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Retaining Wall Design
Make It Fabulous

Plan your retaining wall design. It's much more than a functional piece of your garden. Make it beautiful!

Retaining walls can be a valuable addition to your yard. They can greatly expand your living space, create intimate outdoor rooms, dramatic backdrops for water falls or vines, or give you a place to show off your prized plants.


A little bit of planning (can I say 'design'?) and your retaining wall design will be both functional and fabulous. Don't settle for the everyday -- get the most out of your retaining wall design.


A retaining wall is not going to be movable. Take time to consider where you're going to build it.

Walk around the area. Think about how it will look from different angles like your driveway or back yard.


How high does it have to be? Generally, a wall higher than four feet can look intimidating if it is too close to a house or patio. If your wall is going to be higher than four feet, consider terracing.

If children will be playing near the top of the wall, you might want to keep the height change to two feet or less. Another alternative is to install a planting area or fence at the top of the wall.

Many homeowners are having egress windows installed now. Your retaining wall design could have terracing around the window. It creates a natural stair for this home addition.

Safety Note

If it looks very steep -- DON'T try mowing. With a little brainstorming, you can find another way to deal with a steep slope.


What is the function of the area around the slope? Will a change in level block traffic flow? Will it need stairs? If it means that you wouldn't have to take a long walk around, stairs are worth it.


It is essential to have your wall installed correctly. It may need to be designed by an engineer and local setbacks may apply. Do your research right away. Correct installation is the difference between a beautiful project and having all your work washed down to the neighbor's yard.

Also, if it's installed incorrectly, you may have to pay to have it torn down and redone. If you hire someone, it is essential to know what quality you'll be getting. This is not the time to choose a contractor by price. Check their retaining wall references. Visit sites.



Get Creative, LLC had to tear down and rebuild this multi-level wall.

Everything that the previous contractor did had to be redone. It was falling down before he could finish.



Sprinkler systems, electrical systems, and other utilities may need to run under the retaining wall.

When you're sketching your retaining wall design, write your utility notes there. Also, mention this issue to your landscaper.

If the base or top of your retaining wall design will have grass against it, it may become a maintenance issue.

A solution to this is creating a planting area at the top or base.

For one client, I had a small planting area installed at the base. The owner had enough room to run his lawn mower along the edging at the bottom -- which saved him a lot of work because his wall was quite long.

Your retaining wall design can be fun, too. Rustic, formal, country to southwest -- what style are you looking for?

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As a general rule, boulders will be least expensive, then concrete block, and finally cut stone is the largest investment.

Take time for design!

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