Retaining walls serve several functional purposes, such as holding back a grade or helping to divert watershed. However, they can be beautiful in addition to functional. A retaining wall can be constructed using many different materials, including field stone, outcropping stone, engineered concrete blocks, or wood timbers.
To properly build a retaining wall, you must consider proper drainage and back fill to avoid the wall collapsing during the freeze/thaw cycle of winter. Materials that have significant gaps between stones don’t typically require drain tile behind the wall, such as fieldstone. However, walls constructed with concrete block or timbers must have drain tile to allow the water to escape.
When the grade is steep but a retaining wall isn’t a necessity, naturalized outcroppings can be used to add accents to a sloped area, rather than building a full retaining wall. Outcroppings slow the flow of water down a slope, as well as add visual interest. When strategically placed, they become a natural part of the landscape and appear as though they’ve been there all along.
Consider adding cascading plants above your retaining walls for even more beauty. There are many varieties of cascading shrubs and perennials that can add year-round interest.
Below you will find information on some of our most commonly used retaining wall materials.