How To Build A Retaining Wall On A Hill

If you have a sloping landscape, building a retaining wall can be a great way to create flat spaces for gardens, patios, and other outdoor living areas. A retaining wall can also prevent soil erosion and keep your property safe from landslides. In this article, we’ll show you how to build a retaining wall on a hill.

1. Determine the Height and Length of Your Wall

Before you start building, you need to determine the height and length of your retaining wall. This will help you calculate the amount of materials you need. You can use a measuring tape and level to get accurate measurements.

2. Choose Your Materials

There are many materials you can use to build a retaining wall, including concrete blocks, bricks, natural stone, and timber. Each material has its pros and cons, so choose the one that best fits your budget and design preferences.

3. Prepare the Site

Clear the area where you want to build the retaining wall. Remove any rocks, debris, or vegetation. Make sure the ground is level and compacted. You can use a plate compactor or a hand tamper to do this.

4. Lay the Foundation

The foundation of your retaining wall is crucial for its stability. Dig a trench that is wider than the base of your wall and about 6 inches deep. Fill the trench with gravel and compact it with a plate compactor.

5. Build the First Course

Lay the first course of your retaining wall on top of the foundation. Make sure it is level and straight. You can use a level and a rubber mallet to adjust the blocks or stones.

6. Continue Building

Continue building your retaining wall by adding more courses. Make sure each course is level and properly aligned. Use a string line to ensure that your wall is straight.

7. Cut the Blocks or Stones

If you need to cut blocks or stones to fit the shape of your wall, use a saw or chisel. Wear safety goggles and gloves when cutting.

8. Add Drainage

To prevent water from building up behind your retaining wall, add drainage behind the wall. You can use a perforated drain pipe or gravel. Make sure the drainage system slopes away from your property.

9. Backfill the Wall

Backfill the wall with soil, making sure to compact it as you go. Add soil in layers and use a plate compactor to compact each layer.

10. Finish the Wall

Once you have reached the desired height of your retaining wall, finish the top with capstones or coping stones. This will give your wall a finished look and prevent water from seeping into the wall.


Q: Do I Need a Permit to Build a Retaining Wall?

A: The regulations for building a retaining wall vary by location. Check with your local building department to see if you need a permit.

Q: How Deep Should the Foundation Be?

A: The foundation of your retaining wall should be at least one-third the height of the wall.

Q: Can I Build a Retaining Wall Myself?

A: Building a retaining wall can be a DIY project, but it requires some skill and knowledge. If you are not comfortable with building a retaining wall, hire a professional.

Q: How Long Does it Take to Build a Retaining Wall?

A: The time it takes to build a retaining wall depends on the size and complexity of the project. A small wall can be built in a weekend, while a larger wall may take several weeks.


Building a retaining wall on a hill can be a challenging but rewarding project. With the right materials and techniques, you can create a functional and attractive wall that will last for years. Remember to follow safety guidelines and check with your local building department before starting your project. Good luck!