How Much Do Retaining Walls Cost?

retaining wall hardscape

Soil erosion can be a massive problem for a house’s foundation. The foundation needs a stable, flat space to sit on or it starts to shift and lean. When the soil erodes from under it, then it loses that stable ground. Many homes need to implement a retaining wall, often urgently. You don’t want rainy season to come and have an unprotected slope.

Today we will address the popular question:

How much do retaining walls cost? What determines a landscape wall’s price?

Building a retaining wall is a great home improvement project that can cost an average of $4,000 in the our local San Diego county service area. This pricing average varies with the location of your home (city/state/country), contractor, complication of project (slope, canyon, boulder or other obstructions) and of course the materials used for the retaining wall.

Size of the Wall

You should already have an idea of how big you want your retaining wall. If you’re not sure, get a qualified and insured local retaining wall company to provide you an estimate. We provide free estimates in San Diego, and you’ll often find this offer in many other cities. Take advantage of it. The size of the wall (height and width) are going to contribute the most to the cost of your retaining wall. The larger the wall, the more materials and labor needed.

A wall that’s 100 square feet is going to cost more than a wall that’s only 20 square feet. You’ll need more materials for the first wall and it takes more time to build.

The cost of a retaining wall is usually calculated in square feet for this reason. In the United States, the cost of a retaining wall per square foot ranges from $19 to $50. The national average for 2023 is around $25 per square foot.

The Shape of the Wall

The shape of the wall is also important. This can determine what materials you can and cannot use. A shorter wall, for example, has more leeway in what materials you can use to make it because it has less pressure behind it. A taller wall needs something sturdier to support the weight of the soil behind it.

So two different walls that are both 100 square feet won’t necessarily cost the same. If the wall is twenty feet by five feet, then you’ll need stronger material to build it. On the other hand, a fifty feet long and two feet tall wall can use less sturdy materials without worrying about its structure.

Then you also have to consider if you’re making a straight wall, a curved, or even an angled wall. These are more complex shapes and add to the labor when the wall is being built. Labor costs for retaining walls usually range from $50 to $75 per hour.


Of course, once you’ve decided on the size and shape of your wall, then you need to decide what it will be made of. There are a lot of different materials you can use, and each is either wood, stone, or metal.


Any wood that you use for building a retaining wall should be sturdy and pressure-treated. This helps prevent it from rotting and growing mold right outside of your home.

Wood tends not to be as strong, so it’s better for shorter walls that don’t need to hold back as much soil. Many people will use these retaining walls for flower beds and raised gardens

Pressure-treated wood is always more expensive than wood that hasn’t been. Different woods also have different costs. A wood retaining wall typically costs anywhere between $10 to $40 per square foot depending on the type of wood you want to use.

The good news is that the right kind of timber can last about forty years once it’s installed. Even if you’re not still in your home at that time, the new owners will appreciate the addition to the yard. They’ll want to maintain it when it’s time to replace the timber.


Stone or concrete walls are popular for their strength and stability. They’re stronger than wood, so they can support more height. These walls can be made out of natural stone, concrete, or brick.

These walls are more functional and are often used for taller projects. Some houses have a large drop on one side, so these walls prevent the soil from eroding from under the foundation whenever it rains. Cities use them to keep cliffs and hills from causing mudslides and structural damage to homes.

Not to mention that natural stone and brick both look so much nicer if you need a taller wall.

A concrete wall can cost anywhere between $15 and $55 per square foot. If it’s poured concrete instead of block, then it might cost between $20 and $45.

Brick walls cost anywhere between $30 to $60 per square foot. Natural stone costs between $10 to $85 per square foot depending on the type of stone you’re using. 


Finally, metal is possibly the strongest material you can get to build a wall out of. These are mostly used to build tall walls since they aren’t as interesting to look at and can hold a lot more soil behind them.

A house will want this if they have a huge dropoff in their yard. Otherwise, that soil will eventually erode in the rain and the dropoff will get closer and closer to the house. You want to make sure that the soil near your foundation will stay where it is no matter how much rain you get.

A metal wall takes care of this for you, so you never need to worry about foundation issues. However, a stronger wall also means higher costs for building it. Depending on the type of metal you’re using, they can cost between $15 and $150 per square foot. 

How Much Do Retaining Walls Cost?

So how much do retaining walls cost? It depends on many factors mentioned above. Each home and yard is different, so be sure to do your research and hire a professional when the time comes.

No matter what material or how big you want yours to be, you need a retaining wall contractor that you can trust. That’s why you should depend on us at Designs for You. We’re experts on all kinds of construction projects such as retaining walls.

Contact us today and see how we can help you build your retaining wall.

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