Backyard retaining walls do not always need to be giant structures. They can be if necessary, but most often they help eliminate an inconvenient or slight slope. After all, nothing disrupts family fun like having a ball that rolls away to the fence line or down the hill with every kick or throw. Here are some things to consider and simple tips to help choose the retaining wall that best fits your property.
The Why of Backyard Retaining Walls
Purpose of your retaining wall. Retaining walls can serve various purposes for your backyard, so it’s important to know why it’s necessary. The first and most important step is determining the purpose of your retaining wall. Will your wall be converting a steep slope into usable space, or smaller applications like containing soil for new gardens? Whether it’s a privacy wall from nosy neighbours or serves more practical purposes, these factors all come into play.
Choose wisely. Whether you’re a do-it-yourself ‘weekend warrior’ or an experienced contractor, the type of retaining wall block you choose is vital. Selecting the right retaining wall system can be paramount to the success of your project. Take time to learn as much as you can about the benefits and potential drawbacks that come with these materials. Proper installation of your retaining wall can last for generations. Improper installation is the plague of our industry and can cost serious time and money.
Get a feel for each block. With both the smaller 6” (150mm) high blocks like MiraStone, StoneLedge or StoneVista and the 8” (203mm) high blocks like CornerStone 100, the colors and textures can vary. We recommend you check out Where to Buy and contact your nearest dealer to see them for yourself. Some dealers charge a minimal fee for samples you can take home to turn and stack in your backyard.
Considerations for Your Property
Location, location, location. If it’s a central wall you’re looking at every single day, the aesthetics will be a prominent factor. In that case, we recommend a slightly slimmer profile 6” (150mm) high blocks provide an elegant touch and plenty of lines. MiraStone, StoneLedge or StoneVista are perfect options, offering double-sided facings for high-traffic areas like retaining walls surrounding patios and pools.
Alternatively, 8” CornerStone 100 blocks are excellent, long-lasting systems for taller, complex uses like soil retention and reinforcement. CornerStone 100’s single-facing design is also our most popular block, making it accessible and easy to find. Discover where your nearest CornerStone dealer is by clicking here.
The heavy lifting. Although CornerStone retaining wall blocks are some of the lightest on the market, they are still a handful to carry and install. The 6” blocks are usually lighter and easier to lift, a huge benefit when working with them all day long. With that in mind, 8” blocks cover one full square foot of retaining wall, which helps tackle jobs quicker with less blocks.
We recommend speaking with your local CornerStone dealer, as using less 8” blocks can result in some great cost-savings too. Both homeowners and contractors love working with CornerStone retaining wall blocks because of their quick and easy installation techniques. Be sure to check out our free CornerStone 100 retaining wall installation course or call a professional installer.
Backyard retaining wall features. Opportunities are virtually unlimited in terms of features that can accentuate your backyard retaining wall to make it stand out. When most people envision retaining walls, they can’t imagine the creative, versatile applications available to them.
Possibilities include CornerStone’s Fence Post-In system, built-in BBQ stands, pillars and curves which can give your outdoor haven the atmosphere you’re aiming for. From family lounge areas to functional entertainment space, CornerStone’s design ideas can provide inspiration for your backyard builds.
Building Stairs Opens Up Yard Space
Steps to save space. Retaining walls for your backyard may require stairs to access a lush forest or your very own “back 40”. Now you can easily plan out how to build your own custom stairs using the same blocks and materials. Check out our how-to page for guides on building stairs to get you on the right track.
Your backyard’s guiding light. When building stairs, remember to add lighting for safety and a distinguished night-time look. Lights can change the feel and flow of the steps since they come in so many shapes and forms. We recommend an LED hardscape light. These lights last a lifetime, are readily available and profile beautifully underneath the step caps to keeps them subtle.
Break it up with terraces. If looking directly at a retaining wall isn’t your style, you can always add terraces complemented by plants and gardens. This provides a beautiful backdrop and potential green space to your yard. Terraced retaining walls can be as gradual as you like – depending on the space of course.
When it comes to building everlasting retaining walls for your backyard there are plenty of factors to keep in mind. Make it fun, enjoy the time in your yard and select the right block for your project.