The True Cost of a Retaining Wall

When considering installing a retaining wall, cost is at the forefront of most homeowners’ minds. The cost of a retaining wall, however, varies greatly depending on the conditions of the landscape. Homeowners should understand the main factors determining the ease of installing a retaining wall to better estimate the overall cost.


The price range can vary drastically for new retaining walls, as there are many options to choose from. Like any other home renovation, some upgrades and variables must be considered when starting.


The higher a retaining wall is, the more materials and labor are necessary for construction. While this may seem like an easy place to cut costs, in some cases, the land structure determines the height and purpose of the wall. Additionally, the wall’s height influences the type of block used. There are also limitations on how high some of the retaining wall blocks can be stacked. Homeowners must consider the minimum height necessary for their wall and what kind of blocks can be used.


The type of block used to build the retaining wall is more easily controlled. Once the homeowner knows what block options they have to choose from, they can cut costs by selecting the least expensive option or choosing a block design that is less cost-effective but better suits their landscape design.


The type of soil in a yard is crucial to consider when designing a retaining wall, as it can influence the height of the wall and what blocks can be used. Heavy clay soils are especially singled out because of their high water-holding capacity.


How easily the machinery and builders can access the project site also changes the retaining wall installation cost. The more complicated a project is to access, the more hours of labor and machinery it can take to complete the project.


Rocks and dirt must be removed to make space for the retaining wall. Sometimes, these extracted materials are left on the property or even repurposed. However, hauling them away to be dumped somewhere off-site is often necessary and adds additional costs to the project.


Rebuilding a retaining wall is much less expensive than constructing a new one, but there are many factors to consider, as old walls can come with their own problems.


Rebuilding a retaining wall can be messy; while reusing the original blocks is cost-effective, it is not totally free. Each block must be extracted and cleaned of all debris and dirt before reuse to ensure that the blocks can be laid flat.


If the previous job had any backfill, the crew must remove and dispose of all backfill from the job site, which increases labor and costs.


If the retaining wall has fallen, the original wall may not have been constructed properly. Whether it was not set up to handle water properly, there was not enough gravel or depth, or the blocks were installed incorrectly, there are big mistakes to correct before rebuilding the wall.


Most walls fail due to water problems, which must be corrected with grading, gravel, drain pipes, or other materials to ensure that the problem does not occur again.


In most cases, more blocks must be added to the retaining wall to ensure it is strong enough not to fall over, adding costs in materials and labor.

These are some of the factors that can add to the cost of building or rebuilding a retaining wall. While these possibilities may be overwhelming, doing the job right the first time is always less expensive than rebuilding after a poor installation.

Prestige Landscape Company offers landscape design, installation, and seasonal or ongoing maintenance for residential and commercial clients in Nashville, TN. We create hardscaping, outdoor kitchens or living spaces, functional and sustainable landscape plantings, sod installation, lighting, and irrigation systems. Our maintenance crew provides ongoing or seasonal service, including weed control, plant trimming or replacement, and more. Contact us for a free estimate at (615) 395-6351.