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Mar 05, 2024 Retaining walls 101: Everything you need to know

If you’re struggling to create a stunning outdoor space due to the slope of your land, we have the perfect solution for you: retaining walls.

Retaining walls are a fantastic way to tackle the challenge of designing a beautiful landscape on sloping terrain. These walls serve the dual purpose of holding back soil and preventing erosion while also adding an attractive architectural element to your outdoor design.

Whether you’re a property manager seeking to enhance the landscaping around your business or a homeowner looking to revamp your backyard in time for Spring, retaining walls open up a ton of elegant design options.

With a range of materials available, such as concrete, stone, brick, or wood, you can customize your walls to suit your preferences.

Why Should You Consider A Retaining Wall?

Walls have many different functions in hardscaping. They can create private areas with reduced noise and add a unique planting solution to smaller spaces. However, they are chiefly used to prevent issues with sloping and uneven ground and to reduce soil erosion.

Retaining walls work to reduce the effect gravity has in these unevenly sloped areas, helping to reinforce the ground and make the land usable and safe to walk on. The wall can solely act as a barrier or, when using the right materials, can be an attractive feature to appreciate at the same time.

If the land is prone to flooding, the walls help to control and drain away the excess water from rain, storms, or just over-eager watering. This structured drainage will help to keep the landscape blooming and stunning while addressing soil erosion and other issues.

A Necessary Essential

Assess the property and surrounding land. If you face any of the following, a retaining wall will be essential in your hardscaping to help you address the problems.

  • There are multiple slopes, and downhill erosion is a growing concern.
  • The property is downhill from areas where the soil is unstable and tends to shift quickly and without warning—also known as Soil Fault Lines.
  • You like your foundations, they keep the property up. Increased or uncontrolled flooding and soil movement can and will damage the foundations if not dealt with.

The protection that the wall can give goes beyond that of the landscape but extends to the property as well. This helps to avoid insurance claims and damage to the exterior walls and foundations.

Types Of Walls

When it comes to either commercial or residential retaining walls, there are two main types commonly seen: gravity retaining walls or reinforced walls.

Gravity walls use gravity to their advantage. Being a little shorter in height, they use their weight to hold back smaller areas of land. These are perfect when creating common staff areas or levelling out a section of your backyard.

Reinforced Walls are commonly seen as a grid laying over the soil. They use a form of reinforcement to give them strength and stability; this will look different for each project and is determined by the situation. These are typically seen on larger commercial grounds.


A retaining wall doesn’t have to be steel slats and wire. However, this can be an option for you.

Using natural stone, wood, vinyl, or even poured concrete, you can create a natural look or a contemporary look that blends in with a minimalist style and even enhance the cottage life experience, all based on the materials you choose.

When you start planning and creating your landscaping, you may want to think about adding this feature. There are many ways that they can work with your design, provide the safety your property needs, and elevate the overall aesthetic.

For Retaining Wall Hamilton, the overall design and feel can be accomplished and even achieved using the local, naturally sourced stone that is available.

Do’s And Don’ts

It’s easy to get carried away, run out, and spend all your money on every single thing you think you need (but probably won’t) and get started working on the landscaping as soon as the snow melts.

But we wouldn’t advise it. Plan things out and take your time. A few simple dos and don’ts will be the difference between a perfect wall and a disaster waiting to happen.


  1. Get help from a professional. Retaining walls can be extremely heavy, and can require the help of a trained landscaper and engineer to build them properly.
  2. Check with the local by-law to make sure that the wall is allowed and kept within the confinements of your property lines.
  3. Make sure that everything is laid evenly. Despite being used to level out sloped land, if the foundations are not laid evenly, this will lead to more issues later on.


  1. Forget about the trees. Established, mature trees will have an extensive root system. Younger trees will as well, but the mature ones will still be the bigger issue. If the wall is built too close, then the roots will take it out at the foundation level, and you will find sections, if not the whole wall, falling down at unexpected times.
  2. Ignore the rain. You will need to plan ahead for water runoff. If no proper drainage is included in the design, you get a backup of runoff water, which will erode the wall and tear it down (if it doesn’t flood the property first of course). Plan ahead and save time in the future.

Retaining Wall Hamilton: Get Help From the Professionals at JW Landscaping

JW Landscaping has been assisting businesses and homeowners throughout Hamilton with their landscaping for many years. Our expert landscapers have the knowledge, experience and skills to help create your dream landscape.

Landscaping construction is one faucet in which we excel. Our expert hardscapers can create the best retaining wall for your needs and remain within your budget. Designing for both function and safety, in addition to stunning curb appeal, is what sets JW Landscaping apart.

Let’s take your vision and turn it into a reality, call 905-512-6549 today or go online for a free quote and how we can take you and your landscape to new heights.

You can call us at 905-512-6549, or
contact us here for a free quote and begin changing your landscaping today!