20 best retaining wall designs and ideas

20 best retaining wall designs and ideas

20 best retaining wall designs and ideas

If you've been considering revamping your backyard or garden, you'll know that there are endless options when it comes to renovating and landscaping. Typically, you may choose to redo your gardens, add in a patio or pergola, or maybe even spruce up your pool area. If you want to take your backyard to the next level, however, you may be considering adding some levels or terraces utilising retaining walls.

Retaining walls are a brilliant way to add depth and extra levels to your garden and can help bring to life the picture you have in your mind. If you're looking for inspiration for the best retaining wall ideas and designs, we can help.

Take a look at our top ways to utilise retaining walls in your backyard to create more useable space and entertaining areas.

20 retainer wall designs and ideas inspiration

Retaining walls are relatively rigid walls that are installed or built for the sole purpose of supporting soil or land laterally to create different levels in any given area that are both stable.

Retaining walls range from small walls that are often used in a landscaped garden setting to much larger walls, such as retaining walls along train tracks or highways.

When built correctly, retaining walls are safe, fantastic options to create levels or terraces that the slope of the land wouldn't necessarily support naturally.

In a garden setting, retaining walls can help turn the uneven ground into useable space, such as terraced gardens, a new entertaining area, or stepped lawns.

Retaining walls are relatively easy to install, however, because a poorly built retaining wall can be both dangerous and costly, it always pays to utilise the services of a professional. A professional will be able to ensure that the walls are built correctly and look good.

1. Flagstone walls using irregularly shaped blocks

If you're looking for a retaining wall that will stand out as a feature in its own right, then this could be the wall for your property. The irregular shaped and sized flagstones will give the wall a rugged and earthy look that you won't achieve with the use of uniform bricks or stone. The grey of the flagstones will help the wall to remain modern and industrial while retaining its rustic elements.

2. Patchwork stone

Patchwork stone walls are a fantastic option for anyone who is looking for a more relaxed style of retaining wall that blends into their property well. The patchwork style usually incorporates several different coloured stones or bricks that are reminiscent of a patchwork quilt. You can choose to make it a standout feature in your garden with contrasting colours or have the colours match your home's existing aesthetic to create some continuity.

3. Concealed by nature

If you're not too fond of the look of retaining walls but you love the useable space that they create, you can try creating an almost invisible wall. Utilise climbing and hanging plants as well as small hedges or shrubs to hide any brickwork and woodwork and soon enough, you won't even see the retaining wall at all. Instead, you'll be greeted with a lush green garden that appears to be made out of natural terraces.

concealed retaining wall best ideas

4. Integrated steps

Integrating steps into your retaining wall is a fantastic way to make your backyard easily accessible in a fun and stylish way. This easy access to your upper levels helps to bring some creativity to your walls and provides the wall with a design-based feel, making it a feature rather than just a necessary part of your landscaping.

retaining wall steps

5. Colourful mosaics

Mosaics are a beautiful and sturdy way to add some style and colour to your backyard. Making use of a variety of colourful stones, you can create a retaining wall that is unique to your home. Whether you opt for bold and bright colours or pastel tones that are a touch more subtle, you can have a lot of fun creating a mosaic retaining wall that will stand as a feature of your garden.

best retaining wall ideas colourful mosaics

6. Reinforced wood

If you're considering a more cost-effective type of retaining wall, then you can't go past a sturdy, reinforced wood wall. Some good quality wood such as timber will create a strong, tidy retaining wall that will also look fantastic. You can choose to leave the wood bare or treat or paint it to suit your yard. Just remember that typically, wooden retaining walls tend to have shorter lifespans than a stone or concrete retaining wall does. However, they are still designed to last a long time and are a great solution if you're interested in timber retaining wall ideas.

7. Create a living wall

If you're a bit of a prolific gardener and you want to make the most of the space you have available, you can choose to have a living retaining wall. This type of wall has spaces specially built where you can plant small plants and shrubs. As the plants grow and thrive, you may eventually not be able to see the concrete wall at all behind your curtain of flowers and greenery. This type of wall is quite complex to build, so you should always get a professional to build it for you.

8. Extra-low block walls

If you're considering having extra-low terraces or levels, then you will want to choose the right material for the job. Extra-low but large blocks will look fantastic in this setting, providing your retaining wall with a modern, industrial style. They're also inexpensive to buy and easy to lay, which makes them great options for small retaining wall ideas on a budget.

low retaining wall

9. Modern concrete

The smooth texture of modern concrete walls shouldn't be overlooked, especially if you're looking for concrete retaining wall ideas. Smooth concrete retaining walls are an easy way to provide a sophisticated look to your garden that will go well with some carefully planted trees, flowers and greenery.

10. Tiered terraces

Tiered terraces are a fantastic way to add some depth to your backyard if you have enough room for them. They don't have to be huge retaining walls, as multiple low retaining walls look great. This can help to create a gentle slope that works well with your natural landscape. Consider laying rows of flower beds on each terrace for a beautiful and wild look that will be the envy of the neighbourhood.

11. Gabion baskets

Gabion baskets are a type of retaining wall that is often seen in larger-scale industrial retaining walls, however, they can also look great on a much smaller scale. Whether you pair wood or stone with the open wire of the baskets, this type of retaining wall looks great in a residential setting, particularly if you need high retaining walls. You can fill the baskets with whatever material you want to and can have a lot of fun personalising it to your property. This type of retaining wall is perfect for anyone who has a large backyard area looking for high retaining wall ideas as they take up a bit of space.

12. Flowerbeds

If you're an avid gardener, you can dig flowerbeds into the terraces that you create with your retaining walls. You'll end up with a wild and beautiful backyard that will have your green thumb itching to spend hours in.

retaining wall flower beds

13. Railway style walls

If you want a retaining wall that blends well with your backyard and is as much a feature as it is structural support, then a vertical railway style wall could be just the option for you. This wall slopes up gently from the ground before reaching its peak and sloping down again to blend with the ground on the other side.

This is a fantastic wall if you want retaining walls that are easy to maintain and look polished, especially if you have a well-maintained lawn.

14. Integrate a water feature

While retaining walls are typically installed to hold back the soil and stabilise the levels in your garden, there's no reason why you can't add in a feature or two.

Some carefully planned water features, such as a small pond or even a gorgeous waterfall, look fantastic when integrated into your retaining wall.

This instantly turns your wall from merely functional to a piece of art.

15. Large boulder wall

Large boulder walls are a fantastic way of giving off the feeling of strength and size.

This is a great style to utilise if you have a large back garden and love the look of stone.

Weathered boulders can help provide some rustic charm to your garden.

16. Contrasting brickwork

Contrasting brickwork is a quick and easy way to create a wall that captures both the eye and your attention.

By utilising natural stone shades, you can create a design that is both fun and easy to maintain, without being too excessive.

17. Curved or winding walls

One aspect of a retaining wall that many people often overlook is the curve or shape of the wall itself.

It's most common to see straight and almost box-like walls, however, a curved or winding wall can add a lot of style and flair to a garden, especially if it fits the natural layout of your land.

A curved design is a great option if you need retaining wall ideas for a sloped backyard that doesn't suit traditionally straight walls.

18. Mix your materials up

Whoever said that you should only pick one material for your wall didn't know what they were missing out on.

A well designed retaining wall can take advantage of multiple materials and still look stylish and modern.

Try combining integrated wooden stairs with stylish concrete blocks or chic stonework walls for an impressive design.

19. Inbuilt seating

Adding seating to your retaining wall is a lot easier than you might expect.

This is an especially smart solution if you're worried about the size of your garden and how much room your retaining wall might be taking up.

It's easy enough to install a bench on top of the wall during construction or even to have an inset seat where you can throw a few comfy pillows to relax on during warm summer evenings.

Integrated seating looks fantastic when paired with beautiful stonework such as the ADBRI Wallstone 3 in Oatmeal.

best raining wall ideas adbri oatmeal

20. Winding stone path

If you have room for it, a winding stone path up your terraces or levels is a fantastic way to make use of your space.

Similar to a staircase, the path will follow the lay of the walls at an easy but steady slope.

Lay your path in the same stones as your walls and you'll have a lovely stone pathway through your property and up your retaining walls.

Retaining wall FAQs

What is the cheapest type of retaining wall?

If you want to install a retaining wall but you're constrained by a budget, you still have a few great options.

Wood and poured concrete are both cheap and sturdy options that produce fantastic strong results.

What is the cheapest way to build a retaining wall?

One of the cheapest ways to build a retaining wall is to DIY it yourself.

However, because retaining walls are often supporting a huge amount of weight behind them, we do not recommend doing it by yourself, especially if you have no experience in building retaining walls.

Save yourself the stress and danger of a poorly built wall and get a professional to build it for you.

This will ensure that it is installed correctly and safely.

What is the easiest retaining wall to build?

Some of the easiest retaining walls to build are timber walls.

Timber is relatively inexpensive and is easy to work with.

You could also consider utilising interlocking concrete blocks, also known as landscaping or retaining blocks, to build your wall.

Landscaping blocks are easy to use and transport and come in a variety of colours, styles and designs, making them suitable for many people.

What can I install instead of a retaining wall?

If you don't want to install a retaining wall in your backyard, you have a few other options.

You could consider the following choices:

  • Reinforced soil slopes
  • Soil bioengineered walls
  • Natural stone walls
  • Wooden timbers


Retaining walls don't have to be boring, difficult or plain.

With so many materials, colours and styles available to pick from, the hard part will be deciding which is the perfect choice for your home.

Retaining walls are a fantastic way to add some character and more useable space to your property that allows you to make the most of your yard.

If you need assistance with your retaining wall ideas or are ready to choose the perfect materials for your upcoming project, get in touch with us today

Amber has the Answer.