Retaining walls are one of the most elegant and multi-functional landscaping features you can add to your garden. Originally designed for garden terracing, retaining walls are useful both for sloped regions and for creating a height dynamic on level ground. There are many potential benefits for incorporating retaining walls in both residential and commercial landscaping.

If you are envisioning your Bloomington, IN, garden beautifully terraced with retaining walls, Anthony’s Lawn Care, Landscaping, and Tree Service is ready to bring your vision to life.


What is a Retaining Wall?

A retaining wall is a short brick or stone wall designed to hold in dirt on one side while allowing a lower grade of earth on the other. Retaining walls are often used to terrace sloped ground to create layers of flat ground and gardening space while controlling erosion. However, they can also be used to create raised areas of earth if your landscape is naturally more flat and level.

Retaining walls can be used to border garden beds or terrace grass-covered lawns. They can be scalloped and topped with railings or topped with flat stones for comfortable outdoor seating. Most retaining walls are made of concrete, stone, or wood depending on the aesthetic of each individual garden landscaping design.

A backward patio with a retaining wall

Types of Retaining Walls for Landscaping

There are several types of retaining wall to choose from. Their differences lie in how they are designed to counter the lateral force of the earth they hold back.

1. Gravity Walls

Gravity walls rely on their own mass to resist the lateral force of the retained earth. They are the heaviest form of retaining wall and must be carefully designed to prevent a toppling force. most gravity walls are, therefore, built in the shape of a resisting wedge whether they are made of concrete, stone, or masonry.

2. Cantilevered Walls

Cantilever retaining walls consist of a flat base foot of concrete that anchors the upright wall. The long section of the foot (heel) lies below the retained earth, so that the earth itself counters it’s own lateral force. The forward section of the foot (toe) lies below the lower-level earth in front of the retaining wall to provide counter-force. Cantilevered walls are universally made of reinforced concrete, either cast on site or precast.

3. Sheet Piling Walls

Sheet piling walls are made by driving steel sheets into the earth. These are quick and efficient with minimal disturbance to nearby landscaping but have the least lateral force resistance.

4. Anchored Walls

Anchored retaining walls are reinforced by wires driven into the earth that is being retained, providing opposite pull on the wall itself. These are often used for loose soil over rocks. The anchors are also sometimes called tiebacks.


Benefits of Retaining Walls in Landscaping

Retaining walls can upgrade your landscaping appearance and functionality in many different ways. You’ve probably seen more than a few retaining wall designs without realizing the many benefits that they offer. Retaining walls help with erosion, water drainage, appearance, and usability of your landscaping.

Erosion Control

Retaining walls prevent soil erosion, allowing for larger level spaces with controlled changes in elevation rather than the sloping tumble of earth that occurs as part of natural erosion. Erosion control in residential landscapes creates more enjoyable lawn space and garden beds, optimizing your yard.

Improved Drainage

Careful design of retaining walls allows you to manage water runoff as rainwater is directed in intentional paths through your landscaped areas. This can protect your lawn from flooding and muddy spots while also optimizing natural irrigation through your gardened areas.

Aesthetic Appeal

Retaining walls are also a lovely way to upgrade your landscaping. They provide beautiful visual appeal through masonry and earth shaping, allowing you to create dynamic vertical levels to your garden while incorporating stone and concrete into your landscaping design. Aesthetically pleasing retaining walls often create natural garden planters, shady places to sit, and beautifully terraced gardens in areas that might otherwise be an uneven slope.

Increased Usable Space

Lastly, retaining walls create more usable space in any garden, especially if your land has a naturally steeper grade. From gentle hills to steep slopes, retaining walls give you terraced level ground instead of rolling erosion or uneven rocky ground. You can create smooth walking paths, green lawns that are safe for play, and level garden beds for planting simply by installing retaining walls in the right places in your landscaping design.

Practical applications for retaining walls include the creation of flat space for gardens, patios, and welcoming outdoor living spaces.

Image of a long backyard utilizing a retaining wall to make two usable areas of flat lawn

Considerations for Building a Retaining Wall for Landscaping

What should you consider when building retaining walls as part of your landscaping design? The nature of your land, the aesthetic you want to achieve, and how water moves through your space all play important roles.

Soil Type and Conditions

Consider the type of soil in your landscaped area. Different soil compositions have different behaviors. Some soil is more prone to erosion, some is heavier and requires more support. These elements will impact your wall design and the potential stability of your garden areas.

Height and Design

How tall should your retaining walls be? This depends on the natural grade (slope) of your land and whether you want to make short or tall terraced sections. Short retaining walls can double as seating and comfortable planters for personal gardening. Tall retaining walls allow you to change the slope of your landscaping more dramatically.

Consider regulations and guidelines for wall heights if you live in a resudential area. You will also want to review how different retaining wall heights will influence design features and possible materials.

Drainage Solutions

How does water flow through your land? Professional landscapers know how to grade and test water flow to ensure a beautiful and controlled drainage solution. Proper drainage of landscaped areas provides irrigation without creating muddy spots or flooding, and retaining walls play an important part. Your landscapers will help you incorporate channels for water runoff and water drainage fields into your landscaping design.

Professional Installation

Retaining wall construction should always be professional due to the necessity of support. A retaining wall must be built to properly counteract the lateral forces of the land it supports. Expert installation and long-lasting retaining walls are the benefits of hiring a professional landscape architectural team for the job.

Professional retaining wall construction in garden projects involves assessing the land, measuring the grade, selecting the right wall type to oppose the lateral forces, and properly anchoring the retaining wall for long-lasting support.


Explore Retaining Walls for Your Garden

Whether you are landscaping residential or commercial land, retaining walls offer a beautiful and functional option for slope control. You can add dynamic height to flat ground or artfully take control of the slope of your land with the right retaining wall. You can create space for beautiful patios and outdoor living, craft well-irrigated garden beds, and create convenient seating all with varying styles of retaining wall design.

To explore the potential of retaining walls for your property, contact Anthony’s Lawn Care, Landscaping and Tree Service. We will help you assess your property’s potential, then design and install beautiful retaining walls to transform your landscape into an artfully crafted space.