Retaining walls perform an important function in your landscape, whether they are necessary due to the lay of your land or purely there to help add terraces or other dimensions to an otherwise flat landscape. Just because they are utilitarian doesn't mean that their design doesn't matter. The following guide can help you make a choice on the best retaining wall materials for you landscape.
Concrete block works well in nearly any type of retaining wall because it is durable. It can be used in both curved and straight applications, depending on the shape of the block that is chosen. Although gray blocks are common, you can also invest in concrete blocks that have been dyed different shades, such as terracotta, and that are cast in slightly different shapes, such as scallops. Block is one of the more inexpensive retaining wall choices.
Wood, usually in the form of railroad ties, is typically one of the least expensive options. The ties look good in more rustic landscape styles, where you prefer a more natural look in the yard. Wood retaining wall fences are also an option. Keep in mind that railroad ties and other woods are treated with chemicals to prevent rot, which can leach out into the soil. This can add toxicity to homegrown vegetables, so don't use wood in the retaining wall if it will be fencing in a vegetable or herb bed.
A dry stone wall can use any type of natural stone or boulders, but it won't contain mortar. These are not always as sturdy as concrete, so they are typically only used on decorative retaining walls where the soil behind won't be putting a lot of pressure on the wall. Dry stone walls can be stacked out of any type of stone desired, allowing you top opt for either a rustic look or a more cottage-like feel.
Brick and mortar
This is one of the more expensive options, but the mortar helps provide additional durability to the wall. Brick is a great choice for more formal or traditional landscapes, especially if you want to tie the wall elements into other brickwork elements on the home. Brick and mortar retaining walls are often used to create uniform terracing in a yard or to retain raised beds in front of the home or along a drive or pathway.
For more help, contact a landscape company that specializes in retaining wall installations.