The Real Estate Encyclopedia
How To Choose The Right Blocks For Retaining Walls
Category - Home Ownership Questions - Building Your Home FAQ's

Choosing the right sort of blocks for retaining walls can be challenging, particularly if you don’t have much experience with these sorts of projects and, therefore, the materials used. Although there are plenty of blocks that can be used, we have covered the three main types in this article – concrete, natural stone and timber. We hope that the information provided enables you to make an informed decision for your project.


Walls built from concrete blocks are generally designed for strength, as well as fast and easy assembly. Simply stack them on top of each other and secure in place with pins, clips or interlocking edges. They’re set on a gravel base, which allows them to flex slightly with ground movement whilst remaining strong. These days, there is a wide variety of shapes, textures and colours to choose from, ensuring that the wall doesn’t have a cold and commercial appearance.

It should be noted that concrete can pose a number of design issues, including: curves, corners, steps, caps (which are used to seal the last row of blocks) and setbacks. These should always be considered in the initial design stage.

Natural Stone

Retaining walls built from natural stone are often said to be the most attractive of all the available options. There are a wide variety of choices available, ensuring that stone will suit just about every style of property. It should be noted that this material is also one of the most expensive and that it takes a lot of skill and time to build with. One of the best things about this material is that it can be used in larger walls, providing you’ve obtained proper engineering.

Stone blocks for retaining walls generally fall into three main types – rubble walls (random sizes and shapes fitted together), cut stones (split in the quarry) and boulder walls (which consist of larger stones).


Although they’re beginning to fade in popularity, timber is still a fantastic choice for many homes (particularly if you’re going for a more rustic look). It’s also a great choice when cost is an issue, as timber is one of the more affordable materials available. The wall is set on a gravel base to allow for adequate drainage and the planks are fastened together using long spikes or screws. Only choose timbers that have been appropriately treated for outdoor use.

You can choose to use either standard lumbar (such as 2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8s and so on) or timbers (such as 4x6s and 6x6s). One of the best things about timber is that it is easy to incorporate angles and steps into the design.

If you’re trying to decide between blocks for retaining walls, we hope that the information provided above has been of great assistance. Just remember that there are more options out there besides the three we’ve discussed above, but most projects could be satisfied with either concrete, natural stone or timber. If you require assistance with reaching a final decision, do not hesitate to talk to the experts – they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

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