Using Retaining Walls and Freestanding Walls In a Landscape

retaining wall concord ca


Designing your home’s outdoor spaces can add an element of beauty and functionality to your yard. When it comes to hardscaping there are various features like freestanding garden walls, patios, steps, walkways and retaining walls that you can incorporate to shape your site, deal with natural elevation changes, and define specific areas.

Retaining walls and free standing walls not only offer an interesting visual focal point in terms of your overall design, they also provide an important and functional structural element to your outdoor space. Retaining walls primarily perform an engineering function within your landscape, but can also serve as an aesthetically appealing design element in your landscape design. Freestanding walls, on the other hand, are primarily a decorative element that can be functional as seating, or a method for dividing or defining a space.

Let’s take a look at some of the differences between retaining walls and freestanding walls and why they are important elements in any hardscape design.


Retaining walls are first and foremost utilitarian and designed for supporting and holding back soil on a steep grade. They are used to terrace slopes to create level areas in your yard, or used on steep, near vertical or vertical slopes to keep the soil in place.

Retaining walls typically perform two separate functions in a landscape design. First, they provide stability and prevent erosion which can damage expensive plantings or even your home. Secondarily, they can be a beautiful visual element in your landscape design.


Using manufactured concrete segmental blocks or natural wallstones can offer the structural integrity needed to create safe retaining walls. The most important factor is creating a level, stable base of solid compacted gravel, several inches below grade. The base sets the tone and integrity of the entire wall. Make sure to allow for drainage when laying out the wall.

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Each course needs to be checked as it is completed in order to maintain structural integrity. Your retaining wall will need to hold thousands of pounds of soil in place. As each course is completed, add crushed stone, fabric, geogrid, or backfill to level the course. This material will also add support and structural integrity to the wall. To finish your retaining wall, finish with a top row of cap blocks to give it a perfect finished look.

Retaining walls can be curved to introduce visual interest and create texture in your landscape design. Using pre-formed blocks makes creating undulating curves easy. Because they are an important structural element to your landscape, any wall higher than a foot or so, should be engineered, designed and professionally installed to ensure their safety.


Unlike retaining walls, freestanding walls are not used to hold back soil but are purely decorative, however, they do perform an important function in any landscape design. Including a freestanding wall to a patio area can transform and define the space. A low wall with a granite cap can provide additional casual seating and give your hardscape a balanced visual appearance. Freestanding walls can incorporate columns, lighting, and even built-in seating to add depth, definition, and dimension to your outdoor space.

Freestanding walls are extremely functional in your landscape design. They can function as borders for raised planting beds, define and outdoor space, frame a view, establish visual focal points in your design and offer you privacy and increased security.


Today, manufacturers offer a variety of blocks that can be used for both retaining and freestanding walls in your design. They come in various sizes, materials, colors, and shapes. Using pre-designed curved blocks, blocks, flats and matching capstones, it’s possible to transform your yard into a beautiful relaxing oasis that can not only help to protect your home from the dangers of erosion but can also be a perfect spot for entertaining family and friends.

Here at Bayside Pavers, we carry a wide selection of materials from some of the top manufacturers to help you create your perfect backyard oasis. We can help you design and install safe and beautiful retaining walls and freestanding walls to help you define your space and add dimension to your design.

If you’d like more information, give us a call or schedule a free estimate! We’re always happy to answer your questions and help you create the backyard of your dreams. If you live in the San Jose area, stop by our showrooms located in Concord at 2455 Bates Ave, Ste K, or visit our location in Santa Rosa at 1619 4th Street Ste 12.

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