Are you a homeowner in Seattle looking for inspiration for landscaping ideas?

A retaining wall can be a functional and aesthetic addition to your landscape, providing structural support and visual interest. However, with so many options available, it can be challenging to decide which type of retaining wall is best for your needs. In this blog post, we’ll explore six popular options: natural stone, concrete retaining wall blocks, pressure-treated lumber, recycled concrete (Urbanite), poured concrete, and Corten steel. We’ll discuss their pros and cons, and factors that may impact your choice such as aesthetics, shape, slope, and curves.

In landscaping, often there are multiple solutions that can work to functionally accomplish a task, if that is the case for you then you can move to function and aesthetics. What appeals to you? How do you want to accent your existing landscape and your house? What works with your neighborhood?

We hope that this information will help guide in determining what retaining wall is best for you and your landscape.

Natural Stone Retaining Wall

Natural stone retaining walls are highly durable, long-lasting, and provide excellent opportunities incorporate drainage solutions. They offer a wide variety of choices that will fit just about any style of yard and garden. However, they require more skill and time to build. There is a lot of flexibility with natural stone given the huge range in sizes of stone, there can be stones that are 5 lbs or 5000 lbs. That drastically impacts the installation process and capabilities of the wall. Natural stone retaining walls also allow for plants to be integrated into the wall.

Ideal for: Homeowners looking for a classic, timeless look this is ideal for curves and slopes

Concrete Retaining Wall Blocks

Concrete blocks are versatile, strong, durable, and available in a wide variety of styles, which is why they are the most common retaining walls in the Greater Seattle area. They are ideal for creating interesting retaining walls including curves for a softer look. However, they can only be used for walls under 4 feet without proper engineering and permits. They also tend to be more expensive than natural stone, but are typically faster to install.

Ideal for: Homeowners who want a versatile and strong wall that can accommodate unique shapes and curves, although maybe not as well as natural stone.

Pressure-Treated Lumber

Pressure-treated lumber is a popular choice for retaining walls due to its resistance to rot and insects. The wood has been treated for ground contact. This can be a great options to incorpoarte with pathways and steps because they are narrower than some other retaining wall solutions. They can only be used for walls under 4 feet. Typically only used for shorter walls.

Ideal for: Homeowners who prefer a more natural look and are working with a narrower area.

Recycled Concrete (Urbanite)

Urbanite, or reclaimed, recycled concrete from the demolition of roads, buildings, and sidewalks, is a durable and eco-friendly option. It’s perfect for building the foundations of homes and other structures, giving all of that concrete a second and much more beautiful life. However, it requires extra human effort to handle.

Ideal for: Environmentally conscious homeowners who want to repurpose materials that are already onsite.

Urbanite (Broken Concrete) Retaining Wall As A Garden ...

Poured Concrete Retaining Wall

Poured concrete walls are strong, durable, and can stand up to the test of time. They offer a modern and sleek appearance and allow for many different types of structures and shapes that are very unique. However, they require professional skill and expert experience to build. They are generally very expensive and they are difficult to repair, work with somebody that is very good. One caveat is that we do see a lot of failing concrete retaining walls that are 50 plus years old. It seems poor drainage is a huge factor in longevity.

Ideal for: Homeowners seeking a modern aesthetic and have a larger budget for their project.

Corten Steel Retaining Wall

Corten steel is known for its unique aesthetics, corrosion resistance, and strength. It has a unique patina finish that adds an interesting texture to your structure’s exterior. However, it can be difficult to source because limited suppliers offer this material in various sizes and thicknesses. This is most commonly found in new construction homes built into the hillside. The modern homes tend to take up the majority of the lot and a corten steel retaining wall can be a great addition that is very functional for the space.

Ideal for: Homeowners who want a unique, modern look that are searching for a narrower solution.

Corten Retaining Walls -


When choosing a retaining wall, consider factors such as the aesthetic you want to achieve, the shape of the wall (straight, curved, etc.), the slope of your land, whether the wall needs to accommodate curves, and the drainage needs of your landscape. Each type of wall has its own strengths and weaknesses in these areas, so consider your specific needs and consult with a professional if necessary. Remember, the right retaining wall can enhance the beauty and functionality of your landscape for years to come. Learn more about our Retaining Wall Installation services!

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