How To Install A Retaining Wall On A Slope That Is Durable?

How To Build A Retaining Wall On A Hill or Slope

What is a Retaining Wall?

A retaining wall is a sturdy wall that is used to retain or hold back soil or water usually on slopes. The main reason for constructing a retaining wall is to oppose the pressure that is created by water, soil, or rocks.


You can often spot retaining walls while travelling through the mountains or hills. These strong and durable walls are built on either side of the slope of the hills to contain soil erosion and to prevent landslides so as to ensure the safety of travelers on slopes.


Retaining walls can also be constructed with a combination of other materials to contain water. For maximum strength and firmness, these walls must at least be as thick as half the height of the wall.


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If you are someone who is enthusiastic about building a retaining wall by yourself then you have stumbled upon the correct article. Here, we will learn how to build a retaining wall on a slope in great detail.


You will be provided with a step-by-step guide to help you construct the retaining wall. Some important tips and measures to be taken while building a retaining wall have also been stated in this article.


Materials Needed to Build a Strong Retaining Wall

The base material for building retainer walls can be anything from gravels, boulders, bricks and timber to limestone, gabion, concrete blocks and poured in-situ concrete. Some other peripheral materials that one would require to build a durable Retaining Wall on a slope are:

  1. A round point shovel or square blades shovel to dig a hole.
  2. Concrete to act as an adhesive between two bricks.
  3. Tinsel and Chisel, to level the uneven bricks or boulders.
  4. A landscape fabric and tape measure to calculate the dimensions of the wall before you start constructing it.
  5. A drainage system or drainage aggregate to drain out excess water.
  6. Some common instruments like rake, hammer, tamper and pick for leveling the ground.
  7. Paint veneer to decorate the retaining walls.

Before telling you how to build a retaining wall on a slope, we have stated the materials required for constructing it.


Steps Every Beginner Must Follow To Build A Strong, Durable and Aesthetic Retaining Wall On A Slope

The steps given below will tell you exactly how to install a retaining wall on a slope:


  1. Before starting the construction of a retaining wall, it is important to calculate and evaluate the number of things and materials that will be required to build the wall.

If you are using materials such as stone, bricks or concrete to build the wall, determine the width and height of the wall to avoid inconsistencies.


  1. In order to install a sloping wall, this is the next step a person needs to take to form the foundation. Dig deep and level the ground wide enough for the basic building materials to fit in. Then, cover the base of the trench with a hand tamper.


  1. Now you have to put the landscape cloth in the ditch. After placing the fabric, put the stones or bricks on it very close together, covering the entire fabric.


This will ensure the cloth/fabric remains firm in its place. You may use oshim stone for best results for levelling.


  1. Start the second layer of the wall using a vertical pattern. Use an adhesive mix (preferably a mixture of concrete) to the first layer and gently put up the next layer. Keep the process going until the holding wall reaches a preferred height.


  1. Make sure the wall is level. Fold the landscape fabric over the wall, reducing any excess. Apply the cap stones firmly with adhesive to hold and cover the landscape fabric.


  1. To facilitate the flow of water and to ensure that the sealing wall does not wet or hold water, install drainage pipes in your sealing wall. You need to hold the hollow pipe and lay it down the length of the holding wall, covering it with just enough filling.

Make sure that water can flow out of your pipe, either at the end or through an outlet in the middle of the wall.


  1. Place the amount of topsoil in a container made of holding wall. Add decorative items if you fancy such as plants, vines, or flowers as needed. Your retaining wall will fit perfectly.

This is how to install a retaining wall on a slope practically all by yourself with minimal guidance!


What Are The Different Types Of Retaining Walls?

As you have already understood ‘how to make a retaining wall on a slope,’ it’s time for you to know the numerous types of retaining walls that can be built on slopes and hilly regions or even in gardens for decorative purposes.


These walls can mainly be differentiated on the basis of the material used (apart from shape and size). Let us now have a look at the several types of building materials can be effectively used to construct a retaining wall on a slope.

  • Retaining walls can be made of poured concrete or concrete blocks – These are the strongest kinds of walls provided there is adequate drainage.
  • Retaining walls can be made of bricks, stones and gravels – These kinds of walls are the most cost effective because bricks, stones and gravels are very easily available.
  • Retaining walls can be made of wood – Retaining walls made of wood look extremely pleasing to the eyes but are not as strong as the rest of the walls. Wooden retaining walls are usually constructed for decorative purposes.
  • Other materials used to build retaining walls are Limestone, Gabion, Boulders, pebbles, ply and so on.


Some Helpful Tips For You: Do’s And Don’ts While Building A Retaining Wall

Please make note the following tips while constructing a retaining wall.

  • Consult with an engineer before beginning to build the wall. Professionals can guide you by giving you accurate dimensions and measurements for a structurally strong retaining wall depending on your length, breadth, height, and space requirements.
  • Learn how to build a small retaining wall on a slope through online guides beforehand. Smaller walls are much more efficient, durable and less time consuming.
  • Please make sure you have made space for proper drainage. Most retaining walls crumble due to erosion caused by logged water behind the wall.
  • Make sure that you have chosen a material that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also is something that you can work with.
  • Prior to learning how to build a retaining wall on a hill you need to know that the base of the wall needs to be extremely strong, durable and well planned. The base sets the foundation for the rest of the length of the wall and is therefore the most crucial part.
  • Make sure to level the surface before laying the building blocks of a retaining wall. Starting to build on an uneven surface can be dangerous as the base will be weak and the wall could topple over at any instant.
  • If possible, try to construct the wall on a slightly backward slope. This ensures minimum water retention and is less likely to be pushed out by soil pressure than an ordinary vertical wall.
  • Ensure that you have backfilled accurately.
  • Try to avoid constructing one tall vertical wall if you have space to construct layers of short height walls. It not only enhances the beauty of the place but the structure is also much more durable and risk aversive.


Some Common Problems Associated With Building A Retainer Wall On A Slope

Given below are few of the most common issues people face while constructing a retaining wall even if you know how to build a retaining wall on a slope.


If you are a beginner who is just learning how to build a retaining wall on a hill, then you must adhere to the advice given below to solve the common issues:


  • If you build a very tall wall without providing any additional support, then the wall will most definitely collapse over time.To avoid this, consult engineers or professionals before building a wall that is taller than 4 feet by yourself. Ensure that you learn how to build a tiered retaining wall on a slope before you try to do it yourself.
  • Make sure there is a proper drainage system for accumulated water. Most of the retaining walls collapse due to lack of a proper drainage system.
  • Not having a permit for the wall you are building can have severe legal repercussions and that would mean you will have to demolish the entire wall. Make sure to get a permit before building a retaining wall.
  • Leaks, buldges and breakages are very common on retaining walls especially during humid summers or the monsoon months. Most walls that are left unattended during this period tend to collapse. So, keep an eye out for the cracks and breaks and keep repairing them continuously.
  • Last but not the least, the soil you are building on should never be too sandy or gravel based. Test the soil you are building the wall on before laying down the foundational blocks.


Related: How to start a vegetable garden? How to build shadow box fence?


How To Build A Retaining Wall On A Slope – FAQs

Q. What is the cheapest way to build a retaining wall?

A. The cheapest and most affordable retaining walls are usually made up of wood or lumber and poured concrete. Other cost effective ways of building a retaining wall is by using concrete blocks, stones or bricks.


Q. Does a 2 foot retaining wall need drainage?

A. All retaining walls must have a drainage system constructed with the help of perforated pipes, irrespective of the height of the wall.


Walls built with materials like poured concrete, cinder blocks and clay require special drainage system to ensure that water does not clog behind them. Effective drainage is necessary because water clogging behind retaining walls is one of the major reasons of them breaking.


Q. How far apart should posts be for a retaining wall?

A. The posts for retaining walls should be atleast 3 feet away from one another and in any case, the distance between 2 consecutive posts of a retaining wall should not exceed 7 feet.


It always a good idea to place the posts after doing proper calculations. Retaining walls that are higher than 4 or 5 feet need to be built by proper engineers who will calculate the distance between two posts of the wall accurately.


Q. How deep should a base be for a retaining wall?

A. By rule, one must dig a base deep enough to hide atleast one-eighth of the height of the wall. If you are looking for a specific number then one inch of base or footing will be sufficient if you want to know correctly how to build a small retaining wall on a slope.


Q. How do you build a wood retaining wall on a sloped yard?

A. Building a wooden retaining wall on a sloped yard is no different from building any other kind of retaining wall. The wood needs to be sized and evened out before it can be used to construct a retaining wall.


Special care needs to be taken with wooden retaining walls since they are not as strong as concrete or brick walls. This is how to make a retaining wall on a slope that will be made of wood.


Q. Which Blocks To Use For A Retaining Wall?

A. As we all know, blocks are placed together, made to stick together with the help of adhesive concrete and then interlocked together in order to construct a strong retaining wall.


The blocks that can be used to build a durable retaining wall are – bricks, stones, concrete blocks, and cinder blocks and so on. If you are familiar with how to build a tiered retaining wall on a slope, then you must also be familiar with the kind of material or blocks required to build a standard retaining wall.


Q. What Is The Strongest Type Of Retaining Wall?

A. Although the primary feature of all retaining walls is to be strong and durable, there is one particular kind of retaining wall which is the strongest of the lot. It is the poured concrete type of Retaining Wall.



This article tells us in depth about how to build a retaining wall on a hill/slope. All that you need you know and learn about Retaining walls including its types, methods of building it, common mistakes to avoid while building a retaining wall have also been provided in this article in a very comprehensive and concise manner.


We sincerely hope this article has made you aware about retaining walls and taught you how to make a retaining wall on a slope practically.