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9 beautiful (and practical) retaining wall ideas

Here's some inspiration to make this practical backyard feature a stunning addition

modern landscaped backyard
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Retaining walls can sometimes be an eyesore in a backyard design. While they are practical and occasionally necessary landscape additions, you may wonder how you can spruce up a retaining wall to make it feel more intentional in a design.

Today, we’re covering some gorgeous retaining wall ideas to help you make the most of this functional backyard addition and turn it into a visual masterpiece.

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Why have a retaining wall?

Backyard pergola with outdoor furniture
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Retaining walls are great for protecting your soil, preventing erosion and flooding, and leveling steep inclines in your yard. However, retaining walls don’t have to focus solely on functionality. Aesthetically pleasing retaining walls can uplift the look of your lawn. They can also offer separation for well-defined spaces throughout your yard or add visual interest to the landscape.

Retaining wall ideas

Sloped front yard with retaining wall garden
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If you want to add a retaining wall to your property, try out these stunning ideas.

Classic concrete retaining wall

For a crisp, manicured look to your landscape, you might consider choosing the classic concrete retaining wall. Concrete blocks or even larger solid structures can look sophisticated in many designs. This low-profile backyard addition will add curb appeal without becoming an over-the-top feature. Additionally, this can be a cost-effective solution for homeowners craving a simple, minimal look.

Stone retaining wall with flower beds

For homeowners aiming for a more natural appearance, stone retaining walls with flower beds can offer a whimsical garden aesthetic. This is also a practical solution for gardening on steep slopes or hillsides. Additionally, stone retaining walls are perfect for adding a bit of natural flair, and each installation is unique.

Hidden garden wall with door entryway

If you’re willing to splurge, a garden wall with a door entryway can be a great way to create a secret or hidden garden. You’ll often see these retaining walls used to create private courtyards. However, you can use this to add a more secluded patio space or greenhouse nook. Whatever you choose to do with it, the hidden garden wall is a great spin on the classic half-wall styles.

Affordable wooden retaining wall

A more affordable solution for creating a retaining wall on your property would be to add a wooden structure. Wood logs and planks may not be the sturdiest, but they can offer your yard a natural and elegant look. Use the retaining wall to add in some garden beds for a more curated look. Or, use the wood planks as a backdrop for a cozy patio space.

Retaining wall seating

If you want to take advantage of the functionality of your retaining wall, be sure to add some seating. Retaining wall seating can make your structure a dual-purpose space. Not only will you be able to protect your landscape or level an area of your yard, but you can use the wall for seating to create a more stylized space for family cookouts or evenings around the fire pit.

How to pull off an aesthetic retaining wall

Backyard patio with pavers, plants, and furniture
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While the ideas above offer insight into what sorts of retaining walls you can include on your property, there are a few other things you’ll want to take into consideration as you design your space.

Use the right materials

Before you make any purchases, ensure that the materials you choose blend with your existing design. If you live in a contemporary or modern home, concrete or wood retaining walls may look more seamless. Alternatively, farm homes or cottages look better with stone retaining walls.

Layer hillsides

If you intend to add a retaining wall to a hillside, consider adding multiple levels with walls at different heights or raised garden beds to create a layered look. One lone wall can look empty and lacking in your landscape design. To remedy this, be sure to add visual layers for a more cohesive design.

Incorporate garden beds and features

Adding garden beds or other exterior features like fountains, seating nooks, or a fire pit space helps make your retaining wall feel more like an intentional design addition rather than just a functional structure. Blend your retaining wall into a garden space or incorporate it with a path to make it feel like a part of your entire backyard scheme.

Don’t forget to add patio and gathering space

The best way to incorporate your retaining wall into your space is to blend it with a patio or other gathering area. Have your retaining wall extend to the patio. Or, add a smaller patio with a fire pit, small table, and chairs, or a greenhouse to make the design feel more intentional. This will help prevent the look of a lone retaining wall, which can easily become an eyesore in a design.

Retaining walls may have practical uses, but they aren’t just a functional addition to your design. You can use them as a feature of your landscape to create an aesthetically pleasing backyard. By following the ideas laid out above, you’ll have a stunning retaining wall that blends seamlessly with your landscape design.

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Amelia Wilson
Amelia Wilson (author pen name Amelia J. Wilson) is a content writer in Greenwood, IN. She often enjoys topics on…
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