be used in both functional and decorative capacities.  In some cases, properties feature hills with relatively steep grades that make the yard space virtually unusable.  Retaining walls can help to increase usable square footage by holding back earth at the base of the hill, but you could also terrace the hillside with a series of retaining walls to creating planting zones for vegetable gardens or landscape design, or even add paved patio seating areas.

Retaining walls can also help to add visual interest to flat and boring Sioux Center, Iowa properties.  By depositing soil strategically, you can add hilly areas with retaining walls to hold them in place.  You could also install planting beds around the perimeter of your yard or create free standing planters as focal points.  When executed properly, retaining walls can even serve as additional seating near planters, patios, fire features, and so on.

Before you start planning where you’re going to place retaining walls, however, you need to consider that different types of walls might work better for different purposes and types of landscaping.  Here are a few tips for finding the best retaining wall for your needs.

Heavy Duty

Many retaining walls are used for the functional purpose of holding earth in place, as with hilly properties or the addition of raised planting beds.  For this reason, they need to be robust enough to ensure that the weight of the earth they hold won’t knock them over, sending dirt spilling out onto your manicured lawn.

Block walls are ideal for this purpose.  Concrete blocks, in particular, are heavy and resilient, and you can stack them in a variety of ways to create a custom retaining wall for your yard.  These days, you can find them in different sizes, shapes, weights, colors, textures, styles and more to complete your custom look.

You’ll want to work with a landscape design specialist to make sure you select the proper materials for your intended usage, but you do have many options to explore.  If you find you don’t like the look of concrete blocks, you can always cover them.  One popular option is to add a stone façade to create the appearance of stacked stone at less cost that stacking natural stones.

Timber walls are another possible option for heavy-duty retaining walls, but they’ve largely fallen out of fashion.  They can not only prove pricy, but if you live in a damp area, even treated timbers will rot and deteriorate over time, which makes options like concrete and stone a lot more desirable.


Not all retaining walls are meant to perform the function of containing earth.  Some are designed to add decorative appeal, border pathways or patios, and add seating to your outdoor spaces.  For these purposes, you may find large, heavy concrete blocks to be overkill.  In this case, pavers are an excellent option.  With so many sizes, shapes, colors, and styles to choose from, including both manmade and natural stone options, you’re sure to find the perfect fit to complement your Rock Valley, Iowa property.