Stone Retaining Wall Explained

Stone Retaining Walls Explained

A stone retaining wall can be used in many different ways. For both practical or aesthetic reasons. To terrace a steep sloping site, for retaining garden beds, to define boundaries, to create a usable outdoor space or even to add some interest to your garden. Whatever the purpose, your stone retaining wall needs to be well constructed to ensure it is safe, hassle-free and maintains its integrity.

What Is A Stone Retaining Wall?

A retaining wall, as the name suggests, is a wall to retain earth when there is a significant change in elevation, preventing soil from flowing onto the lower level. Retaining walls can be used for anything from simple garden edging all the way to large walls built several metres high and spanning many meters in length. Built to control land erosion, redirect water and prevent landslides, a stone retaining wall is usually needed when a slope has lost its natural stability or is made up of unstable materials, such as sand or gravel.

Types of Retaining Walls

Most retaining walls fall into one of these three categories:

Cantilevered Retaining Walls

This type of wall relies on steel reinforced concrete structures placed within the slope. Pressing on the footings, the weight of the slope counteracts the downhill direction of the earth.

Pile Retaining Walls

These retaining walls rely on piles or sheeting that is driven into the ground to counteract the weight of the sloping earth. Working in a similar way to a leaver, taller walls of this kind often need the extra support of tie-back cables planted into the ground, helping to keep your wall vertical.

Gravity Retaining Walls

Relying on their own weight to anchor them in place, these walls prevent land from shifting. They are usually wide and heavy and made from durable materials such as stone, concrete or brick. They are often built tilting slightly back towards the soil they are supporting compensating for the pressure from the earth.

Retaining Wall Materials

As well as stone retaining walls, there are many other materials that can be used.

These materials include:

Sleeper Walls

A sleeper wall is one of the most popular choices; it is cost effective and easier to install. However, timber does eventually deteriorate and rot, so a concrete sleeper is a longer lasting solution.

Gabion Walls

These are reinforced steel cages that are filled with stone or pebbles. With great drainage, these walls are ideal for waterlogged sites.

Rock Banks

Using the natural slope of the site, a large bank of boulders and rocks are used to create a wall structure. These can accommodate vegetation for erosion resistance and added strength.

Masonry Walls

Layers of rendered blocks or brick are stacked on top of crushed rock or concrete footing and finished off with a capping paver. These walls can stand higher than some other retaining walls but require thoughtful footings and drainage.

Dry Stone Retaining Walls

These are a mortar-free wall built from deliberately chosen rocks and stones. They require a wide base for strength and stability and when done correctly are an attractive addition to any outdoor space.


To find out which retaining wall would best suit your needs, give us a call at Solé Structural Landscapes.

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