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How Much Does a Retaining Wall Cost?

June 01, 2017

Landscape retaining walls in the residential landscape are  a necessity to control erosion and level steep slopes. The homeowner often doesn’t have much of a choice when replacing a landscape wall and the cost can be very surprising. Keep in mind there is no standard cost for installing retaining walls because size, material, and labor varies so much. But before jumping into a large landscape project, consider these variables of building a landscape wall.

  • Wall Size & Engineering
  • Wall Material
  • Site Access
  • Excavation & Removal
  • Extras

Wall Size & Engineering

Bigger walls equal more money. Obvious statement, right? Larger walls will require more material, more time, and more labor. However, if the wall is more than four feet, needs to support heavy loads, and has a unique shape, more engineering is required during the installation. Any wall taller than 4’ costs more to construct because it requires engineering and materials such as Geogrid to ensure stability. The price is also affected by how much load the retaining wall needs to hold as well as the amount of base, backfill and drainage needed for engineering and construction.  Learn the Basics of a Block Retaining Wall

 How Much Does a Retaining Wall Cost

Wall Material

The type of material used for a retaining wall can be the largest variance in cost. Boulders, concrete block, and natural cut stone are the three most common types of retaining walls. The cost of a retaining wall isn’t just dependent on the material though, the amount of labor and time to install is just as large of a factor. Boulders are the least expensive and natural cut stone is the most expensive. For example, natural cut stone is a higher quality material but requires extra time to cut and fit each stone into the wall. Installing a boulder retaining wall doesn’t require as much precision and the material itself is very common.  Compare the Three Most Common Patio Materials


Site Access

A site where materials and tools can be delivered directly to the location of the wall is going to be less expensive than one where materials must be hand carried due to narrow sidewalks or limited backyards. A project with tight quarters or extreme slopes will lengthen the duration of the job and make working difficult. More time and more labor raises the cost of the wall.

Boulder Retaining WallExcavation and Spoil Removal

Larger walls or those with extensive engineered footings will require a great deal of excavation. Removal of a large amount of spoils can drive up costs, as does the demand for a great deal of fill behind a wall.


Aesthetic Extras

There are a wide variety of extras that can transform a generic retaining wall into something spectacular. These decorative features cost more but can be  added over a period of time rather than all at once. It comes down to what you’ll be using the retaining wall for, as well as your entertaining needs, how long you’ll be living in your home, and how much you can afford at this time. Such decorative features include: Caps, Ledges, Mortar, Outdoor Lighting, Pillars, Seating Areas, Steps, Unique Designs, Water Features