Are you trying to make your backyard an oasis? Do you enjoy landscaping projects hoping to upgrade your yard or garden? Or is your property sloping and have different elevations? There are plenty of different reasons to consider installing a retaining wall.

Retaining walls aren’t just for holding back soil anymore. Many homeowners employ retaining walls to bring some architectural interest to their yards. And retaining wall design has come a long way from its utilitarian roots. A retaining wall can make all the difference in your outdoor space.

Natural stone retaining wall with plants and stairs

Read on for our tips to make your retaining wall project a success.

Building a Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is a structural piece of your yard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive.

Material Options

When considering building a retaining wall in your yard, you need to choose the right material for your wall’s purpose. There are a few different options.

  • Manufactured block or stone
  • Pressure treated lumber
  • Segmental blocks
  • Stones
  • Bricks

Necessary Tools

If you’re not like Tim the Tool Man Taylor, you may need to go to your local big box home improvement store to rent the tools necessary to build your retaining wall.

If you are doing a huge revamp of your yard and need to move soil around, you may also need to rent some heavy duty equipment, like an excavator or a skid loader. Unless you are construction savvy, you may opt to hire someone to do this type of preliminary work for you.

There are several more basic tools that you’ll need, including:

  • Safety glasses
  • Chisel
  • Square
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Hand tamper

Important Prep Work

Solid Base

It is extremely important to have a solid base for the wall. If the foundation is off, the wall is likely to be off as well. A crooked or slanted retaining wall will mean trouble in the long run.

Dig out the base, tamp it using your hand tamper, and fill with gravel or whatever filler you’re using. Make sure it is compacted and ready for the next step. It will keep your wall nice and sturdy.


If your yard has a slope, you will need to add drainage so that rainwater doesn’t puddle in one area.

Use gravel and a drainage pipe at the base of your project. Cover the ends of the pipe with a mesh fabric to prevent the pipe from getting clogged.

Ready to Build the Wall

Start with your first layer of whatever material you chose. As you build the wall, you need to consistently check to make sure it’s level. You can use any number of decorative caps or edges to complete the wall.

As you build, stagger joints to make it visually appealing. Also, backfill as you go along and make sure to compact the soil so that there is no settling later.

Other Hardscaping Projects

Pinterest is full of images of beautiful backyards with creative uses of brick, pavers, stone, and other hardscape products. Do some research, find the bricks you need, and start planning your next project!

Whether you are building a retaining wall, adding a patio, or sprucing up a walkway with pavers, we can assist you. Visit our website to see all we have to offer for your hardscaping projects.