Ideas for Retaining Walls and Fences


Use ideas to turn your retaining wall and fence from a utilitarian object to one with curb appeal. Instead of using just one type of material for a fence, use a combination. Instead of making a same-old-same-old retaining wall, use materials that incorporate texture and color. Raise the bar on how you design your retaining wall and fence so that your landscape design will become the talk of the neighborhood.

Retaining Wall with Built-In Planter

  • Liven up your retaining wall by embedding a planter at the top. Create an 8-inch- to 12-inch-deep trough at the top to serve as a planter. Add trailing plants such as petunias, lobelia (Lobelia erinus), nasturiums (Tropaeolum majus) and sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas). Your retaining wall will burst with color.

Graduating Height, Curved Shapes

  • Instead of making the top of the retaining wall straight and with a continuous height, graduate the wall's height. Create a stairstep design so that the wall climbs upward by decreasing the width. Add interest to the wall by using a curved shape or a semicircle. Use the shape to define and create specialty garden areas in your yard, such as an herb garden or a spring bulb garden.

Patio Retaining Wall

  • Create a retaining wall to border a patio area. Make the top of the wall wide enough to serve as a sitting ledge. For example, if the bricks or blocks that form the base of the wall are 12 inches wide, make the top 14 inches to 18 inches wide. Use flat and smooth pieces of flagstone to make seating comfortable. The extra seating space will come in handy when you are having a backyard party or barbecue.

Combination Fence and Retaining Wall

  • Build a combination fence and retaining wall to create curbside privacy. Make a short 4-foot retaining wall with prefabricated blocks, bricks or stacked stone. This type of combination is a good choice for a home with a large front yard. The wall fence can be situated where your lawn meets the sidewalk, or 6 feet or so away from the sidewalk. You will have just enough height to satisfy your need for fencing in the front of your home without eliminating your view of street and sidewalk activity.

Cornerstone Anchors for Fences

  • Create columns and cornerstones with stacked stone or brick to connect the fronts and sides of your fence. The mixture of materials and textures will make your fence distinctive. Add decorative glazed tiles at the tops of the cornerstones for a creative finishing touch. Install solar-powered lamps on the tops of the cornerstones to give your property even more curb appeal and to light the perimeter of your home's landscape at night.

Live Fence

  • Use evergreens to create a "live" fence instead of traditional materials like wood, stone, iron and vinyl. In many areas, you can get around zoning requirements for fencing height if you plant a tree. Explore fast-growing evergreens such as Thuja "Green Giant," which grows 3 to 5 feet each year and reaches 30 to 40 feet at maturity, or a Leyland cypress, which grows 3 to 4 feet in a year to 40 to 60 feet at maturity.

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