7 Benefits of Adding Retaining Walls to Your Yard

Retaining wall of concrete and white flagstone being built along Maple Springs creek in Dallas

Are you on the fence, or shall we say wall, about erecting a retaining wall in your landscape? These 7 benefits of adding retaining walls to your yard might give you the nudge you need. 

If your property sits on an incline with limited functional space, a retaining wall can help transform that slope into a flat, usable surface. Is your yard suffering from erosion? Retaining walls can help with that, too. 

Let’s find out whether a retaining wall is right for your yard. We’ll also uncover the average cost of retaining walls, common building materials, and budget-friendly solutions.  

7 benefits of retaining walls

retaining wall
Photo Credit: Redi-Rock International / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

1. Prevents erosion

Perhaps the most common reason homeowners install retaining walls on their property is to stop erosion. If your property is hilly or slopped, there’s a good chance that heavy rain, winds, and even irrigation will alter your geography. Think of retaining walls as a way to ‘retain’ the land and your property’s layout in its current form. 

2. Manages runoff 

Retaining walls can redirect the way water travels, particularly during a harsh storm. If flood waters encroach on your home each time it rains, a retaining wall can help prevent significant property damage. 

For example, when stormwater runoff soaks into your home’s foundation, the freeze-and-thaw cycle can create cracks, causing costly repairs. Managing stormwater runoff also protects local wildlife and keeps pollution out of our water.

3. Prevents sinkholes

On the topic of water, when heavy rainfall infiltrates the ground, it can erode the bedrock. When this happens, sinkholes can form. Areas with limestone bedrock are especially susceptible. 

According to the U.S. geological survey, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania are the most sinkhole-prone states. Retaining walls help prevent sinkholes by redistributing water and limiting pooling.

4. Adds structural support

retaining w all
Photo Credit: Redi-Rock International / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Your home needs a solid foundation, and that includes a foundation with sturdy soil. If your lot sits on an incline, a retaining wall can protect the integrity of your foundation and provide the structural support necessary to keep your home safe from unstable soil.

5. Creates usable land for planting and entertainment

Planting vegetation is a great way to protect your yard against soil erosion. But if your property has a steep decline, you may find it hard to grow anything. A retaining wall or tiered retaining wall can provide usable, flat surfaces.

What would you do with additional, usable land? Plant a garden? Create a seating area overlooking your property? Add a TV and bar for entertaining? Install an outdoor kitchen?  

6. Aesthetically pleasing

Whether constructed of concrete, natural stone, brick, or treated wood, retaining walls are an elegant, aesthetically pleasing upgrade to your home’s curb appeal. Retaining walls allow you to redesign unsightly drop-offs, create beautiful flower beds, and add texture to your property. 

7. Adds property value

retaining wall
Photo Credit: Redi-Rock International / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Continuing with the theme of curb appeal, retaining walls add property value to your home. The culmination of erosion control, structural support, functional space, and aesthetics means higher property and resale values. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, such investments in landscaping can add up to 20% to the value of a home. Plus, an average return of 100 to 200 percent in resale.

FAQ about retaining walls: 

How much does a retaining wall cost?

The cost to install a retaining wall depends on its size, location, and building material. The most affordable walls are vinyl or concrete, but the placement of your wall and the surrounding terrain can greatly increase the cost.

Homeowners can expect to pay between $3,565 and $9,645 to install a retaining wall or between  $40 to $345 per linear foot. The cost includes materials and the landscape architect’s typical rate of $60 – $175 per hour.

What is the strongest material for a retaining wall?

Poured concrete is the most robust and durable choice. It’s also versatile and can be stamped, stained, veneered, or carved to look like mortar stone.

How can I save money on a retaining wall?

Interlocking concrete blocks are a budget-friendly option for your retaining wall. These blocks typically cost between $2 and $5 per block. Interlocking concrete walls are a durable and cost-effective option for homeowners looking to save money.  

Do I need a permit to build a retaining wall? 

It depends on where you live. Always check your local ordinances or Housing Association policies before installing a retaining wall on your property. 

Whether or not your retaining wall requires a permit, it’s always in your best interest to see that your structure is structurally sound and well-maintained.

When to hire a professional

Adding a retaining wall is a huge project. To ensure your retaining wall is structurally sound, consider hiring a landscaping professional for the job, especially if your property has long or steep slopes. For help caring for your new, beautifully tiered lawn, connect with a local lawn care pro to handle the yard’s mowing, trimming, and edging. 

Main Image Credit: Jeff Herman photo, retaining wall being built on property beside Maple Springs creek in Dallas

Caleb Leonard

Caleb Leonard is a writer, gardener, and eco-warrior. He enjoys enlightening readers on the benefits native plants, eco-friendly pest management, and water-wise landscape design.