7 Materials You Can Use For A Retaining Wall

Retaining walls are good features in the garden. Both high and low, they’re perfect for defining your property and particular areas in your garden. They’re good alternatives to hedges because maintenance wouldn’t be as frequent. They’re also very useful to help level a sloping property, creating a barrier on one end to create a pit that you can fill with material. This in turn makes the area much more usable and easier to plant. Retaining walls can also be used to create planting areas in a small space. If you’re thinking about adding a retaining wall to your garden, below are materials that can be used to make them.

1. Wood


The type of wood to use can be determined by your needs. For shorter retaining walls, thinner pieces of treated wood can be used, but for larger ones, thick pieces of lumber must be used. Timber poles must also be driven in the ground to add stability to the structure.

2. Brick

Bricks are popular to use when building retaining walls in gardens. They look beautiful and fit right easily in almost any style. Brick walls need to have a foundation and be mortared in place to give it stability.

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3. Stone and rock


Stone retaining walls can either be dry (no mortar) or mortared. The free-standing stone wall is made by laying the stones or rocks in layers, relying on the the individual shapes to make its form and weight of the material to keep everything in place. Individual pieces are pieced together like a 3D puzzle without the use of mortar.

A variation is adding mortar on each layer and between each piece of rock or stone to keep them permanently bonded. Dry stone walls are best kept low around 1 to 3 feet while the mortared kind can be built higher, but it does require some form of foundation to keep it stable. You can use those big rocks you find or dig up on your property to make your walls. Fieldstone is another popular material to use.

4. Concrete blocks

Concrete blocks come in all shapes and form. The most commonly used in making retaining walls are rectangular hollow blocks, but now, there are more options available such as interlocking blocks that come in other geometric shapes. Concretes blocks need to be mortared in place and a foundation may also be needed to provide stability.

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5. Old bottles


Thrifty gardeners have long used plastic soda bottles in the garden as pots, but here’s another idea: how about using them to make retaining walls? You can also use old glass bottles, such as empty wine bottles. The bottles are used in place of bricks or concrete blocks and get set in place with either cement or mud. Just make sure all the bottles that you’ll use are the same size.

6. Gabion

Credit: Laurence Elsdon / flickr.com

Credit: Laurence Elsdon / flickr.com

Gabions are basically metal cages that get filled with material such rocks, stone, bricks and smashed concrete. These don’t require a foundation as the weight of the materials used give it enough stability to let it stand on it’s own. Low retaining walls made with gabion can be used to divide areas in your garden. Add concrete or stone slabs to the tops to give it a finished look and provide seating. Gabions have long been been used as a means to prevent soil erosion and is good medium if you’re planning to build a large retaining wall for a steep, sloping property that will be filled with plenty of soil. Consult with a structural engineer if you plan to use it for that type of purpose.

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7. Tires


Old tires are another inexpensive and green way of making retaining walls. Build a wall by stacking them up layer by layer, filling each tire with soil. Alternating the tires make for a more stable structure, and the resulting gaps can be planted with flowering plants or crops.