curved retaining wall with green grasss

Do you really need a retaining wall?

We all want the perfect outdoor space and here at Vorstman Constructions we love bringing to life thoughtfully considered, well designed and perfectly executed landscaping projects. There are a lot of factors to consider about outdoor areas, including the oft forgotten but vitally important retaining walls. While not every project will need a retaining wall, it’s important that you understand what they are and what function they offer to determine whether you really need a retaining wall or not. 

What are retaining walls?

Retaining walls are used to create a barrier to two different sections of a garden. Built to be solid and rigid, the retaining wall retains the soil, grass, plants or shrubbery on either side. In a broader sense, you can consider all borders or partitions, whether it’s in commercial level agriculture or ancient agrarian cultures, used to separate land as a form of retaining wall.

Retaining walls are used to ensure that a backyard space is kept looking amazing and functioning perfectly. On an aesthetic level, the retaining wall keeps the garden neat and wonderful. On a functional level, it ensures nothing grows out of place or encroaches over areas you don’t want plants or grass to go. They are also able to prevent erosion by supplying greater support to the soil or contents, and slows the overflow of water when it rains.

When it comes to maintenance, retaining walls makes the ongoing upkeep of your garden easier and less time consuming. On a financial level, well designed and professionally constructed retaining walls like those we produce can add value to your home. 

Garden retaining walls can be made from a variety of materials and created to suit your style and home design preference. They can even be adapted to offer some extra benches or seating, or double as an external feature wall.

How do you know if you need a retaining wall?

Issues with erosion 

Erosion, which is the fancy term for soil or other earth moving from one spot to another, due to either water flooding, gravity over time or other movement on the surface of the soil, can be a problem in gardens. If your garden is on a hill or an angle, or you’re finding that the foundation is continuously slipping down, a retainer wall can help provide much needed support.

Extreme level changes

If you have two sections of the garden with different soil or plants that sit at significantly different levels or heights you have two options:

  1. Slope the soil from one section to the other; or
  2. Construct a retaining wall.

Of course, option 1 might not be a possibility depending on your specific outdoor area. Hence the need for a retaining wall.


Retaining walls can also be used to demarcate boundaries, especially in front gardens, to separate your property and garden from your neighbours’ We always recommend getting in touch with your local council before constructing these sorts of retaining walls and communicating with your neighbour before going ahead and putting one in.

Earthquake threats

If you live in an area that can be subject to earthquakes and you live on or near a fault line, the effect of even a minor earthquake can cause high levels of erosion. Well constructed retaining walls will help prevent this from happening. 

What sort of retaining walls are available?

Timber and wood

Using high quality wood or timber can be a very cost effective way of constructing a retaining wall. Timber, much like when used for decking, can really complement the rest of your natural-looking outdoor landscape. Bear in mind that wood is susceptible to weakening over time when exposed to moisture and water. We often recommend treated pine sleeper as a great choice for retaining walls.


Concrete can be used in two different ways. The first is in the form of interlocking or link blocks. Easy to construct and a great option for reclaiming sloped land or erosion damage, link blocks are also great for incorporating veggie patches or planter boxes. 

The other is in the form of solid-looking poured concrete. Concrete, of course, is a very durable construction material and will offer a long term solution for your garden’s retaining wall as it’s insect proof, resistant to rotting, and easy to clean. Concrete is becoming an increasingly popular choice for modern homes and gardens with minimalist design styles.

Natural stone or rock

Another classic design for retaining walls, like wood, natural stone will elegantly complement the rest of your garden design. There are plenty of different stone and rock types to choose from, so it’s important to consult the experts to ensure it’ll look and function well. Our team of landscaping experts are able to help you choose the right type of rock and rock-wall design to suit your preferences. Note: in most cases, natural stone is the most expensive option but still a great investment and worth the price.

Can you build a retaining wall yourself?

Technically, with the right materials, equipment, knowledge and skill you could construct a retaining wall if you need to. However, we always recommend hiring professionals–like the Vorstman team–to install your wall. The reason for this is to ensure that it is done properly. Badly constructed retaining walls can lean over time, bulge, become misshapen, or even crack. Not only will this blemish the overall look and design of your garden, but it can compromise the structural integrity and end up causing more damage and costing you more to repair or replace in the future. 

Professional landscapers have the experience and skill necessary to create a retaining wall that actually works and actually looks decent. It’s tempting to try to take a seemingly quicker shortcut and save a bit of money today, but the long term costs are not worth the risk. 

Choosing the best retaining wall contractor

Vorstman Landscaping Constructions offers a comprehensive selection of landscaping services including retaining wall constructions. If you’re still not sure if you really need a retaining wall or not sure what type of retaining wall you need, make sure to speak to our team today. We offer onsite consultations and thorough design services to keep your outdoor space looking and functioning optimally. Contact our team of retaining walls contractors and landscapers today.