It is fun to design a wall. However, your responsibility as a homeowner is not only to focus on the design, but also to understand how a wall works to meet all its construction demands, so it won’t be a failure. Your preferred wall design should not hinder your wall’s amazing structure. Because if you base it solely on your desired aesthetics, it may lead to a poor retaining wall configuration which may cause severe troubles and damages in the future. 

There are also different factors to consider when building a retaining wall like it should have construction-friendly proportions for the concrete to be appropriately placed. And you may continue reading for other factors you should know, and you can also read below some well-thought small retaining wall ideas you may utilize in your wall project.

What Are the Design Considerations of Retaining Wall?

Of course, when designing your own retaining wall, you would want it to be perfect and durable. However, you must still consider other factors, and they should be suitable for your chosen retaining wall design.


When you are choosing your wall material, make sure to choose something that is long-lasting. High-quality retaining wall materials are hugely accessible everywhere, such as concrete modular units, brick veneers, poured concrete, flagstone rock, or vertical poles. You have to choose very carefully since you may have to use it for a lifetime.


Make sure the structural design or design of your wall suits your house or construction; otherwise, it would seem off. However, make sure that you are just not focusing on the aesthetics or appearance of your wall as it may not function properly. In addition, your aesthetic treatment should not in any way build up hydrostatic pressure because sometimes homeowners tend to neglect drainage for the beauty of their walls.

Drainage structures

The drainage of water should be adequately addressed because it can result in a retaining wall failure if not. Each wall should have space for the water to freely move and drain away from the wall, and gravel backfill or drain pipes can be used to properly drain the water.


As a homeowner, your responsibility is to ensure that your retaining wall’s base is sufficient to withstand any pressure and last long. Ensure that your retaining walls are built on structurally great material, which you must use gravel fill or earth that are leveled. The base thickness for dry-laid stone walls should be as high as the wall.

Security and safety

To build a secured and safe retaining wall, it must be stable against sliding. Another tip, every homeowner checks for wall overturning, so it would be recommended that you do the same. Overturning must be a minimum of 1.5. And then, the base of the wall must be safe in soil pressure, and the allowable soil bearing capacity should be greater than the maximum soil pressure.

Dimension and geometry

Your wall dimensions must be accurate and suitable to where you will build it; otherwise, it will fail. You should also consider the geometric proportions, including the base width, the thickness of the base, stem thickness at the bottom, the width of the toe, and stem thickness at the top. It differs depending on the type of wall you want; for example, for a cantilever retaining wall, the geometric proportions are:

  • Base width: L=0.5H to 2/3H
  • The thickness of base: D=0.10
  • Stem thickness at the bottom: C=0.10H
  • Width of the toe: B= 0.25L to 0.33L
  • Stem thickness at the top: minimum of t=250mm 

Type of wall

Choosing your retaining wall type will depend on your necessity, whether you decide to go for the structural wall made of concrete block or dry-laid. 


If you install a wall using dry-laid materials, you must prepare a budget ranging from $20 to $35 per square foot. However, please note that the overall costs will differ depending on the materials you will be using, your preferred wall height, and other factors such as labor fees.

Cheap and Awesome Retaining Wall Design Ideas

A retaining wall does not only assist you in keeping the soil, but it can also add curb appeal to your home since it can be built as a natural, random-looking wall or super extra-looking wall. It’s your choice! In addition, some say that concrete walls, although they do their functions, still look inexpensive. On the other side, here are some ideas you can take to make your properly functioning retaining wall extra.

Overlapping stones

This design idea looks extravagant if you have a larger wall space to cover. Stones are overlapped to create a simple yet complicated look that has a small shadow look.

Concrete Planter Boxes

This also has a shadow effect, but this one creates a bigger effect than the overlapping stones. You can match this concrete planter design idea to what you like since it has different designs, colors, and shapes.

Entwined Brick

As a one-colored retaining wall idea can go looking expensive and minimalist, entwined brick design broke that. This design is still head-turning since it is unique for having different colors that match. It is recommended to pair neutral-toned brick to achieve a beautiful-looking wall.

Interlocking blocks

If you are looking for a neat-looking design idea, you should go for this. It is interesting since the blocks are cylindrical, which adds more depth, making them more bizarre and extraordinary. However, it is your call to choose your own shape, but cylindrical blocks are recommended.

Concrete Block Retaining Wall

Something more straightforward, you say? This design will be perfect for you. You can use huge concrete blocks to add depth to your wall. 

Wooden Barrier

Install a wooden fence to your classic stone wall to create a more exciting look. It serves as a barrier but also as an added aesthetic to your wall.

Wooden Retaining Fences

This will look amazing in your garden because, as we all know, wood is naturally pleasing to look at. It can also match any decorations you put on it. In addition, if you are also tight on your budget, you can go for this as it is not money-demanding.

Tiered Terrace

If you want more seating space or rows for your plants, you can go for this design. Multiple low retaining walls to build up your desired terrace. However, it could be expensive and time-consuming since it will be harder to build multiple low walls than a single retaining wall.

Gabion Wall

Are you achieving an industrial look? Then this design is for you. Typically, gabion walls are built in the military bases since they have wire cages filled with bricks and stones, which creates more protection. However, most homeowners prefer to make this design since it looks fantastic.

Irregular Flagstone Wall

Irregularly sized and shaped pieces combining and matching up together look beautiful. It looks modern and stylish despite looking rugged because of the irregularity of each piece. 

Tiered Hedge

This looks fascinating as it is the combination of a tiered terrace and gabion wall. Instead of using a simple low retaining wall, a gabion wall is used. In addition, this adds more space for the hedges to grow.


Your retaining wall height is different because one side of the wall is higher than the other. And then, adding some brightly colored flowers will definitely finish and freshen up the look of your landscaped wall. 

Irregular Layout

This may look similar to the irregular flagstone wall, but the difference is this can create a seating nook. Forget about the simple straight or curved designs; a distinctive layout makes a unique look by building your retaining wall with unusual angles.

Can’t decide? Call a professional

All these design ideas can be overwhelming; however, consulting a professional can narrow it to one. Ensure to collaborate with a professional retaining wall contractor since they can give you suggestions and tips on which design you should go for. They can also give you free estimates so you can anticipate how much you will be spending on your wall project.