5 Retaining Wall Alternatives for Your Backyard Landscaping

If you have a sloping property chances are you have to deal with it in some way. How you go about it depends on the type of earth (rock, soil, etc.) and how steep the slope. While retaining walls are a common option, there are retaining wall alternatives to consider which we set out here.

Retaining walls are technically walls that are secured into the earth in some fashion.  However, retaining walls aren’t the only way to deal with slopes, whether in your backyard or elsewhere.

Below we list out and describe several alternatives to retaining walls.

1. Reinforced Soil Slopes

Reinforced soil slopes are a quick and easy construction style that uses a geotextile, such as polyethylene or polypropylene, to lock existing soil into place to create a reinforced mass. Due to the flexibility of the geotextile used in creating such a structure, reinforced soil slopes are able to withstand larger settlements and movement triggered by earthquakes. The average price for a reinforced soil slope is between $3.00-$27.00 per square foot.

2. Natural Stone Walls

Natural stone walls are retaining wall alternatives that can be used for a number of purposes. Most often, you see natural rock walls used in raised gardens, but they are also used retaining barriers to prevent landslides, along coastlines to prevent land falls and protect the coast from high tide. In some cases, they are also used for seating when large enough rock slabs can be found to create seats. The average cost for the installation of a natural rock wall is between $8.00-$12.00 per square foot.

3. Wooden Timbers

Wooden timbers and railroad ties are popular choices for creating alternatives to retaining walls. They are especially useful for building raised flower or garden beds and in terracing hillsides. Treated wood provides a natural look and longevity to a landscape’s design. The average price of installing a wooden timber wall is between $15.00-$25.00 per square foot.

4. Gabion Walls

Gabion walls are alternatives to retaining walls that use cages filled with rock, stone or sand to allow for the free flow of water down the slope while providing support for the slope itself. These cages are wired together and placed in a manner so that they are angled back into the slope and not stacked vertically. Gabian walls are currently priced between $4.00-$40.00 a square foot for installation.

5. Soil Bioengineered Walls

Soil bioengineered walls are relatively new to the landscaping market and feature living materials as part of their construction. Cut branches are paired with either a geotextile or rocks to provide immediate support that will grow into the soil. As the vegetation grows, it will provide a natural covering and texture to the wall. This type of retaining wall alternative is used most often to help protect and restore sensitive watersheds. The cost of installing a soil bioengineered wall can vary from no cost for the thrifty do it yourselfer to thousands for the less frugal.