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backyard makeover

A retaining wall is a structure that retains any material, usually earth, and prevents it from sliding or eroding away. Its main purpose is to resist the pressure of the material it is holding back. Due to its broad use, we have prepared some facts that you should know about retaining walls.

Retaining wall types

Here are some of the often used types of retaining walls.

Gravity walls are multifunctional – for example on hillside properties and they are usually made of concrete and stone. They depend on its mass to resist material pressure from behind. However, their main disadvantage is that they are easily damaged in earthquakes.

Brick retaining walls has multiple purposes – such as on hillside properties, however, they are not as strong as concrete gravity walls, and water pressure behind them can cause their failure.

Sheet pile retaining walls come in different materials such as steel, vinyl or wood planks. The process of their making is done by driving a part of them into the ground up to the required depth.

You can use anchored retaining walls when you expect high loads since they have additional strength using cables to stay anchored in the soil behind.

Retaining wall use


A retaining wall is a multipurpose construction. One of their benefits is to protect shorelines and create space for storm drains. You can see these walls as support to roads and bridges, as well as in residential properties to add definition to the landscape by making distinct flat areas in your backyard, offering an appealing look. Thus, we can see that their purpose is both functional and decorative. They are used as the support for keeping soil in place and preventing erosion. Furthermore, they’re very effective at preventing flooding.

Retaining walls material

Some of the most common materials used for retaining walls are stone, brick, timber and concrete. If your budget is not tight, we would recommend you a stone, whose strength and rustic look are worth some extra money. Brick and timber, on the other hand, are cost-effective choices. However, you should be careful in the case of brick walls, since they require a strong structural footing. Also, you should have in mind that, although timber is cheaper, it has a reduced lifespan.

What are the costs involved?

As we have already mentioned, the cost heavily depends on the type of the material. However, that’s not all. Dimensions and the labor required are also some of the important elements. You can keep costs down if you decide to build the wall on your own. However, if you’re not up for a challenge, don’t shy from contacting the experts. The construction process is quite not for everyone, particularly in case of higher walls. Aside from this, soil conditions can affect the cost as well, so it is hard to predict a quota before the work begins.

Water can weaken the wall


The accumulated water is a huge danger to retaining walls. Especially since it increases the pressure on the wall and the risk of failure becomes significantly higher. Thus you have to take the importance of proper retaining wall drainage seriously. This may include drainage sheets that protect the foundation. Another possibility is to drill the weep holes which will allow the water to escape, instead of staying accumulated behind the wall. Also, a suitable method is installing a drainage pipe behind the wall, either near the footing or higher. It’s important to use granular and not cohesive clay soil as backfill because that way, water can reach the holes or pipes, instead of just accumulating.

Retaining wall decoration ideas

There are many interesting ways in which retaining walls in residential areas can be decorated in order to contribute to the visual appeal of the landscape. For example, there is nothing more beautiful than introducing a touch of nature to it. You can plant climbers like beautiful climbing roses or a Virginia creeper whose crimson autumn leaves will make your retaining wall look magical. Another possibility is installing the night lights. Owing to them the retaining wall will look more sophisticated, at the same time being both functional and decorative. Keep in mind that you need to think about the security of your home as well. And if you love colorful decorations, you may even consider installing color-changing lights to get the impression of being in a fairy tale.

As you can see, retaining walls can completely transform your backyard. Since serious construction work is in question here, you can consider a lot of things, starting from the types of the walls, the materials, the cost, etc. However, you can also be creative and decorate it according to your own desire.