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Retaining Walls for a Sloped Backyard

​​Do you constantly wonder, “what can I do with my sloped backyard?”.  A retaining wall can enhance the functionality of your outdoor space. Thus, your yard can become a place to relax after a long day or to entertain guests on a summer night. 

There’s a wide range of simple retaining wall ideas for sloped backyards trending on the internet these days. To help narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a list of our five favorite ideas. Before we dig into each one, let’s go over the obstacles of having a sloped yard.

Challenges of a sloping yard

If you’re a homeowner with a sloped backyard, you’ve likely dealt with a fair share of hardscaping challenges. A steep yard increases the risk of water drainage and erosion issues. As a result, any landscaping project can be a hurdle.

This is where a retaining wall saves the day. These walls provide an efficient and beautiful way to solve a host of problems caused by sloped yards. And there are many different ways you can incorporate them into your landscape. When executed properly, retaining walls transform your sloped backyard from a problem area into an oasis.

But, before we cover retaining wall ideas for sloped backyard, let’s discuss what a retaining structure is.

What’s a retaining wall?

A retainer wall is a vertical structure that supports soil laterally. In other words, it holds back the soil from sliding downhill.

This structure extends outward from the foundation of a home and can be made from a variety of materials. A few common materials that are used to make these walls include concrete, brick, and stone.

What’s a retaining wall used for?

Retaining structures make sloped yards functional in a variety of ways. They can do this by preventing erosion, improving drainage, creating more space, and so on. So, there are many different situations where building one for your yard would be useful. But, the main purpose of retaining walls is to keep soil in place, which protects the foundation of your home.

The purposes of retaining walls can overlap with the benefits they provide. So, we’ll explore the benefits further.

Benefits of retaining walls on backyard slopes

There are numerous advantages to building a retaining wall in your yard. We’ve made a rundown of the top five. For each one, we’ll give the best retaining wall ideas for a sloped backyard that serves the given benefit.

Prevent erosion

The soil in your yard will inevitably shift over time near the foundation of your house. This is why retaining walls are key for sloped backyards. They prevent erosion by anchoring soil to the wall. Plus, they are very strong. A 15 x 4 foot retaining wall can hold back up to twenty tons of soil! 

Best ideas

To stop erosion from wreaking havoc on your landscape, stack paving stones or concrete blocks together. These materials are among the sturdiest for retaining structures. Therefore, they resist pressure from the surrounding soil and prevent erosion.

For a contemporary curb appeal, use poured concrete for a smooth finish. Poured concrete enables you to easily add a layer of stucco or paint. With stucco or paint, you can get creative and enhance your retaining wall in any way you like.

Set boundaries

Retaining walls are a great landscaping idea for shaping out areas in your backyard. They can add definition to your outdoor area by separating one zone from another. Thus, they create clear, defined spaces in a yard that would otherwise appear ambiguous.

Best Ideas

You can use a retaining structure to draw a border that shows where one zone of your yard ends, and another begins. For example, a retaining wall that wraps around a few chairs can create a space for socializing.

Another retaining wall idea for a sloped backyard is to line walls of concrete blocks along your driveway. This will define the space and give your home a more modern, upscale look.

Maximize space for use

Sloping yards don’t have to limit your usable space. Retaining structures help create more space to maximize your yard’s potential. Regardless of how steep your backyard slope is, a retaining wall will let you use every single inch of it!

Best Ideas

The slopes and hills in your backyard can wipe out what could be a precious area. This is why the terracing technique is a great retaining wall idea for a sloped backyard. 

Terracing is breaking up a large retaining wall into smaller, staggered walls. This technique is helpful if your backyard requires a very big retaining structure. By breaking up the wall, an array of options for creative landscaping opens up.

For example, a broken-up retaining wall made from concrete or brick can be set up in a straight pattern. This will give your backyard a modern touch. Conversely, you can make a curved wall from different stones for a cottagecore style.

Important note: Terracing requires a great amount of effort and skill. Likewise, creating a bad retaining wall will result in you going back to the drawing board. So, make sure to do your research or hire a professional when considering this method.

Prevent flooding

A retaining wall is an especially good idea for a steep backyard where there’s a high risk of flooding. It lowers the risk of water running toward your home’s foundation by diverting water run-off. Directing water away from your house is how a retaining structure can control the moisture in your yard.

Retaining walls also prevent water from flowing to the lowest area of your yard. This is one of the biggest advantages of having a retaining wall since water pooling can lead to flooding. And as a result, ruining your home’s foundation.

Best Ideas

A clever retaining wall idea for a sloped backyard to prevent flooding involves stacking pieces of stones. Stone retaining walls are resilient to harsh weather. Plus, the spaces between stones enable natural drainage. This makes a retaining structure built from stones effective for flood prevention.

As a bonus, stone walls also create a beautiful, vintage appearance. Their charming look will take your yard back to yesteryear. Some trending stones include flagstones, fieldstones, and sedimentary rocks.

Pro-tip: Use stones that match the color of your home’s exterior to blend with your overall design.

Improve aesthetics

Because retaining structures help to organize a yard, they create a landscape that’s more pleasing to the eye. Likewise, there are so many different materials, shapes, colors, and styles of retaining walls to complement your home. Thus, retaining walls are great for enhancing curb appeal.

When it comes to aesthetics, there are many retaining wall ideas for sloped backyards. Here are our favorite two, which involve stucco and capstones.

Best Ideas

Stucco is a durable material that reveals a timeless appearance. To increase the aesthetics of your backyard, consider adding a layer of stucco. Once you prep and moisturize the surface, stucco bonds well to concrete or masonry. So, apply a layer to your concrete or masonry retaining wall to give it a textured, classic look.

You can take this a step further and add a capstone to your wall. A capstone is a concrete cap trim that covers the top of your wall to add a finishing, polished touch. Capstones come in a wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes. For this reason, you can use them to match or contrast with your retaining structure.

A sloped backyard you’ll love to hang out in

Don’t want to make retaining wall construction your DIY summer project? We get it. Building a retaining wall on a sloped surface can seem like a daunting task. But, it doesn’t have to be.

With the help of a landscaping professional, these retaining wall ideas for sloped backyard can boost your home’s value. Plus, they also provide an appealing outdoor space you’ll want to spend time in.


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