The best materials for retaining walls are concrete sleeper, poured concrete, concrete block, timber, stone, brick, and gabion. These are the most commonly used materials today. Each one has its own pros and cons when using them.

For this blog, we’ll share details on what you can expect from the most popular retaining wall materials so you can make an educated decision moving forward.

Type of MaterialAdvantagesDisadvantagesAesthetic Longevity
Concrete Sleeper Capable of lasting 50+ yearsCan look bland and uninterestingConcrete sleepers allow greenery in garden beds to stand out. Also commonly used for commercial projectsConcrete sleepers together with galvanised steel H beams allow concrete sleeper retaining walls to last for a long time
Poured Concrete More durable than concrete blocksRequires professional help to installPoured concrete is smooth and sleek, making it ideal for modern landscapesThe concrete needs to be formed perfectly to minimise chances of bulging or waving
Concrete Block Offers various design possibilities, including curved wallsDifficult to alter after being installedGreat for use with homes that use mid century architectureConcrete block retaining walls have no footing, which could affect their stability
Timber Material is readily availableTimber is prone to rotting, warping, and hollowing over timeTimber retaining walls can easily blend with almost any landscapeTimber can last around 10 years if installed properly
Stone Makes for a solid material for retaining wallsWater flow can be difficult to controlStone retaining walls are great for English, colonial, and country-style gardensTo prevent retaining wall failure, homeowners need to ensure water doesn’t accumulate on the inside of their wall
Brick Quite a solid and durable materialCan be labour-intensiveIdeal for traditional landscapesBrick is extremely durable when installed correctly
Gabion Doesn’t require any particular skill or masonry experience to install these retaining walls for constructionThe wires used can rust under certain conditionsMatches riverside and coastal homes wellGabion retaining walls can move with the soil

How Do I Choose the Right Retaining Wall Material?

To choose the right retaining wall material, consider the following:

Know How High You Can Build

Your desired height for a retaining wall may influence your choice of material. It’s best to consult a professional if you decide to build a retaining wall over 1 metre in height.

What is the Style You Are Trying to Achieve?

You want to choose a retaining wall material that best fits your outdoor space. For instance, concrete is great for modern homes, while brick is ideal for more traditional yards.

Consider Water Drainage

Not all retaining wall materials can handle water equally. It’s best to choose a material, such as concrete, that can withstand excess moisture, especially during the wet season.