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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Landscaping & Gardening > Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall Cost


How Much Does a Retaining Wall Cost?

 
low costLow: Concrete May Run $750-$1,500 for an Average-Sized Wallaverage costMedium: Wood May Run $1,000-$1,300 for an Average-Sized Wallhigh costHigh: Stone May Run $1,250-$2,000 for an Average-Sized Wall
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Retaining walls are typically built to create a flat area on a sloped parcel or to control erosion by holding back soil, but they can also be an attractive addition, adding colors and textures to the landscape. The most common materials for building retaining walls are wood, interlocking blocks, stone or poured concrete. Costs will vary depending on materials used and the circumstances -- the ease of access to the site, the slope, the height and width of the wall, soil conditions and similar factors.

Typical costs:

  • The most recently developed material for building a retaining wall is pre-cast interlocking concrete stone blocks (also called modular or segmental units) which lock together without using mortar. Materials and labor run anywhere from $15-$30 or more a square face foot, or around $750-$1,500 for a wall 30 inches high by 20 feet long (50 square face feet). The more expensive blocks are stronger and will stack higher. Do-it-yourself materials cost about $10-$15 a square face foot. ThisOldHouse.com provides a video[1] showing how to build a block wall, calling the project "challenging" and estimating it will take two people 8-10 hours for a low wall 10-16 feet long.
  • Material and labor for a wood retaining wall runs approximately $20-$25 a square face foot (and there's usually a minimum charge for small projects), which would be about $1,000-$1,300 for a 50-square-face-foot wall. Plain lumber is vulnerable to termites and will rot quickly, so a wooden retaining wall is usually made of redwood, pressure-treated fir or used rail ties. Better Homes & Gardens provides do-it-yourself instructions for building a retaining wall of railroad ties or large timbers[2] or pressure-treated wood[3] .
  • Materials and installation for a stone retaining wall start around $25-$40 a square face foot and go up depending on materials, site conditions, and other factors. It costs $1,250-$2,000 or more for a wall 30 inches high and 20 feet long. Building a stone wall is as much art as it is science, and because it's hard to estimate exactly how much actual labor will be needed most contractors work on an hourly basis rather than for a flat fee -- so the total cost may fluctuate considerably, depending on circumstances. The Building Stone Institute explains how to build a stone retaining wall without mortar and ThisOldHouse.com describes the process for building a stone retaining wall with mortar[4] .
  • Poured concrete costs about $30-$40 or more a square foot (usually with a minimum charge for small jobs), or about $1,500-$2,000 for a wall 30 inches high and 20 feet long. ConcreteNetwork.com provides an overview[5] of the various types of poured concrete walls, while Better Homes & Gardens gives basic instructions[6] for pouring your own concrete retaining wall.
Related articles: Deck, Landscape Design, Garden Service, Patio

What should be included:
  • There are a wide range of materials to choose from, Better Homes & Gardens offers an overview[7] of the various types.
  • Regardless of the materials used, a retaining wall requires three key things -- a good base; good compact backfill (the material filled in behind the wall once it's completed); and good drainage throughout the entire wall.
  • Since any water trapped behind the wall is extremely heavy, all retaining walls should be backfilled with coarse gravel that drains quickly. Depending on the type and size of the wall, professional installation can take a few weeks to a month or more -- and a do-it-yourself retaining wall project usually requires a great deal of digging and heavy lifting.
  • Check with your local planning department -- many building codes require a permit for a retaining wall, and may have a height limit on a do-it-yourself wall project.
Additional costs:
  • Hiring an engineer to help design a retaining wall can run about $200-$500 or more, depending on the complexity and extent of the project. Hiring an engineer is strongly recommended for walls over 3 feet high.
Shopping for a retaining wall:
  • Manufacturers of interlocking block systems include Allan Block[8] , Geostone[9] and Versa-Lok[10] ; they provide links to local dealers.
  • Search for a state or regional association[11] of the American Nursery and Landscape Association for referrals to garden centers and landscape firms in your area.
  • Get several estimates, and ask for (and verify) references. Check if there are any complaints with the Better Business Bureau[12] . The written contract should include a detailed outline of the work required and materials used, dates within which the project will be done, and a payment schedule.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Retaining wall on hill
Amount: $1,350.00 total
Posted by: AlanN in buford, GA.Posted: April 19th, 2015 06:04AM
Contractor: Myself
Installed a 2 ft retaining wall on 35 degree hill in back yard to keep it from washing out. Put down 2-3 inch layer of crushed stone for base and leveled with sand. Used by interlocking precast cement stones from home depot. Took me and wife about 30 hours to complete.
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concrete block wall
Amount: $18,500.00 total
Posted by: Jack H in Highlands, NC.Posted: June 24th, 2013 07:06AM
Material: concrete and metal reabarLength in Feet: 156
Contractor: Daniel "Boone" Houston
Took about 2 weeks to complete. Removed all of the railroad tie retaining wall that was slowly collapsing and removed some large rocks. Dug up the old driveway, added a ditch, and 2 grates with 8" piping. Put in 2 ft concrete footings, topped with cynder blocks that were reinforced with a ton of metal rebarb, then filled with concrete, and stucco was added to wall. Widened the driveway 6 ft and surfaced with gravel. First quote I got was 30k but I came across a great guy that was slow at the time so I think I got a great deal especially since I live in a high end resort community.
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Interlocking blocks retaining wall
Amount: $2,650.00 total
Posted by: Mband in Los Angeles, CA.Posted: January 28th, 2011 03:01PM
Material: interlocking blocksLength in Feet: 23
Contractor: The Ultimate Handyman
This was a high incline hill, they installed this just before my fence to stop falling debris from damaging the fence.
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Retaining wall built in the water
Amount: $25,000.00 total
Posted by: Ed francis in Clearwater, FL.Posted: January 17th, 2011 01:01AM
Material: Segmented stoneLength in Feet: 115
Contractor: Sound renovations
Backyard was falling into the water. The wall is level with the top of the lawn at 5'. Engineer specified 104 tons of gravel backfill. A decorative stone cap was glued to the top. Irrigation and new sod were installed to finish the project. The backyard can now be used for enjoying the florida weather!
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Retaining wall
Amount: $6,600.00 total
Posted by: momof4 in Redlands, CA.Posted: August 27th, 2010 01:08PM
Material: Grey CinderblockLength in Feet: 150
Contractor: S&S
We had a 9' hill retained with a 40" tall retaining wall. The price includes permits, footing and removing several trees, one very large one and hauling of dirt and debris.
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Deteriorating wall
Amount: $0.00 total
Posted by: Jim Turchi in Duluth, MN.Posted: May 15th, 2010 09:05PM
Material: Concrete(rough front)Length in Feet: 80
Contractor: ?
About 15 years ago an 80' x 3' concrete block wall was built. Now the blocks are breaking apart and I am unable to find replacements for these blocks. They measure 14" across the back, 18" across the front are 4" high and 10" deep. The front has a very rough texture. To build an entire wall would be difficult as the driveway was just paved and getting the old blocks out would be very, very difficult and unless the new blocks were the same size as the old, there would be gaps between the driveway and wall. Any suggestions on where I can get
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Block wall
Amount: $2,600.00 total
Posted by: Derrick in Savannah, GA.Posted: December 10th, 2009 01:12PM
Material: Blocks verticle rebar footing alot of coLength in Feet: 85 ft.
Contractor: D&D
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retaining wall cost
Amount: $9,000.00 total
Posted by: anonymous001 in San Diego, CA.Posted: December 23rd, 2008 02:12PM
Material: block and groutLength in Feet: 90
Built 90 feet length 4 ft high block retaining wall with grout and footings - a lot of concrete and rebar . Paid $6,000 for the wall itself, including drain pipe , plus about $3000 to dig a trench, remove extra dirt from the site, place gravel and backfill. Bids ranged from $3,500 to $21,000 (not including dirt work) Chosen fully licensed and insured one for $6,000 (wall and footings)
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External Resources:
  1.  www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,1632351,00.html
  2.  www.bhg.com/home-improvement/outdoor/retaining-walls/timber-retaining-wall/
  3.  www.bhg.com/home-improvement/outdoor/retaining-walls/wood-retaining-wall/
  4.  www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,203319,00.html#
  5.  www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/poured_concrete_retaining_walls/
  6.  www.bhg.com/home-improvement/outdoor/retaining-walls/concrete-retaining-wall/
  7.  www.bhg.com/home-improvement/outdoor/retaining-walls/selecting-wall-materials/
  8.  www.allanblock.com/retaining-walls/landscape-walls.aspx
  9.  geostone.com/Landscape_Page.htm
  10.  www.versa-lok.com/homeowner
  11.  www.anla.org/index.cfm?area=&page=Content&categoryID=35
  12.  search.bbb.org/
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