The retaining wall is a necessary design consideration for a sloped yard. The wall holds back the earth, allowing you to turn your yard into two or more relatively flat terraces. Retaining walls must also allow water to drain away from your yard. That said, this article will help you discover how to choose between the wide range of material options for your retaining wall.


Wood is a common material choice for a retaining wall. Timber walls work especially well if your home features a lot of wood in its facade. In such a situation, a wall constructed of similar wood creates cohesion between the house and the landscape. A wooden wall also blends beautifully into a woodland backyard. Timber is typically less durable than stone. Likewise, because of strength issues, wooden retaining walls generally aren’t more than four feet tall.


Concrete affords you two alternatives – concrete blocks and poured concrete. Both offer you a variety of design options. The blocks come in either slump or ground faced for style and are popular when creating curves and arcs. Poured concrete gives a smooth finish. While poured concrete can also be used for curves, such retaining walls are typically straight. Poured concrete is the stronger of the two options.

Loose Masonry

Loose stone walls can be made out of regular blocks or less-regular cuts. Also called “dry walling,” this wall material depends heavily on the construction method. The stones must be laid to ensure the core remains dry. Otherwise, water accumulates in the core and destroys the wall’s integrity. Though loose stone masonry should not be used for walls taller than three feet according to Better Homes and Gardens, such walls pose a natural solution to a sloping yard.


Gabion is a specialized system which involves building a series of cages and filling them with rocks. This construction method is popular as a green option for building a retaining wall because you can utilize any stone or rubble at hand, including crushed recycled concrete. Gabion walls actually move with the earth, making them a valuable option in waterfront areas.

Mortared Stone

Mortared stone is one of the sturdiest materials for retaining walls. These walls can be built to any height necessary. Concerning the stones themselves, they should match your home and general landscaping design. Uncut rubble, ashlar and semi-dressed stone are all options for this construction. It’s essential such walls be expertly designed to create the proper foundation. Mortared stone gives your wall a pleasing custom appearance.


Brick is similar to mortared stone in that it is extremely strong and durable. Likewise, brick retaining walls require expert design for drainage. They feature the typical brick colors and designs. Brick retaining walls are especially complementary for traditional home and landscape design.

The material you choose for your retaining wall depends largely on the height needed. However, other considerations include the façade of your home and the design of your landscape. For the best results, you should talk to local contractors, like Done Right Landscapes, about your retaining wall needs.