11 Retaining Wall Ideas That Work Hard While Looking Good

Get inspired by these great ideas for retaining walls that hold back the soil on hilly yards while adding visual appeal.

By Deirdre Mundorf | Published Oct 19, 2021 1:25 PM

retaining wall ideas

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On sloping or hilly properties, retaining walls serve the important function of holding back the earth and preventing the ground from eroding. A well-placed, well-designed retaining wall can help create a flat expanse in a hilly yard, making it possible to transform an otherwise unusable bit of land into a patio or gorgeous garden. But as this collection of retaining walls demonstrates, the walls themselves can be as beautiful as they are functional. Take some inspiration from the range of materials and styles that follow as you envision a retaining wall for your own property.

Related: Dos and Don’ts of Building Retaining Walls 

1. Block Retaining Wall with Steps

retaining wall ideas

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A stunning stone retaining wall can convert a sloping yard into a terraced outdoor oasis. In this elegant design, a winding path wends through the garden, and stone steps lead to the shady upper level.

2. Double Wall

retaining wall ideas

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This double retaining wall idea harnesses a sloping yard, creating garden beds and maximizing the space available for a lawn. The curving walls add visual appeal, and steps integrated into the design cut a path up from the lawn.

3. Two-Tier Retaining Wall

retaining wall ideas

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Yards with a steep slope may benefit from a two-tier retaining wall. This staggered design prevents erosion and reclaims space for a garden bed or patio at the base of the wall, while the structure itself creates an attractive backdrop for plantings.

4. Gabion Wall

retaining wall ideas

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A gabion wall is created by filling a wire cage with rocks, bricks, or other inorganic material. When filled, a gabion basket like this top-rated option available at Amazon becomes quite heavy, and several can be combined to form a retaining wall to stabilize landscaping and prevent erosion. You can choose from different sizes and customize the layout according to the demands of the space.

5. Pressure-Treated Pine

retaining wall ideas

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Another retaining wall idea involves using pressure-treated pine to create a raised garden bed. The sturdy pine will hold the soil back, keeping the space below it usable for other purposes.

6. Layered Landscaping

retaining wall ideas

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If you’re trying to come up with retaining wall ideas for sloped backyards, consider layering the walls. Multiple layers, or tiers, can help break up the slope, and the flat areas between each wall are great for planting bushes, trees, or flowers.

Related: Repairing a Retaining Wall

7. Wood Blocks

retaining wall ideas

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Wooden sleepers, or railway ties, give a retaining wall an antique look and feel. Like bricks and stones, the ties can be stacked and layered to provide the structural support needed to hold back soil and prevent erosion.

8. Garden Stones

retaining wall ideas

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Need small retaining wall ideas to construct a flower bed? Stacking stone blocks together can provide sufficient support to contain a small slope. Heighten the visual appeal by curving the wall rather than relying solely on straight lines and sharp corners.

9. Aspen Logs

retaining wall ideas

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Upright logs form a one-of-a-kind retaining wall for a raised garden bed. Not only do the sturdy logs hold back the earth, but they also introduce a rustic, sculptural element to the landscaping. Choose logs of varying heights to suit the needs of the space and amp up the drama.

10. Bench and Flowers

retaining wall ideas

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One great stone retaining wall idea is to carve out a space in the wall for a built-in bench. In this particularly romantic example, flowers cascade from a garden bed overlooking a stone bench set into the retaining wall.

11. Patio and Pool

retaining wall ideas

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Looking for more backyard retaining wall ideas? This curvaceous, multitiered design holds back a sloping yard, providing both space and privacy for the pool and patio below. Greenery in the beds created by the retaining wall softens the stone backdrop.