Retaining Walls Construction: How to Build Step-by-Step

A retaining wall construction project will enhance all the functions of your outdoor living room and increase the appeal of your landscape appearance. It is the most natural way to control erosion problems, provide usable space for your home, shape sloped areas of your property, or problems related to soil slopes to add more unique planting bed designs and create the focal points for your uneven properties. Building a retaining wall might seem simple to install and be reasonably priced with high maintenance, as well as a variety of colors, textures, ideas for almost all homeowners to choose to make use of their outdoor living spaces.

Retaining walls provide protection against the steep slopes, especially with houses on the high hillside in Seattle WA. If there is a slope in your residential area, it can cause some problems with drainage, even flood. A precise-retaining-wall installation help reduce slopes significantly and maintain the garden yard, as well as your property perfectly.

steep slopes in Seattle WA

When planning to build retaining walls, you should find out what to do first, and whether you should hire skilled workers or a geotechnical engineer to assess the area of your garden. In some steps of construction, a retaining wall project will require professional engineering to keep its shape. In case that your wall in the Seattle area is more than four feet tall, you’ll need to consider finding contractors as well as a structural engineer for grading.

Here are all the things you need to know about retaining wall construction in Seattle WA, as well as surrounding areas that will help you increase usable space and decrease some steep slopes.

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lateral pressures

You’d better know sophisticatedly all the definitions and knowledge about retaining walls so that you can take every consideration for your retaining walls project. A retaining wall is a structure designed and constructed to have the ability to resist the lateral pressures of soil, or water pressure in some cases, to keep a mass of earth rock in place. In the proper design and building retaining walls, due to the gravity, the most important thing you should notice is that the recognization to counteract the moving downwards tendency of wall material.

Besides the lateral earth pressures which even overturn the wall, the groundwater behind each wall will cause hydrostatic pressure on the wall if the drainage system could not dissipate that groundwater. That’s why you must install a drain pipe into the retaining wall system.


You have to check the local codes for requirements and check whether there are any underground utility lines before going to any steps of building the retaining walls. In Seattle WA, retaining walls whose height of over four feet will need to have a building permit. In some cases, you want to build the wall at a property line that during the construction process, for example, there’ll be several potential damages to the property and the local government will require you a new construction permit.

In case you’d like to hire a landscaper instead of DIY, make sure this address also has the permit from your local area.


The most common cause of retaining wall collapse is water. The stone wall seen below failed because of insufficient drainage behind the wall. This wall failure was caused by a combination of the earth sloping toward the wall, no run-off stone behind the wall, and no apparent weep holes or drainage outlets. The excessive pressure that built up behind the wall as a result of water resting behind the stones created this blowout owing to the height of the wall.

Keep checking the water runoff and drainage in mind during this project and ensure that the water systems from your house will not be puddled and reduce the endurance of stairs. Call 811 – DigSafe to ask about the local utility before you plan to dig anything up. Then determine whether there are any underground lines and mark the exact locations to avoid it during the process.


wall style in Seattle

A thorough retaining wall design will enhance the function of your house and add elegant value to your property in almost every area of the country, not only in Seattle. Retaining walls combined with each landscaping detail into a sloped yard provide you an opportunity to create living spaces and welcome guests come to your yard garden.

Stabilize a Steep Slope


The most obvious use of a retaining wall is to reduce steep slopes. You can use stacked bluestone as a simple way to combine both modern and vintage styles for your walls with the beige color behind them. The creativity for your landscape should run along with its function. Don’t let the slopes hinder you from designing your property. Building a retaining wall will give you the best answer for issues of soil erosion on a soil slope.

Provide Usable Space for Sloped Area

Most homeowners think that sloped areas are unusable, however, the retaining walls will carve out usable spaces. In many landscaping designs, you totally can use a retaining wall to provide adequate spaces for the entire yard and house with a walkway, a pool, sitting area, firepit area, entertaining area, etc. which will have a large impact on the soil slopes of your backyard.

provide usable space for sloped area

An experienced contractor can transform the curve land into the driveway or walkway with a planting bed along the hillside to create the patio or provide enough space for the outdoor living area, playing area, garden yard, etc. in the areas which were once a high hillside. Retaining walls make these areas smoother and provide flat spaces for outdoor landscaping with stunning function styles.

Prevent Soil Erosion

The most important function of retaining walls is to battle gravity and keep the soil, as well as water from moving downwards the hill. Because of that, when you consider providing safety for your house and garden, landscaping a retaining wall will help you against soil erosion. It holds back to earth around the foundation and eliminates the threaten of sliding soil.

prevent soil erosion


A retaining wall protects a soil dock from a neighboring lower region. Retaining walls prevent erosion and produce usable level areas. Because of their low cost, availability, and ease of installation, masonry, wood, and stone are the most preferred retaining wall materials.

Cost per square foot

Square footage, like other building materials such as pavers or roofing, is a practical method to compare the cost of several types of retaining wall materials. You may compute the total square footage of a retaining wall by multiplying its length by its height.

The height of the retaining wall plays a significant role in determining the total cost. The higher wall will become more expensive, particularly if they exceed permit and inspection restrictions.

Cost by Material Types

The material types of walls will have an impact on its price for retaining wall construction. However, as with other factors, the material of wall is not the only factor but location, season, as well as labor force. In this article, we will show you three-common materials that almost all of the homeowners want to replace their privacy fence:

  • Block Walls: with this material of walls, you can expect to pay from $15 to almost $30 per square foot for each block installed.

retaining wall blocks

  • Wood Wall: for a professional wood wall installed, the average cost to build wood retaining walls is about $19, which varies from $10 to $28 as well.

Wood retaining wall

  • Natural Stone Wall: depending on the distance between your property home and the supplier, as well as the types of stone, the total cost to construct a natural stone wall job could be $75 per square foot. However, it’s still up to several factors! And the cost can vary between $25 to $75 with $50 on average.

Natural stone wall



To build a retaining wall DIY, make sure you have these right tools. The process will be easier for you and save your time with them:

  • Round point shovel: This is useful for moving plants, excavating, and establishing a foundation.
  • Square blade shovel: It’s ideal for laying down materials like gravel or sand and grading the region.
  • Tamper: Helpful to tamp down the area.
  • Four feet level: Check to see if the work area and the rows of retaining walls are levels.
  • Drilling Hammers: To drive stakes into the ground, a mallet and a 5-pound maul may be useful.
  • Adhesive and caulking gun: If you wish to attach finishing caps or add steps, these supplementary materials will come in handy.
  • Block chisel
  • Tape measure
  • Circular saw
  • Transit level

In addition, you should prepare safety glasses and a dust mask to protect yourself from physical harm.


You should plan a list of which materials you need to buy ahead of time you go shopping. This will help you save a significant amount of money and time. This list will include:

  • Retaining wall blocks: there is a catalog of each manufacturer that you can opt for your different options of style, color, size, and pattern. Take a firsthand look and compare the prices.
  • Paver Base
  • Concrete stone
  • Concrete adhesive
  • Concrete pavers
  • Masonry
  • Gabion Walls
  • Timber

When you prepare all the tools and materials along with you, the next part will show you how to build a retaining wall DIY step by step.

Retaining wall blocks


Use the tape measure to determine the length of your wall. Then divide this number by the length of each block you plan to use for your project. In this way, you’ll probably know how many blocks you need to use per row. And to determine how many rows are in your own project, divide the length of your wall by the height of the block.

measure the length of wall


Only when your retaining wall has a strong foundation system, your project will maintain its longevity. Dig the trench where you plan to install the wall with at least 4 inches in depth and 24 inches in width. For the sloped area, you’ll want to level the trench to have space for keeping the stone blocks. For the stacked-block retaining walls, provide an area of at least 4 inches for adding the crushed rock behind the wall to keep it settle.

dig the trench


Use a hand tamper to tamp down the paver base which you added into the trench. Tamp it until it’s below the tops of the stakes about 1 inch. Then, use a garden hose and spray the paver base down to compact it into the soil.

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When you’ve already prepared a good foundation for the construction job, you can come to the most important part to get an end result of this project: build up the retaining wall structures.Take a look at building retaining walls DIY step by step here! We have already examined and provided you with an article that will help you with your landscape appearance. But remember to level the edge of each block before going to tamp it down.


Building a retaining wall for our home can be simple work, however, it is not an easy one that you can finish within a few hours with little experience. In case you want to design a retaining wall in the Seattle area but you’re not sure about what to begin, the best thing you should do is to find skilled workers in this field to help you. They have experience and the right tools for each work of this constructed project.

Search the information on the Internet and choose the location with Seattle WA. Then find which company is relevant to you the most! They will probably prepare the tools and materials for you, as well as from the wall design to the physical work.

Green Arbor Landscaping is the top-ranking company serving customers in the landscaping field in general, and the retaining wall installation field in particular. With 35-year of quality service in landscapingGreen Abor is the superior choice for all of your outdoor living needs. We can inform you that we provide a variety of services which vary from yard clean up to garden maintenance for your different choices. You can search for other clients’ comments about the Green Arbor service site which will absolutely satisfy your expectations with their experiences and enthusiasm.

To contact Green Arbor for a free quote estimate here is some information that you might need:

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