10 Retaining Wall Ideas for a Sloped Backyard

Written by  John Davies
Last updated: July 12, 2023

Retaining walls are common in sloped backyards and gardens, where people primarily use them to level a landscape and reduce erosion. However, they can play other roles apart from these two.

A retaining wall can also serve as the focal point of a garden and the frame of another structure. You can also use it to create usable space for planting or building garden structures like patios, pathways and sheds. As a matter of fact, the options are limited only by your imagination and experience.

Therefore, if you are considering building a retaining wall in your sloped backyard or garden, this is the right webpage to read. In just a few paragraphs, we will share 10 garden retaining wall ideas that will blow your mind.

Tiered retaining wall

Whether you call it a tiered, multi-tiered or multi-layered wall, this retaining wall idea is an excellent option for a sloped garden. It focuses on creating multiple (at least two) smaller retaining walls instead of one big one.

The result is a gentler and more stable landscape. The aesthetics also improve. Thirdly, you have more tiers of usable space to work with. So, you could plant in one tier and build a patio in another.

The article “What Are the Main Types of Retaining Walls? discussed the recommended maximum height for the main types. Always go with a tiered retaining wall instead of exceeding that recommendation. If you do choose to build a tired wall, separate each wall by at least twice the height of the preceding one.

Retaining wall Stairs

This retaining wall idea is a great way to solve accessibility problems and accidents in a sloped garden. If you don’t need the stairs, build a walkway instead. Either way, you can use a retaining wall to build or support either of these features. It will look great.

You can also take things a step further by building a meandering stairway or walkway and growing flowers on both sides of the structure.  

Retaining wall waterfall

This sloped garden retaining wall idea will set you back a few bucks. However, it is worth it. Totally!!! How many people can say that they have a waterfall in their backyard?

Now, imagine what this can do to the market value of your property. In fact, the impact on the garden’s ecosystem alone (especially if you also build a pond) could justify the cost. 

Retaining wall fire pit

This garden retaining wall idea is also a great way to add a focal point to your backyard. You can build an entire living space around the fire pit. As a result, you have a space to hang out and have fun with loved ones.

Sunken patio

A sunken patio is a patio that is on a lower ground level compared to the surrounding space. That means it needs a retaining wall extending to all four sides. Then you can add stairs (for accessibility) and other features needed to create a fun and comfortable living space.

Raised beds

In a sloped backyard, you may have to deal with soil that is not plant-friendly. In such situations, a raised bed planter can solve your plant-growing problems. And retaining walls are a great way to make raised bed planters.

To save money and simplify the task, we suggest creating multiple small raised beds instead of a single big one. Then bringing in some nutrient-rich and healthy topsoil. Finally, focus on above-ground vegetables because a raised bed planter has limited root space. 

Living retaining wall

This is a retaining wall that has plants actively growing all over it. To make this possible, a living wall has inbuilt planters. Then the planters are filled with a growing medium. A living wall could also include an automated system for irrigating and fertilising the occupying plants. However, you can also do these manually. 

Criblocks are the most common options for creating this garden retaining wall idea. However, no matter what you use, a living wall will make your garden unique and special. At the very least, it will create more planting space. However, for the best result, stick to easy-to-grow crops.

Natural stone retaining wall

Undoubtedly, this garden retaining wall idea is on the pricey side. However, there is no denying the impact it can have on your backyard and entire property. Apart from the aesthetics, a natural stone retaining wall is also durable and easy to maintain.

Options include slate, marble, sandstone, limestone, onyx, etc.

Metal retaining wall

Metal also has interesting aesthetics. The rustic look can perfectly contrast the greenery of a  garden. So, a metal retaining wall could be perfect. However, you will have to worry about corrosion. But you can combat this by powder coating, galvanising or painting the metal with resin-based paint.

You can buy prefabricated building materials or ask the installers to create them on-site. Leftover and recycled metals are also an option. As for the type of metal for building a retaining wall, options included steel, titanium, stainless steel, aluminium and copper.

Brick retaining wall

The best thing about this garden retaining wall idea is the seemingly never-out-of-style and universal appeal of brick. Let’s not forget its durability, heat-resistant and low-maintenance qualities. In other words, a brick retaining wall can raise the aesthetics of a sloped backyard by a thousand folds.


Retaining walls are incredibly fascinating structures. So, we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible. In fact, we have another article called 25 Wonderful Retaining Wall Ideas. If you plan to handle the project yourself, we recommend reading How to Build a Retaining Wall.

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