Retaining walls are an essential part of any landscape design. They provide a strong visual barrier between two areas of land and also add height to a garden.

They can be used to create privacy fences, retaining walls, and even outdoor kitchens. However, there are different types of retaining wall materials available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of each type of retaining wall material, and give recommendations for the best ones.

What Are Retaining Walls Made Of?

There are many different kinds of retaining wall materials that you can use in your landscaping project. These include natural stone, brick, concrete blocks, poured cement blocks, wood planks or timbers, and more. Each has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to cost, durability, maintenance, aesthetics, etc., so let’s take a look at them all!

Natural Stone

This is probably one of the most popular choices among homeowners because they offer great value for money. Natural stones come from quarries where they have been cut into slabs by hand using traditional methods. This process takes time and requires skilled workers who know how to properly prepare the rock before cutting it into shape. The result is beautiful pieces of stone that are very durable and long-lasting.


Another common choice is brick. Brick pavers are made up of small rectangular shapes which are then stacked together to form larger structures such as walkways, patios, driveways, steps, etc. Bricks are easy to work with and require little skill to layout correctly. However, if you want something unique, you may not find what you like in stock anywhere. In order to get custom designs, you must hire someone else to make them for you. If you do decide to go down this route, remember to check the manufacturer’s warranty first. Some companies won’t cover anything beyond standard sizes.

Concrete Block

These are other options worth considering. Concrete blocks are usually square-shaped but some manufacturers produce round versions too. Blocks are typically laid flat on top of each other to build walls. Because they are heavy, they should always be supported while being built. Once finished, they can last for decades without needing repairs.

However, installing concrete blocks isn’t exactly simple. You need to drill holes through the blocks to insert a rebar inside them. Then, you need to fill these holes with mortar and attach the blocks back together again. It’s a lot easier to install wooden boards instead.

Poured Cement Blocks

Cement blocks are similar to concrete blocks except that they don’t contain steel reinforcement bars. Instead, they rely solely on the strength of the cement itself to hold everything together.

The downside here is that they aren’t nearly as sturdy as concrete blocks. Also, since they lack reinforcing rods, they tend to crack easily over time. For this reason, I recommend only building low walls around trees and shrubs. High walls are better suited for large projects.

Wood Planks/Timber Boards

If you prefer to keep things rustic, consider using timber boards. A timber board is simply a thin piece of lumber covered in plastic film. When installed, it looks just like regular plywood. Unlike concrete blocks, timber boards are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Plus, they are extremely versatile – you can use them indoors or outdoors.

If you choose to use timber boards outside, however, you might run into problems. Since they are designed primarily for indoor applications, they often shrink during exposure to sunlight. As a result, they become warped and lose structural integrity. To avoid this problem, you could try painting your timbers white so that they reflect more light than dark colors would. Alternatively, you could opt for painted wood planks instead. These look much nicer and cost less than timber boards.

Stone Slab

A slab is basically a thick layer of stone placed directly onto the soil. There are many advantages to choosing a slab rather than a brick or block paver. First off, they are incredibly hardwearing. Second, they are virtually maintenance-free.

Slabs come in all sorts of styles including flagstone, cobblestone, slate, granite, marble, travertine, limestone, sandstone, bluestone, and others. Each has its own distinct appearance and feel. Most slabs have natural variations within them, making everyone unique. This means that no matter how big or small your project is, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a suitable slab.

One disadvantage of slabs is that they are very expensive. If you want something really special, you may end up spending thousands of dollars. On the plus side though, if you do decide to go down this route, you won’t find yourself having to worry about replacing anything because they are practically indestructible.

Which Is The Best?

You should always consult a professional before starting work on your landscaping project. A qualified contractor will know which retaining wall materials are appropriate for your site, and what kind of installation methods are most effective.

For example, some people think that poured concrete is the perfect choice for a retaining wall. But, while it does make a great-looking structure, it doesn’t last long at all. In fact, when exposed to rainwater, concrete tends to erode away quite quickly.

This makes it unsuitable for gardens where water is likely to get trapped under the wall. It also isn’t ideal for high-traffic areas such as driveways and walkways. Instead, these kinds of structures need to be made from durable materials such as bricks, stones, pavers, and other similar products.

Our team at Retaining Walls Salem OR has over 20 years of experience in the embankment construction industry. We specialize in the design and construction of retaining walls for both residential and commercial properties. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that your project is completed on time and on budget. Contact us today to learn more about our services!