Retaining walls are an excellent addition to any property, providing not only a stylish visual element but also a practical solution to soil erosion and flooding. Retaining walls are versatile structures that can help you better organize your garden while adding value to your property. In this article, we will delve deeper into the topic of retaining walls, covering topics such as their construction, maintenance, and repair.

Types of Retaining Walls

Retaining walls come in many different shapes and sizes, each with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

One of the most popular types of retaining walls is the gravity wall. Gravity retaining walls rely on the weight of their structure to hold back soil, making them an excellent option for structures up to 4 feet high. For taller walls, a specialized engineer will need to consider factors such as lateral soil pressure, native soil consistency, and slope.

Another type of retaining wall is the piling wall. Piling walls use poles or piles that are buried into the soil and extend over it to hold back the wall. The role of the piles is to distribute the weight and take a good part of the weight off the wall.

Cantilever walls, on the other hand, are L or inverted T-shaped concrete blocks. The lower part of the wall is buried deep enough so that it can take on more pressure than a gravity wall. Anchored walls use cables anchored deep in the ground, preventing the wall from buckling or sliding away.

How To Complement Your Outdoor Space With A Stylish Wall

Retaining walls can be a stylish and functional addition to any outdoor space, but understanding drainage, maintenance, repair, costs, style, and materials is essential for making the most of these versatile structures.


Retaining wall design is a crucial aspect of the construction process, as it determines the overall functionality and aesthetics of the structure. When designing a retaining wall, there are several factors to consider, including the height and length of the wall, the slope and soil conditions of the surrounding area, and the materials used for construction.

One essential element of retaining wall design is ensuring that the wall is structurally sound and can withstand the weight and pressure of the soil it is holding back. The type of retaining wall chosen will depend on several factors, including the height of the wall and the surrounding soil conditions.

Another essential aspect of retaining wall design is aesthetics. Retaining walls can be designed to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape or to create a visual focal point. The choice of materials, colors, and textures can all contribute to the overall look and feel of the wall.

Working with a professional hardscaping contractor is essential for ensuring that your retaining wall design meets both your functional and aesthetic needs. A contractor can help you choose the right materials (retaining wall blocks) and design elements to create a beautiful and functional retaining wall that complements your outdoor space. By investing in the right design for your retaining wall, you can enhance the value and beauty of your property for years to come.


retaining wall installation


The materials used to build a retaining wall must be chosen carefully. When inspecting the soil type, ground elevation, structure height, and drainage system of your property, many factors must be considered to make the right decision. Concrete and concrete blocks are a durable and low-maintenance way to build a retaining wall. Concrete provides a clean, modern look to any property, while CMUs (Concrete Masonry Unit) can be covered with stone veneer, which acts as a purely aesthetic enhancement.

Brick walls, on the other hand, offer a warm and welcoming feel to your property and are resistant to extreme weather, making them low maintenance. Wood retaining walls provide a natural look to your landscape and are easy to install. However, they have a shorter lifespan and may require more maintenance. Boulder, limestone, and natural stone retaining walls are some of the best-looking and durable garden or retaining walls. They are more expensive than other building materials, and drainage must be carefully planned for such projects.


Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and functionality of your retaining wall. One of the most critical aspects of retaining wall maintenance is proper drainage. Drainage systems should be inspected and cleared regularly, preventing water from pooling behind the wall and compromising its structural integrity.

Another important maintenance task is checking for signs of wear and tear. Cracks, bulges, and tilting are all signs that your retaining wall needs repair. These issues are usually caused by factors such as soil erosion, excessive weight, or inadequate drainage.


If you notice any signs of wear and tear on your retaining wall, it's essential to repair them promptly. Repairing a retaining wall can help to extend its lifespan and prevent further damage. Some of the most common types of retaining wall repairs include replacing or repairing damaged bricks, stones, or blocks, patching cracks and holes, and reinforcing the structure with additional materials.


The cost of building a retaining wall varies depending on factors such as materials, wall height, and soil type. It also depends on the location of the retaining wall, waterproofing, land preparation and drainage.

Generally, the larger and taller the retaining wall, the more expensive it will be. Generally, the average retaining wall cost is between $20-$50 per square foot. However, costs can be significantly higher for larger or more complex projects, and the expertise of your retaining wall builders can also influence the bottom line.

Because the price can vary so much based on the purpose, material, location and size of the wall, it is best if you contact us to get a more accurate quote.

Retaining Wall Installation

Building a retaining wall is not an easy task, and it requires a great deal of planning and preparation. Before starting construction, you will need to determine the location and design of your retaining wall. A professional retaining wall contractor can help you choose the right materials, provide an accurate cost estimate, and ensure that the structure is built to last.

Retaining wall construction typically involves digging a trench and installing a base course of gravel, which helps to provide drainage and stability. The wall is then built up layer by layer, with each layer secured using specialized adhesive and/or pins. Once the wall is built, backfill is added to the soil behind the wall, providing additional stability and support.


Proper drainage is crucial for the longevity of your retaining wall. Drainage systems should be installed during construction and maintained regularly to prevent water from pooling behind the wall. Poor drainage can cause water pressure to build up behind the wall, leading to soil erosion, cracking, and structural failure.

Drainage Aggregate

Drainage aggregate is a crucial component of retaining wall construction, and its installation is necessary to prevent water from accumulating and causing damage.

Drainage aggregate typically consists of crushed stone, gravel, or other porous materials that allow water to flow freely through them. It is installed behind the retaining wall, starting at the base and extending up to the top. The size and depth of the drainage aggregate layer depend on the height of the wall and soil conditions.

When a retaining wall is built, the soil behind it can become saturated with water, leading to hydrostatic pressure buildup, which can cause wall failure. Drainage aggregate provides a path for water to flow down and away from the wall, preventing hydrostatic pressure from building up. This allows the retaining wall to function properly and provide the necessary support.

While crushed stone and gravel are commonly used for drainage aggregate, they can be prone to clogging and require maintenance. Geotextile fabric is a synthetic material that can be used instead of crushed stone or gravel. It allows water to pass through while preventing soil and sediment from clogging the drainage layer. Although it is more expensive, it can provide superior drainage performance and require less maintenance over time.

Aside from its practical use, drainage aggregate can also be used to improve the overall aesthetic of the retaining wall. Different types of aggregate can be used to create interesting patterns and textures, adding visual interest to the wall.

It is recommended to install a minimum of 12 inches of drainage aggregate for retaining walls up to four feet in height. For taller walls, additional drainage aggregate may be required. Working with a professional retaining wall installer is essential to ensure that the proper drainage aggregate is selected and installed to provide optimal performance and longevity for your retaining wall.

In summary, drainage aggregate plays a critical role in retaining wall construction. Its installation is necessary to prevent water buildup and keep the wall stable over time. By selecting the appropriate drainage aggregate and working with a professional retaining wall installer, you can ensure the longevity and functionality of your retaining wall.

Drainage Pipes

Drainage pipes are another important component of retaining wall construction. They are used to further enhance the drainage system by providing a direct path for water to flow away from the wall.

When a retaining wall is built, it is important to consider the slope of the soil behind the wall. In some cases, a slope can create a concentrated flow of water that can put additional pressure on the wall. In these situations, drainage pipes can be used to collect and redirect water away from the wall.

Drainage pipes are typically made of PVC or corrugated plastic, and they come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different amounts of water flow. The pipes are installed behind the wall, and they can be connected to a drainage system or outlet to direct water away from the area.

In addition to their functional role, drainage pipes can also be hidden within the retaining wall design to create a seamless and visually appealing look. For example, pipes can be covered with decorative aggregate or incorporated into the design of a water feature.

Overall, drainage pipes are an effective solution for managing water flow behind a retaining wall. They can help prevent damage to the wall and surrounding areas, ensuring that the wall remains stable and functional over time. If you are considering a retaining wall project, be sure to consult with a professional installer who can recommend the appropriate drainage solution for your specific needs.

Retaining Wall Options

There are many different options available for retaining walls, each with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a retaining wall, consider factors such as the height of the wall, the slope of the surrounding soil, and the overall look and feel you want to achieve.

Concrete retaining walls are a popular choice, as they are durable and low maintenance. Concrete blocks can also be covered with stone veneer to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the structure. Brick walls offer a warm and welcoming feel and are low maintenance. Natural stone and boulder retaining walls are some of the most durable and visually appealing options, but they are more expensive and require careful planning to ensure proper drainage.

Railroad tie retaining walls are an affordable option but may have a shorter lifespan and require more maintenance. Masonry retaining walls offer a customizable design, but they are often more expensive than other options. Additionally, hardscape retaining walls offer a wide range of design possibilities and can incorporate features such as steps, lighting, and seating.

Retaining Walls vs Garden Walls

When it comes to outdoor hardscaping, the terms "garden walls" and "retaining walls" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. While both types of walls can add visual appeal and functionality to your property, they serve different purposes and have different design considerations.

Garden walls are primarily decorative, meant to define and enhance outdoor spaces. They can be built in a variety of styles and heights, using materials such as brick, natural stone, or concrete blocks. Garden walls can be used to create outdoor rooms, seating areas, and decorative features such as fountains or planters.

Retaining walls, on the other hand, serve a functional purpose, preventing soil erosion and flooding. Retaining walls are typically taller than garden walls and must be designed to withstand the weight and pressure of the soil they are holding back. As a result, they often require more planning, preparation, and specialized engineering than garden walls.

While both types of walls can be built using similar materials and techniques, the design and construction considerations are different. It is essential to work with a professional hardscaping contractor who understands the differences between garden and retaining walls and can help you choose the right option for your unique needs and preferences.

In conclusion, garden walls and retaining walls are two distinct types of hardscaping features, each with its own unique set of design considerations and purposes. Whether you are looking to add visual appeal to your landscape or prevent soil erosion, working with a professional contractor is essential to ensure that your project is built to last and meets your specific needs.

Choosing the Right Retaining Wall Contractor

When it comes to building a retaining wall in Chicago and nearby, it is essential to choose the right contractor. A professional contractor can help you choose the right materials, provide accurate cost estimates, and ensure that the structure is built to last. Look for a contractor with experience building retaining walls and a track record of success. Ask for references and read online reviews to get a sense of their level of expertise and professionalism.

Retaining walls are a practical and stylish addition to any property, providing visual appeal while preventing soil erosion and flooding. When building a retaining wall, it is essential to choose the right materials, plan for proper drainage, and maintain the structure regularly. If you notice any signs of wear and tear, it's important to repair them promptly to prevent further damage. By choosing the right contractor and investing in proper maintenance, your retaining wall can provide long-lasting functionality and value to your property.

At R & G Almanza Landscape Inc, we have over 20 years of experience designing, maintaining, repairing, and installing high-quality retaining walls for residential and commercial clients. When it comes to your outdoor space, we understand the importance of choosing the right contractor for your hardscaping needs. We can help you build any type of structure, from functional retaining walls to segmental retaining walls and custom retaining walls.

Our team of experienced professionals is committed to providing personalized service and attention to detail throughout every step of the process. We work closely with you to understand your unique needs and preferences, designing a retaining wall that is both functional and beautiful.

In addition to our installation services, we also offer comprehensive maintenance and repair services to ensure that your retaining wall is always in top condition. Our regular maintenance services can help prevent issues such as soil erosion and drainage problems, while our prompt repair services can prevent small issues from turning into more significant problems down the road.

When you choose R & G Almanza Landscape Inc for building a new retaining wall, or for maintenance and repair, you can trust that you are working with a company that is dedicated to customer satisfaction and quality craftsmanship. Contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule a consultation for your next hardscaping project.