9 Retaining Wall Ideas for Sloped Backyards

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Finding the perfect solution for your sloped backyard can be stressful. Depending on how steep the slope is you may be able to add a simple garden, some stepping stones, or gradually build on the soil. It also depends on whether your yard slopes upwards or downwards.

Sloped backyards are excellent for turning into segmented spaces to maximize your outdoor living. For example, you could build in a water feature, flower beds or vegetable patches, along with building outdoor patios, decks and play areas.

Knowing your budget and gathering ideas is the place to start. Below you will find 9 retaining wall ideas for sloped backyards.

Retaining Wall Ideas for Sloped Backyards

Laying rocks or gravel on a sloping block can be dangerous. Sunken areas with no plant life are prone to high water tables and erosion. Stones roll, crack, or move apart, ending under heavy loads or intolerable pressure. Because of this, many landscapers use grass in the lower section of their yards to avoid such issues altogether. Moreover, this looks like a ‘racked-up’ lawn because it lowers over time.  

Removing a built-up lawn and replacing it with retaining walls is not necessarily the only solution to leveling a sloped backyard. Several other ideas are fun and inviting, such as using decks, finding multi-leveled gardens, planting vines, and other unique features that create some wow factor in your backyard design.

Here are some creative ideas that you can use to enhance the structure and vibrancy of your sloped backyard.   

Simple Retaining Wall Ideas for Sloped Backyard

Budget is a significant factor when designing your sloped backyard with a retaining wall. If you are tight on cash, you can choose a few simple and cost-effective ideas like stacking bricks, repurposing pallets, or rustic logs. 

Cinder blocks, on the other hand, add to the beauty of your retaining wall. Often, these construction materials are tossed aside or moved to a landfill. However, with some creativity, they can help you make a strong, durable, and weatherproof retaining wall. When using cinder blocks, you can either fill the holes in the blocks with concrete or paint them with a suitable color.   

Furthermore, you can build a vertical garden to support the sloped area or creatively cover it with different plants. Most people prefer using plants because they make an excellent hobby if you have a green thumb.  

Stone Retaining Wall Ideas 

simple retaining wall ideas for sloped backyard
Using large stones from the surrounding environment

You can build a stone wall depending on your location and access to stones of different sizes. Compared to timber and contemporary wood, stone walls are much cheaper.  

You can make one by simply stacking different-sized stones. It’s better to use large stones to build a solid base and structure and smaller ones to fill the gaps. Apart from that, you can use mortar to build a stone wall similar to typical brick construction.  

You want an option that does the job and looks suitable for a practical and aesthetic design. So, you might want to consider using one or more stone walls because, besides looking great in any setting, they are also built to last.

Building a frame and filling with rocks from your sloping block is an economical way of retaining sloped yards. You can get creative, such as welding together your own design, or using simple mesh panels or chicken wire to hold the rocks together.

This also allows smaller rocks to be used, whereas these on their own would be likely to tumble and fall.

backyard block wall ideas
Using smaller stones caged together to make block retaining walls

Wood Retaining Walls 

Not to be mixed up with wooden fences, wood retaining walls are often visualized as walls with railroad ties. However, you do not have to use railroad ties because their creosote can harm the soil.  

Instead, you can install similar-sized large boards to add to the style of your backyard. The aesthetic function is the primary factor you would be looking for when deciding on a wood wall.  

Although wood walls look sturdier, they are not long-lasting. Over time, wood walls break and are durable for a maximum of 20 years.  

When doing a DIY project, ensure the height is at least 4 feet. If you want a natural woodland setting with wood retaining walls, go for it. Don’t let the precautions and maintenance demands discourage you! Just be sure to follow them to make the most of your DIY project. 

Modern Flagstone Wall 

garden retaining wall ideas
A modern retaining wall where gardens can also be planted in between

If you have a modernist twist in your sloped backyard, consider installing an irregular flagstone wall. A flagstone wall is a head-turner and adds a dominant feature to your garden.  

Since they come in various designs and shapes, you can be as creative with the design as you like. At first glance, the natural-looking ruggedness is very modern and stylish. Gray is an attractive color to supplement a contemporary design, while the choice of block sizes will determine the aesthetic emphasis of the design.   

Garden Beds 

Like installing an island flower bed, retaining walls to keep soil in place for raised flower and garden beds is efficient. You can also transform your sloped backyard into a vegetable garden and grow organic vegetables.  

Although the vegetables will be seasonal, you can boost the efficacy of your backyard’s soil with careful planning. This way, you can grow various vegetables throughout the year.  

Raised vegetable beds are inexpensive as you can use crates or wooden boxes to provide your vegetables with an elevated path. Besides, flower beds of different sizes and colors can be the focal point of your sloped backyard. 

Composite Materials 

composite retaining wall ideas for sloped backyard
A composite block retaining wall

You can mix materials to enhance the charm of your sloped backyard and give a distinct vibe to your property. Installation of Cor-Ton steel sheets mingled with large boulders gives your retaining wall project a unique perspective.  

The design will offer an optical illusion to the viewer. When you look at it, boulders seem to be interspersed with a pliable metal sheet. The boulders add to the visuals while anchoring the wall in place with the help of pinned steel sheets.  

Concrete Earth Blocks 

Creating a garden that looks amazing while being a hassle to maintain is no good. Using concrete earth blocks for an easy construction solution will make the retaining wall a permanent and beautiful fixture in your garden. 

Watering and weeding become trivial with the suitable layout, and excavation for infrastructure like power and the internet becomes a thing of the past with a retaining wall design that hides it from view. 

Aggressive drainage of concrete blocks ensures water flows back into the soil quickly. Therefore, it takes nutrients with it and helps feed your plants. Hence, this solution will let you relax in your yard as it takes care of itself. 

Retaining Wall With a Pool 

landscape retaining wall ideas
Take advantage of the landscape and use the edge of the pool as a retaining wall

Directing water flow is the primary consideration when building a retaining wall in a sloping backyard. However, you can utilize this issue and make a natural body of water with an artistic approach. 

Not only do water features solve the water flow problem, but they also increase the value of your property. Ponds, fountains, and trickling streams are ideal solutions you can bring to your backyard.  

Some water features come with fixed designs. Others demand your creativity to build custom waterfalls and streams. Whatever the case is, the pool is one of the best water features to add to your sloped backyard.  

While you are already creating the wall for extra space, putting in something enjoyable, like a pool, will be your best bet. For this, you can build a concrete wall that deepens into the pool. The size of your pool will depend on the area of your sloped backyard. Moreover, you can maximize the looks with a vanishing edge or boulder wall lining feature, ensuring the deep end is spacious enough.  

Built-in Patio 

patio retaining wall ideas
Creating a designated patio with fire pit

A sunken patio or fire pit area is beautiful on its own. It results in timeless elegance, installed in shady areas with greenery in a sloping backyard. By installing a fire pit here, you can make this patio even cozier for quality family time. 

A graveled area is a typical solution to building a patio, but you can also create something innovative with concrete. You can create a stamped patio that will make your area luxurious and provide an easy place to clean and maintain.    

Furthermore, applying a sand wash finish can improve stamped patios’ comfort. Besides, fire features have an alluring appeal that you can place on your patio. But why consider any other fire feature when you can turn your patio into an outdoor kitchen?  

Outdoor kitchens are popular, not just for barbeque. You can also make way for a full-fledged smoker or dinner set-up. Since outdoor kitchens demand more space, you will have fun cooking with your friends in a patio kitchen! 

Retaining Wall Ideas for Sloped Front Yard 

retaining wall sloped front yard
Stagger the retaining in the front yard and build multi level gardens

The designs and ideas mentioned above are great for a sloped backyard, but what if your property has a sloped front yard too? In that case, you also have a list of different options. Regarding materials, for example, you have many choices, including stones, stone slabs, blocks, bricks, and wood. Gabions, fences, steep yards, garden walls, and stairs are additional designs you can look into. Most of these sloped yard designs demand professional help, while others are possible with hard work and artistry.  

Small Retaining Wall Ideas 

Regardless of their size, sloping backyards present a unique challenge regarding landscaping. Small landscapes need meticulous dedication, whether it’s a stone-paved pathway, an intricate landscape, or a manicured front lawn design.  

If you love working with plants, you can explore various small retaining wall ideas, including flowers. However, if your property is in a dry or hot area, it is better to consider landscape ideas with drought-tolerant features.  

Moreover, refining your small backyard into a playground or grassy area would make your yard enjoyable for children. You can set a swing or transform the area into a patio with a fire pit.  

Landscaping Ideas for Your Retaining Wall 

landscape wall ideas

Make the wrong decision about how to landscape your sloped backyard, and your lawn will remain a mediocre asset. Landscaping is an easy way to enhance your home’s curb appeal, but what do you do if you only have a few unlevel yard areas? You can apply some ideas for landscaping, such as a slope. 

Depending on the grade of the slope, you may be able to use grasses and groundcovers that prefer a more shaded area. Perennials with large leaves, like hostas and ferns, will also look beautiful when planted near trees on a hillside. 

If you would like to grow vegetables or herbs on an uneven mountain lawn, you’ll need to add raised beds or strategically place items like stepping stones or flat rocks underneath the soil to give plants proper support as they grow. 

Things to Consider for Your Landscaping Project 

A retaining wall provides an ideal spot for potted or planted beds as it stretches across the base of a sloped yard. These can also be arranged in various shapes. But there are other retaining wall ideas on your list you can choose from! 

However, you will need some basic building skills to build your landscape wall, so it’s essential to learn what is required ahead of time. Choosing the correct type of retaining wall for the yard is a must when determining the best-backed garden design option for you. 

For DIY and professional landscaping projects, there are many things to consider when planning and designing a retaining wall for your sloped yard. You must consider your budget; the materials should suit your backyard conditions. And then, there are regulations to follow, such as drainage requirements, the maximum height of retaining walls, the need for an engineer, etc. 

This kind of work is known to be a bit challenging. If you’re up for it, you can go through the entire process yourself. Otherwise, it might be a better idea to hire a landscaper. There are many ways in which a landscaper can help you achieve the desired results without spending the whole weekend doing it yourself.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

landscaping wall ideas

How Do You Build a Retaining Wall on a Slope?

Creating various step-ups is the first step to building a retaining wall on a slope. For this, you need to construct the lowest wall elevation by digging a base trench, typically 24 inches wide.  

Allow six inches to determine the depth of the trench. Besides, for one foot of wall height, you need to allow one inch for materials or the number of blocks buried.  

For instance, if your wall has a height of four feet, a base trench 18 inches wide with four inches of depth would be okay. Don’t forget to allocate enough space for installing the retaining wall design. 

You can break down the process of getting the trench compact and level, installing wall rock, and excavating the second step. After that, base course block placement and compacting the wall rock for blocks’ support.

Lastly, fill the step-up areas with soil or any other landscaping material. 

What is the Cheapest Retaining Wall?

Treated pine is the cheapest option for a retaining wall. You get what you pay for however, treated pine won’t last as long as hardwood, stone or composite materials.

What is the Best Material for a Retaining Wall?

Brick, concrete, natural stones, and segmental retaining wall blocks are some of the best materials you can consider for your project. Most come in various shapes and designs to suit your visual requirements without compromising vibrancy and durability.  

How Do You Retain a Sloping Block?

The most popular and efficient landscaping option for a sloping block is to install a retaining wall of concrete blocks or railway sleepers. These retaining walls are not only long-lasting but also pretty decorative. You can use these materials to add curves to your garden by picking up different colors.  

Does a 3ft Retaining Wall Need Drainage?

A retaining wall with a height of 3 feet or more requires a drainage system behind it. Also, the retaining wall design materials play a significant role in what you choose to apply afterward. For instance, if you dry-stack concrete blocks, the flat blocks will fit together tightly and will not allow water flow. Therefore, you should have drainage holes in 3-foot retaining walls. 

How Do You Landscape a Steep Slope Without Retaining Walls?

Retaining walls is the best way to keep the soil in place and prevent erosion. You can also build a deck or stabilize the soil with trees and plants. Moreover, installing a path of stairs is another good option to avoid retaining walls.  


You have the right to enjoy your yard but not to feel stressed with unwieldy slopes. Sometimes you don’t even need much space to make fun things happen. 

Simple retaining wall ideas for sloping backyards can transform a challenging landscape into a beautiful area to be proud of while keeping your home’s value in check. Bring your space to life with the relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere of a functional and well-maintained garden, level lawns, and terraces.  

Start with space and see what you can do with it. Look at how hillsides may be transformed into paths or rooms. With a bit of imagination and a splash of creativity; you can turn your sloping backyard into something wonderful!

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