Landscaping - Retaining Walls

Functionality and Character

Retaining walls are a great way to add character to your yard and, if done right, they can provide structural stability, proper drainage, and functionality. If you’re looking for retaining wall ideas in your landscape design contact an excavator with knowledge and experience with retaining walls. In doing so, will help guarantee the wall will be installed correctly.

As mentioned before, not only do retaining walls provide a functional area out of a sloped terrain, they do serve other functions such as providing a great visual element to your landscaping as well.
To serve all these purposes, the wall must be planned out and executed correctly. Because no two structures are the same and the area where the wall is installed will not be the same as any other, it is important to select a knowledgeable excavator.

Be Creative

One might think that retaining walls only provide one function. After all, a retaining wall prevents soil erosion and reduce the risk of flooding by providing proper drainage. As mentioned before, retaining walls can create visually attractive levels, or “tiers” from a hillside. With a little creativity, retaining walls can also provide pathways and steps, raised garden beds and other areas for vegetation, and even seating for gathering areas.

Before installing a retaining wall consider hiring an excavator with experience and knowledge.  Retaining walls, if not done correctly, could fail in a matter of months.  A good retaining wall when installed correctly will last many years and could even outlast the home itself.

Tips For Installing Your Own Wall

If you are a DIY’er who wants to install their own retaining wall, here are some very basic steps to follow.

You can also check out some pictures and videos below that I have done to give you a visual idea.

What you want to do is…

1. Dig out a small trench where the retaining wall will sit.

2. Fill the trench with 1’ washed rock (for drainage)

3. Use a hand compactor to compact the gravel.

4. Lay each block one at a time and carefully make sure each block is level side to side but also provide a slight slope front to back to take into account the weight of the dirt that will eventually push the wall behind it.

Remember, the worst thing for retaining wall block or cinder block walls is water.  Especially hard water, which, will eventually and quite quickly erode away the bottom and most important layer of the entire wall and believe me, you don’t want that. This leads me to the next step.

5. Add a drainage pipe behind the first layer of block after it is done and cover it with rock.  This will assure the bottom layer stays dry.

6. Make sure to use a string line for each layer to assure the wall is straight.

7. As you continue to add layers, keep checking the blocks to make sure they are level.  Even one uneven block can throw the entire wall out of alignment.

8. As you add layers, be sure to add 12” of gravel behind the wall.  Overtime, the dirt will compress against the wall adding tension.  Having gravel behind the wall will serve to relieve some of that pressure and also help reduce water erosion from behind the wall.


To summarize, a retaining wall, if done right and with some creativeness, can add both functionality and be visually appealing to your landscape, ultimately adding value to your home or building. In addition, when considering what materials to use for your retaining wall consider these options… concrete blocks, bricks, wall stones, boulders, railroad ties, or even treated timbers.

If you’re considering a retaining wall, feel free to give us a call at 435-708-1442

Retaining Wall Photos

Retaining Walls Videos