19 Types of Retaining Wall Materials and Designs for Your Yard (2023)

Epic retaining wall guide setting out the 11 different materials you can use to build a functional, durable, strong and beautiful retaining wall as well as 8 retaining wall designs.

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By definition, a retaining wall is a structure that is used for supporting the soil mass laterally, so that the soil on different sides of the wall is retained at different levels.

Retaining walls are, thus, used to bound two soils between two different terrain elevations in situations where possessing slopes would be undesirable. Such situations include building a basement, but the more common instances when we use retaining walls are gardening and landscaping.

Of course, although it is very easy to assume that a retaining wall is simply a wall that was built to hold a certain type of soil, things are not as simple as they seem. For instance, unlike normal walls that have lateral support at the top, retaining walls don’t. Normal walls are built to bear vertical loads while retaining walls are dealing with horizontal loads.

Obviously, this difference entails different engineering approaches. Unlike the situation when we want to simply separate an empty space, the presence of vertical load can be addressed with the use of gravity walls, piling walls, cantilever walls, and anchored walls.

However, in a huge number of situations (gardening) the vertical pressure is not that horrifying, so the ability of the wall to carry the bear of the load is mostly determined by the ability of the build material to deal with this situation.

Therefore, we will take a look at some of the most common build materials and see how well can they play the role of a retaining wall.

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A. 8 Retaining Wall Designs (Diagrams)

Below is a series of diagrams showing how to to make strong retaining walls. We set out several structural approaches.

1. Anchored Wall

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2. Cantilevered “L” Wall

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3. Cantilever Wall

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4. Counterfort Wall

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5. Gravity Wall 1

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6. Gravity Wall 2

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7. Piling Wall

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8. Achored Wall (Screw Design)

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B. 10 Retaining Wall Materials

1. Concrete Blocks

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Concrete blocks are a very modernand sophisticated material. Because it is artificially produced, concrete offers a lot of flexibility and variety to choose from. Also, in spite of the common belief that concrete blocks leave a very sterile impression, this material plays extraordinary well with the Spanish architectural style. Concrete walls are usually designed to be set on a compacted gravel base and remain strong even when you apply pressure.


  • Durability – A concrete wall can often last up to a whole century.
  • Variety – Concrete blocks come in different shapes and sizes and can be used to create curves.
  • Ease of installation – Concrete block walls are usually much easier to install than some other, more labor-demanding block types.
  • Low maintenance– You can clean the blocks only once per year.
  • Eco-friendly – Concrete walls are non-toxic and they do not emit allergens or dangerous chemicals.


  • Architectural demands – Concrete walls have to be carefully designed, so you should ask for a professional advice about the issues of drainage and effective support. Also, the lack of proper support may affect durability.
  • Lack of height – Concrete block walls can be used only for walls that are no taller than four feet. So, if you, for instance, want to raise your rose beds to higher levels to protect them from deer, you will have to look for another material.
  • Complicated to remove – If you ever decide to change the placement of the wall, you will have to undergo a lot of trouble to dismount it.


Concrete blocks usually have very balanced and uniform prices. Capstones usually cost approximately 95 cents apiece while the average cost of the block is 1-3$.

2. Stoneveneer

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Stone veneer is a protective materialthat can be used as a decorative covering for vertical walls and surfaces. That means that the veneer itself is a purely aesthetic element and it needs a solid core to even work as a wall (a role usually played by CMU blocks). However, it looks stunning (stone veneer simply oozes luxury) and brings enough of its own unique personality to earn a spot on the list.


  • Durability – The natural stone is a powerhouse build material. Stone structures are capable of withstanding centuries of abuse, and your retaining wall (or at least its façade) will be capable as well. It will not fade, and it will not crack.
  • Look – Natural stone has a very beautiful aesthetics and texture. Beautiful patterns, unique shapes or even the lichen growing on the rock are very hard to be emulated by other materials.
  • Light weight – Although not amongst the lightest materials on the market, stone veneer is reasonably light. That makes building the wall much easier.
  • Flexibility – The solid core can be built in literally any thickness or height.


  • Cost – Unlike some other, manufactured materials, natural stone is not that affordable.
  • The ease of installation – Installation of stone veneers usually involves the services of a professional contractor.
  • Design problems – Matching all the individual pieces with existing architecture is not always easy.
  • Solid core – Stone veneer is not a freestanding element, so you will have to double the work.


The price of stone veneer usually varies from $6 to $9 per square foot.

3. Poured Concrete

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Poured, or how people like to call it cast in place concrete is a very popular architectural option produced by pouring the concrete directly into the forms on the site. Since it looks very clean-cut and sterile, poured concrete plays along the best with the modern-looking surrounding. The ability of the concrete to support the soil load depends on weather conditions and other elements.


  • Strength – Since it features much bigger density than block walls, the walls built out of poured concrete are much stronger as a result.
  • Variety – Concrete can be poured in any form you can think of. That gives you a lot of design options to choose from.
  • Consistent look – The concrete may look sterile, but at least it looks consistent. You always know what you’ll get at the end.
  • Flexibility – Poured concrete makes incorporating other architectural elements like, for instance, drainage systems very easy.


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  • Susceptible to crack – Concrete walls usually need some kind of structural support (e.g. steel rods). If they don’t, they may crack.
  • Building requires a lot of skill – The formsyou are going to pour concrete in must be immaculate and perfectly set up. The required skill makes it very difficult residential project.
  • Moisture – When exposed to excessive amounts of water, concrete tends to become unacceptably damp. That may damage surface treatments such as paint.
  • Vulnerability to chemical damage – Concrete can be easily damaged by a number of chemicals like chlorides, sulfates, and even distilled water.


Estimating the price of the poured concrete is not that easy because you have to take into account the costs of concrete forms, sub-base preparation, reinforcements, and finishing. However, we can say that, on average, the price per square foot varies between $3.25 and $5.25, or $93 per cubic yard.

4. Brick

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Brick is one of the most popular building materials, and it is very easy to see the appeal. First, in contrast to concrete, and even stone, bricks feature a very warm and inviting look. They do a wonderful job complementing traditional homes and landscapes. But, the look can push some building material only so far. Bricks have a lot of other good things working for them as well.


  • Low maintenance – Brick is a relatively low-maintenance building material. Also, it retains color rather well so you won’t have to bother with painting for too often.
  • Eco-friendly – Bricks are made out of some of the most abundant and eco-friendliest materialsin the world – shale, and clay. Also, bricks can be later repurposed for other landscaping projects like walking paths.
  • Weather and fire resistance – Bricks are playing extremely well with the elements. They are not damaged by dampness, and they can withstand a lot of abuse caused by flying debris. Also, bricks are not combustible and don’t help the spread of fire.
  • Durability – A solid, well-made brick is as durable as you can wish for. Nowhere near as durable as stone, but durable nevertheless.


  • Price – Bricks befall into the upper price segment of outdoor building materials.
  • Color limitations – Although they come in a range of different colors, compared to some other materials, bricks do not offer the same degree of variety.
  • Heavy – Bricks are quite heavy material. You have to pay attention to make your retaining wall a solid foundation.
  • The lack of flexibility – Changing the outer appearance is problematic, but nowhere near as problematic as replacing a damaged brick.


A brick with a selling price of $340 will cost you $1.96 per square foot. A brick costing $500 per thousand will require that you pay $2.88 per square foot.

5. Wood

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Wood shares a lot of same qualities as bricks. Both these materials have been with us forever, they both lend the space they occupy a sense of nostalgia and warmth and they are both made out of widely accessible materials. However, when it comes to their building material properties, they couldn’t be further from each other.


  • Natural look – Wooden walls have a tendency to blend into the landscape quite seamlessly.
  • Cost – Wooden retaining walls are usually very cost effective.
  • Ease of installation– Wooden retaining walls are very easy to install which makes them an ideal DIY landscaping project.
  • Lightweight – Although reasonably durable, wood is a very lightweight material that is easy to dismantle, move around and repurpose.


  • Limited lifespan– Out of all materials on the list, wood probably has the shortest lifespan. However, with the proper maintenance, you will be able to squeeze good 20 years of serviceout of it.
  • Wood rots – With the proper treatment this unfortunate outcome can be postponed but not avoided. If you are living in an area that sees a lot of rain, you should probably skip this material.
  • Strength – Although they can handle retaining walls under the height of four feet, wooden planks are not recommended for some more complex projects. They can protect your plants from the smaller breeds of rabbits, but they won’t cut it when it comes to bigger and agiler pests.
  • Susceptible to termites– If you don’t pay enough attention these small pestscan ruin your installation.


Wood retaining walls usually start $15 per square foot.

6. Boulders

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Boulder walls are, without any doubt, one of the oldest and the best lasting kinds of man-produced structures. Unlike quarried stone or manufactured modular blocks, boulders are widely available and ready to go even without any additional refining. At the same time, they retain most of the positive aspects of the furnished stones and can last you a century (at least). Stone boulders are a perfect fit for any kind of country, colonial, or English-style garden.

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  • Natural look – Boulders are a great match for any kind of rustic home or landscaping design.
  • Ease of use– Boulder walls are extremely convenient to build. Some of the projects can be easily accomplished simply by stacking the boulders on top of each other. Building the wall doesn’t involve expensive equipment.
  • Availability – Boulders of all colors and sizes are extremely easy to obtain and at a very affordable price.
  • Durability – As we already mentioned, boulder constructions are in use since the beginning of humanity. Some of them are still alive and well. That should serve as an enough of a testament to boulders’ durability.


  • Size – Boulders tend to be quite large. So, if you own a smaller yard, you should probably skip them – they will eat you a lot of space.
  • The lack of flexibility– Boulders are what they are – there is very few interventions you can make on them. Therefore, they can be used for the most basic tasks (elevating a section of soil), but not so much for some of the more complex projects (controlling the water flow).
  • Transportation – If the blocks are not locally available, transportation can burn you a lot of money.
  • Height– Boulder walls can’t be built as high as concrete walls.


Due to their uneven size, transportation costs and a wide variety of available types determining the price of the boulders is not that easy. However, it is safe to say that they can be obtained in the price range between $100 and $600 per ton.

7. Gabion

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Gabion is a very old method of building the walls. The very name is derived from the Italian world gabbiawhich stand for cage. And that pretty much describes the gabion walls – they are simple cages made out of wire or steel rods and usually filled with rock or rubble. Although they had the widest application in the times of war (during the Civil War, gabion walls were built to protect the soldiers), their ability to play along with virtually any kind of recycled material (e.g. crushed concrete) earned them a very loyal following amongst the modern eco-aware audience.

See our gabion wall and fence article and gallery here.


  • Heavy basis – Gabion walls will stay firmly in the position even in the case of the worst downpours you can imagine.
  • Flexibility – The baskets and the very materials within them are very flexible and extremely easy to fit in any kind of backyard setup.
  • Upgradability – Gabion walls are modular. Thar mean that each of their sections can be easily replaced or upgraded. Also, the gaps between rock or concrete pieces can be filled with vegetation and silt which should further reinforce the wall.
  • Ease of use– Gabion walls can be built even with the slightest knowledge of masonry or architecture. The build times are very short and the transportation is extremely easy to handle.


  • Visual appeal – Although they can play along with a wide variety of coastal and riverside homes, gabion walls are not that visually pleasing.
  • Prone to rust – If you don’t put enough care into maintenance, wire baskets can easily rust away, and render the whole setup worthless.
  • Vulnerable to water – Exposure to water can damage the basket and cause the corrosion of internal elements (depending on the elements).


A regular gabion wall usually costs $35 per cubic yard (and that would be a three-feet square cage).

8. Timber

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Although they, at least on the first glance, look the same, wood and timber are not considered to be the same building material. Well, at least not quite. The word timberis used to describe any stage of wood after the tree has been cut. The so-called “finished” timber is the wood that’s been processed and cut in various sizes, but still column in nature. As we can see, that makes timber a very different building material from the planks we mentioned above. What these differences amount to?


  • Affordability– Cheaper timber pieces are much more affordable than some other materials used for building block walls.
  • Durable– Thick timber pieces are much heavier and more durable than wooden planks.
  • Good-looking – Any kind of wood ought to bring a lot of old-school charm into your backyard and make a very strong impression on the observer.
  • Easy to install – Timber retaining walls have a lot of structural integrity, even if you simply stack the pillars on top of each other and a nail them together.


  • Wood rots – Although timber walls are said to last at least 15-20 years, many of them are not that lucky.
  • Lack of flexibility – Timber pillars are very large and bulky. Making any kind of advanced design with such building blocks is not that easy. Of course, you can always cut timber into smaller pieces or combine the materials.
  • Susceptible to termites – Again, much like any other piece of wood, timber is vulnerable to these pests as well.


The cost of installation of timber retaining walls varies from $16 to $19 per square foot.

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9. Natural stone

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In a sense, natural stone walls are very similar to boulder walls. The only obvious alteration is that natural stone pieces are much smaller. But, that makes all the difference in the world. Natural stone, therefore, retains all the good qualities of other types of stone (tradition, strength, durability), while allowing you much more design options than, for instance, boulder pieces.


  • Look – Stone simply looks beautiful, and fits perfectly into any kind of traditional rustic setting. Because you are working with a lot of smaller building blocks you will have more freedom to experiment with different colors and textures.
  • Flexibility– Natural stone can fit almost any situation that comes to your mind. Also, you don’t need any special connection or mortar to keep the construction together.
  • Tradition – Natural stone is one of the oldest and the most reliable materials used for grade transitions.
  • Durability – Much like any other stone construction, if made well, a natural stone can last you for ages.


  • Price – Stone was always considered to be one of the more pristine, but also the most expensive building materials.
  • Drainage– When it comes to natural stone, drainage can become a serious problem after just a couple of years.
  • HeavinessSetting up a stone wallis a very labor-intensive process.
  • Building blocks diversity– Fitting too many different pieces together may prove to be a joy for some, but a chore for others.


Depending on the type of the stone you’ve chosen, a natural stone retaining wall will cost you $8 to $12 per square foot.

10. Limestone

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Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed of skeletal fragments left over by the marine organisms (mostly corals and mollusks). Its primary materials are calcite and aragonite. Although that may probably make you think limestone is more fragile than traditional rock, you have to remember that some of the most long-lasting structures in the world like Taj Mahal and Great Pyramids of Giza were made out of this material. That doesn’t mean that limestone doesn’t have its unique set of advantages and disadvantages.


  • Looks – Limestone boulders are usually yellow or gray and land a very timeless and classy feel to the space they occupy. If you are in favor of the look of the desert-bound structures of the times long gone, this is the material for you.
  • Durability – Limestone is fireproof, wheatear-resistant, bug-resistant, and impact-resistant. As the time goes by it doesn’t lose any of its visual appeal.
  • Maintenance– Limestone retaining walls are very easy to clean. All they require is a gentle brush.
  • A variety of different types – Limestone offers a lot of different varieties to choose from. Sandblasted, split-faced, polished, rubbed, gray, silver and variegated are only some of the offers on the table.


  • Susceptible to chemicals – While limestone can withstand pretty much anything Mother Nature can throw at it, it doesn’t bode so well with chemical solutions. The most common cause of weathering is rainwater high in carbon dioxide.
  • Susceptible to staining – Due to its highly porous nature, limestone is very susceptible to watermarking and staining caused by other liquids.


As we already mentioned, there are a lot of different types of the limestone boulders around the market, so you can expect their price to vary a lot. But, as an example, the price of weathered limestone can go up to $515 per ton.

11. Segmental Retaining Walls

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A segmental retaining wall is one that is constructed by identical pieces of pre-cast concrete that interlock and anchor into backfilled soil. These types of alternatives to retaining walls are most commonly used with geotextiles when the grade of a slope is greater than 45 degrees and a reinforced soil slope is not recommended. The installation of a segmental retaining wall is currently $5350.00.


  • Segmental retaining walls provide the retention needed to keep slopes from caving, slumping or sliding.
  • You can build retaining walls that are straight, curved, a combination of both as well as offering you the opportunity to add steps and corners.
  • There is no need to install concrete footing as there is with wooden timber and natural rock walls.
  • Segmental walls can be used to create additional patio space, widen patios and walkways.
  • They come in a wide variety of colors, textures and sizes.
  • Since the pieces interlock, rapid construction of your wall is possible.
  • Higher and steeper walls are able to be constructed.
  • The concrete used to create segmental walls is extremely durable and very low maintenance.


  • The area where your segmental retaining wall is to be built must first be drained of excess rain water and ground water.
  • Weepholes and drainage lines must be taken into account when building this type of wall.
  • This type of wall requires more in-depth planning than the average person can handle because of design and drainage demands.
  • To ensure that the geogrids are being properly constructed, and engineer should be consulted to ensure the safety and viability of the wall.
  • If you ever decide to rearrange or remove your wall, it will be very difficult to do so.

Author Bio:

(Video) How To Build a Retaining Wall

19 Types of Retaining Wall Materials and Designs for Your Yard (21)

Emily Taylor has a huge passion for gardening with the urge to know and control every little thing that happens inside her house. When she isn’t glued to her backyard or caring for the house, she spends time writing her blog Lovebackyard.comhoping to share her tips and stories to people who want to transform their house into a real paradise. You can reach her at emily@lovebackyard.com or on Twitter at @Emily_Taylor9.


What materials are used for a retaining wall? ›

Retaining walls can be made from wood, bricks, natural stones or concrete blocks. For DIYers, it's best to use concrete retaining wall blocks, which can be interlocking and are heavy enough to stay in place without cement or other adhesive. Interlocking blocks fit together and add extra security to the wall.

What type of retaining wall lasts the longest? ›

Concrete and Masonry Retaining Walls

Poured concrete is the strongest and most durable choice for retaining walls. It may also be carved and formed to look like mortared stone depending on your taste.

What are the different types of retaining used? ›

There are several types of retaining structures, including gravity, sheet pile, cantilever, and anchored earth/ mechanically stabilized earth (reinforced earth) walls and slopes. Gravity retaining walls use their weight to resist earth pressures.

What is the best block to use for a retaining wall? ›

The Allan Block system is widely accepted as a reliable retaining wall block product by contractors and engineers.

What is the best material to backfill a retaining wall? ›

The best material for the backfilling of a retaining wall is gravel, and it should be well graded. The main reason for using gravel is because it does not retain water (small void ratio); hence lateral loads experienced will be minimal. You should also have weep holes for draining excess water that may be retained.

What is the most cost effective material for a retaining wall? ›

The cheapest type of retaining wall is poured concrete. Prices start at $4.30 per square foot for poured concrete, $5.65 for interlocking concrete block, $6.15 for pressure-treated pine, and about $11 for stone. Installation or supplies, such as drainage stone or filter fabric, are not included.

Which type of wall is strongest? ›

The Different Types Of Masonry Walls

The strongest part of any building or any structure for that matter would be the masonry walls. As they provide strength and durability to any structure, and at the same time they help in controlling the temperature indoors and out.

How long do retaining walls last? ›

How Long Should A Retaining Wall Last? Stone retaining walls should last somewhere between 40 and 100 years or more. Wood retaining walls last around 40 years. Stone and concrete retaining walls last between 50 and 100 years.

How many types of retaining wall are there? ›

The following are the various types of retaining walls: 1. Gravity Walls 2. Semi-Gravity Retaining Walls 3. Cantilever Retaining Walls 4.

How do I keep my retaining wall from falling? ›

The wall can be strengthened by transferring some of the shear force to the base where the wall meets the ground. This can be done by either extending the footing of the base or placing concrete to thicken the base. Installing anchors or tiebacks is another option for extra strength.

Do I need drainage behind retaining wall? ›

Retaining wall drainage is critical. It ensures water does not collect behind the wall, causing it to fail. A quality drainage system collects and redirects rainwater away from the wall. It decreases pressure on the soil around the foundation and within the wall itself, reducing erosion and settlement.

How deep should a base be for a retaining wall? ›

Dig a trench for the bottom row of blocks. They should be buried about 1 inch deep for every 8 inches of wall height. This provides strength and stability to your retaining wall.

Which soil is best for backfilling? ›

Coarse-Grained Soil:

Your first option is coarse-grained soil. This is a mixture of gravel, sandy soil, and a negligible amount of fine materials. This is a high-quality backfill since it provides fine support for the foundation and is pretty easy to compact.

How thick does a retaining wall need to be? ›

Retaining walls can be tricky to build as they need to be strong enough to resist horizontal soil pressure where there are differing ground levels. One of the things you must get right is the thickness of the wall. It should be at least 215mm thick and bonded or made of two separate brick skins tied together.

How do you prepare soil for a retaining wall? ›

How to Prepare for a Retaining Wall - Site Excavation - YouTube

What is the easiest retaining wall to build? ›

For the average do-it-yourselfer, building a retaining wall is easiest when using masonry blocks that will be stacked no taller than three feet, with no mortar binding the stones or concrete members.

How do you anchor a retaining wall? ›

The Anchorplex™ Retaining Wall System - YouTube

What is a modular retaining wall? ›

A precast modular retaining wall is a variation of a cantilever stem wall. Facing units that have been precast are secured into a precast or cast-in-place footing. Instead of designing the whole length of the facing stem to resist the Earth's lateral pressure, there are one or two counterforts on the backside.

What is a gabion retaining wall? ›


What causes retaining walls to fail? ›

The main cause of retaining wall failure is poor drainage. Without proper drainage, hydrostatic pressure builds up behind the retaining wall. Saturated soil is substantially heavier than dry soil, and the retaining wall may not be designed to handle such a load.

Do all retaining walls need footings? ›

Are concrete footings required? No, the footing is not a structural component of the wall, and acts as a leveling pad for the dry stacked retaining wall blocks. This is one of the benefits of dry stacked gravity retaining wall blocks making them faster and more cost effective to use.

How tall should retaining wall be? ›

The ideal height for a retaining wall is around five feet in the most optimal conditions. The best type of conditions for building a retaining wall is sandy soil that drains easily. Soil that is high in clay puts a lot of pressure on the new wall and it gets even heavier when it's wet.

How do I stop weeds from growing in my retaining wall? ›

Weeds. Manage unwanted weed growth through cracks and crevices in your retaining wall by spraying every year as you would the grass or just pull them out by hand as you see them. Preventing weed growth goes a long way towards keeping your yard neat, trimmed, and presentable.

How do I keep weeds out of my rock retaining wall? ›

The most effective way to stop weeds from growing in rocks is to lay a layer of water-permeable landscape fabric beneath the rocks and create 3-to-4-inch steel or wood edging borders around the rock beds. In addition, use hand weeding, herbicides, and weed flamers to kill existing weeds effectively.

What is the main used of retaining walls? ›

Prevent Erosion

As previously stated, one of the main purposes of a retaining wall is to hold back soil. If the soil slopes downward, it could easily create erosion in the area. Retaining walls can also be used to hold back water.

What is an embedded retaining wall? ›

Embedded retaining walls are walls that penetrate into the ground and rely to a significant extent or even completely on the passive resistance of the ground for their support.

What type of concrete is used for retaining walls? ›

Gravity concrete retaining walls are the most commonly used type and typically precast. This type of wall is usually no more than 4 feet (1.2 m) high and frequently utilized along roadways.

What is the name of a retaining wall? ›

Cantilever retaining wall is the most common type used as retaining walls. Cantilever retaining wall is either constructed on site or prefabricated offsite i.e. precast. The portion of the base slab beneath backfill material is termed as heel, and the other part is called toe.

Is code for retaining wall design? ›

[1] Indian standard code used for designing retaining wall – IS 456:2000 for concrete design. [2] IS 1893 Part-III used for design of bridges and retaining wall.

What is a sleeper retaining wall? ›

sleeper wall is a short wall used to support floor joists, beam and block or hollowcore slabs at ground floor. It is constructed in this fashion when a suspended floor(Also called suspended slab) is required due to bearing conditions or ground water presence.

Which wall is more stable? ›

Walls are more stable and structurally secure if they slope back or “lay back” into the retained slope. This amount of variance from true vertical is called “cant” or “batter”.

What is a cantilever retaining wall? ›

In cantilever retaining walls, the concrete base or footing holds the vertical masonry wall in position and resists overturning and sliding caused by lateral soil loading. The reinforcement is placed vertically in the cores of the masonry units to resist the tensile stresses developed by the lateral earth pressure.

Does retaining wall need gravel? ›

Second, a retaining wall must have properly compacted backfill. Backfill refers to the dirt behind the wall. In order to provide proper drainage, at least 12 inches of granular backfill (gravel or a similar aggregate) should be installed directly behind the wall.

What is a helical tieback? ›

Helical tiebacks are horizontal rods used to support to strengthen and straighten bowed basement or retaining walls. Helical tieback anchors' size and load requirements are engineered specifically. With high load capacities, these anchors make an excellent choice for critical soil retention applications.

Do I need to put landscape fabric behind retaining wall? ›

You should use landscape fabric behind a retaining wall because the fabric supports the bricks, wood, or other materials that make the wall. Wet soil can push against a retaining wall, weakening it. By placing a strip of landscape fabric under the soil, the wall won't have as much pressure on it.

Do all retaining walls need weep holes? ›

Install (or Add) Weep Holes

They protect the structural integrity by allowing underground water to seep through, preventing pressure build-up. Every retaining wall should have them.

What kind of rock goes behind a retaining wall? ›

The base material, wall rock, and drainage stone all require a quarried backfill. Although you could use different materials for each, I recommend sticking with just one material for all three zones. This should be a clean crushed rock, like a #57 or #78 stone, 3/4″ crushed rock, or clean crushed limestone.

What do you use for drainage behind a retaining wall? ›

For proper drainage, the first 12 inches of space behind a retaining wall should be filled with crushed stone or gravel. This is so that when water gets into the space, it does not become bogged down in soil but instead can flow down the wall to the drains or weep holes.

What is the best gravel for retaining wall? ›

Our experts prefer crushed stone for the base rather than naturally occurring gravel dug from a pit. Crushed stone is a little more expensive. However, it provides better drainage, and because of the sharper angles on the stone, it requires less compacting, and once it's compacted, it stays that way.

How wide should a retaining wall base be? ›

Base width = 1/2 to 1/3 of the height of the wall. Base thickness = 1/8 of the height of the wall but not less than 12 inches. Stem thickness = 6 inches + ¼ inch for each foot of wall height. Stem located on base so that 1/3 of total base width projects forward from the face of the stem.

What makes a good retaining wall? ›

A strong retaining wall design features well-compacted base material, compacted material in front of the wall to prevent kick-out, and stepped-back materials.

What is the easiest retaining wall to build? ›

For the average do-it-yourselfer, building a retaining wall is easiest when using masonry blocks that will be stacked no taller than three feet, with no mortar binding the stones or concrete members.

Do retaining walls need a foundation? ›

Retaining wall foundation depth should be 300mm if the soil is firm and well-drained, or 450mm if less firm and unstable. Dig out foundation [base on which wall stands] which must be twice the width of the wall. WONKEE DONKEE says to use a 215mm Hollow Concrete Block with a 450mm width foundation.

How many types of retaining walls are there? ›

Semi-Gravity Retaining Walls 3. Cantilever Retaining Walls 4. Counterfort Retaining Walls 5. Buttressed Retaining Walls 6.

What is retaining wall and its types? ›

A retaining wall is a structure designed and constructed to resist the lateral pressure of soil, when there is a desired change in ground elevation that exceeds the angle of repose of the soil. Retaining walls are used for supporting soil laterally so that it can be retained at different levels on the two sides.

How deep should a retaining wall be? ›

The general rule of thumb is to bury about one-eighth of the height of the wall. For example, if your wall will be three feet (36 inches) tall, the first course of blocks should start five inches below soil level. The gravel base should start three inches below this.

How do I keep my retaining wall from falling? ›

The wall can be strengthened by transferring some of the shear force to the base where the wall meets the ground. This can be done by either extending the footing of the base or placing concrete to thicken the base. Installing anchors or tiebacks is another option for extra strength.

How thick should my retaining wall be? ›

One of the things you must get right is the thickness of the wall. It should be at least 215mm thick and bonded or made of two separate brick skins tied together. This should be enough in most cases with minimal water pressure or where the ground level difference is less than a metre.

What is the cheapest form of retaining wall? ›

Wood and masonry retaining wall block are the two cheapest materials to use for building retaining walls. With wood, 100 square feet of rail ties or six-by-six pressure-treated wood can cost as little as $1,000 to $1,200 on a do-it-yourself basis, up to $2,200 to $4,600 for a higher wall professionally installed.

Do you need drainage behind a retaining wall? ›

Every retaining wall should include drainage stone behind the wall. Though it is a good idea to install a drainage pipe on all walls, there are certain situations where a perforated drain pipe is absolutely necessary.

Do you need adhesive for retaining wall? ›

While glue is not always necessary when building retaining walls, in most cases, it will help keep your wall standing for longer. There is a slew of blocks that can be used in building retaining walls. Some interlock, eliminating the need for masonry adhesives.

Do I need rebar in a retaining wall? ›

As water accumulates behind the wall, it percolates through the gravel into the drainpipe, which carries it off safely. Retaining walls must be stronger than freestanding walls. Insert rebar in the footing when you pour it; this should be done at every three blocks or at intervals specified by your local codes.

Do you need landscape fabric under retaining wall? ›

Filter fabric is an essential step in the process of building a retaining wall because it lets water through but prevents dirt, bark dust, or other landscaping from migrating into your gravel base. First, measure and cut the length of the space you need to cover.

How thick should a concrete footing for a retaining wall be? ›

7 1/2 inch thickness is sufficient for concrete retaining walls without or with minimal reinforcement. 8 feet or less in height and no more than 4 feet in height between the interior floor level and the finished grade on the outside wall are required.


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