50 Garden and Backyard Retaining Wall Ideas and Terraced Gardens (Photos)

Our collection of backyard retaining wall ideas and terraced gardens. The retaining walls include wood, rock, stone, brick, gabion, and concrete block walls.

Luxuriously landscaped terrace garden.
Welcome to our photo gallery featuring a selection of the most luxurious and beautiful terrace gardens with retaining walls we could find! We hope you can glean a retaining wall idea or two from the list we’ve provided below. If you do, let us know!

The use of terrace gardens dates back millennia to ancient times. Terrace gardens are still a beautiful but much less widely seen luxury in the present day. Terrace gardens also fulfilled a practical purpose in the past and still do in the present; in hilly or steep areas, they were a means of growing more crops to feed a local population. Terrace gardens also help ensure more uniform watering across crops and gardens, where a steep slope cannot and does not.

Contemporary terrace gardens and retaining walls tend to be much smaller and more modest in the majority of residential landscaping designs. While some retaining or garden walls are masonry works, others are simply composed of stacked stones or concrete steps. We’ve listed the ten common retaining wall materials here.

The majority of the terraces and retaining walls you’ll find included in this collection can be found in nearly any suburban neighborhood. Many contemporary terrace gardens are also located in urban areas. Many of these urban terrace gardens use extensive container gardening to create small gardens in places where a lack of traditional planting beds is an issue.

The terraced garden made from different levels of stone walls in the photo above the text is located in an expansive garden. The terraced garden in the photo is complete with a small pond and waterfall, and small evergreen bushes that line the larger terraces. The natural stone wall was made from cobblestone.

We hope you’ll enjoy this unique collection and perhaps find inspiration for your own terraced garden or wall landscape!

Find more backyard ideas in our article on the definitive guide to backyards!

Related: Different Types of Sheds | Backyard Hot Tub Ideas | Backyard Pergola Ideas | Retaining Wall Alternatives | Lattice Fence Ideas | Gabion Wall Ideas | Fence Designs

Wood retaining wall ideas

Gorgeous wood brick retaining walls with a stacked concept accented by lovely green plants. Its layered design with a cohesive look makes it pleasing to the eyes.Here we see gorgeous wood brick retaining walls that use a stacked concept. This timber wall is accented by lovely green plants that sit atop it. The layered design of this garden retaining wall, with its cohesive look, makes it pleasing to the eye.

A wood retaining wall that's topped with charming ornamental plants which make a good accent as well.Here is a wood retaining wall that is topped with charming ornamental plants. These plants make an excellent and enchanting accent to the wood retaining wall landscape.

An expansive soil ground is lined with a wood paneled retaining wall that goes on a higher level as you got closer.Here we see a wide soil plot of land that’s divided by a timber retaining wall. The timber wall’s levels grow higher and higher as the wall grows closer.

A paneled retaining wall on a courtyard wrapping the lush green yard that's filled with abundant plants and trees.In this photo we see a wood paneled retaining wall surrounding a grassy courtyard. This wood retaining wall wraps around a lush green yard that is filled to the brim with verdant plants and trees.

Stone and rock retaining wall ideas

Thin slate stones stacked create a natural-looking, simple barrier between the landscaping and the grass.

Here, thin slate stones have been stacked create a natural-looking, simple, and beautiful barrier between the landscaping and the grass lawn below it.

A more country, rustic retaining wall by the side of a paved pathway, creating a terrace up the large hillside. Moss grows on the old stones, marking this wall as well aged.

Here we present a more country or rustic retaining wall that is running  along the side of a paved driveway. This stone wall creates a terrace from the large hillside. Moss grows on the old stones, marking this stone wall as aged and weathered.

A hand-laid retaining wall made out of natural stone. Two terraces are filled with low maintenance landscaping. The terraces smooth out angle between the much higher house and the lawn.

We see a hand-laid retaining wall made out of natural stone in this photo. The two natural stone terraces are filled with low-maintenance plants and landscaping. These stone terraces smooth out the angles between the much higher house and the soft, lush green lawn below it.

A series of layered stone terraces between the highest and lowest levels of a split-level home. A ramp is overhead.

 In this photo, we can see a series of layered garden retaining walls between the highest and lowest levels of a split-level home. There is a ramp overhead, as well. Source: Zillow DigsTM

A new garden with several garden tiers and new growth. The stone retaining walls will keep the arrangements separate.

Here, a brand new garden is completed with several garden tiers and new plant growth. The stone retaining garden walls that make up the terraces will help keep the arrangements separate from one another.

A residential terrace garden along a winding stone path along the side of the home.

We see a residential stone retaining wall running along a winding stone path along the side of the home in the photo above.

A look at the above terrace garden and path from the rear of the home.

Here we can look at a terrace garden with stone retaining walls and a nearby stone path from the rear of a home.

Stone retaining walls running beside a packed dirt road.

Here, stone retaining walls run alongside a paved road.

A series of retaining walls surrounding a waterfall that runs into a small creek down the hill.

In this photo, a series of stone walls surround a waterfall that runs into a small creek down a hill.

Unique rock retaining wall by the sidewalk composed of various shapes and sizes creating an interesting look. It is topped with evergreen plants which give life to the wall.Here we can see a unique rock retaining wall by a sidewalk. This rock wall is composed of rocks of various shapes and sizes, which adds visual interest to the overall look of the retaining wall. The wall is topped with evergreen plants, which give a sense of life to the wall.

Layered stone brick retaining walls on a green lush slope accented by lovely ornamental plants and accompanied with a green chair by the third level.Here, we see layered stone brick retaining walls above a green lush slope. The layered stone retaining wall is accented by lovely ornamental plants, and a green chair adorns the area near the third level of the terrace garden.

Sophisticated stone retaining wall with serene pine trees on the backdrop along with a stone pathway and matching steps in the middle leading out to a concrete bench.In this photo, there is a sophisticated stone retaining wall complete with serene pine trees in its backdrop. A stone pathway and matching steps in the middle lead up to a concrete bench.

This stone retaining wall is fitted with a concrete staircase that leads to a flagstone flooring topped with rustic chairs.This stone retaining wall is fitted with a concrete staircase that leads to an area with flagstone flooring. The rustic wood chairs complete the look.

Natural stone retaining walls surround the majestic garden filled with lovely blossoming plants that crawl throughout. Here, natural stone retaining walls surround a majestic garden that is filled with lovely, colorful blossoming plants crawling throughout it.

This home features stone retaining walls that form as planters on a stacked layout. Captivating flowers add character to the area.This home features stone retaining walls that end in planters on a stacked wall layout. Captivating flowers add character and a softness to the area.

Cobblestone/Brick retaining wall ideas

A contemporary home with terraced landscaping on either side of the stone stairs that lead up to the front door. The light colored stones are stacked neatly around the planting beds, making the hillside less dramatic.

This contemporary home has terraced landscaping on either side of the stone stairs that lead up to the home’s front door. The light colored stones are stacked neatly around the planting beds, making the hillside less dramatic.

A stone retaining wall that snakes around either side of a paved pathway. Ornamental trees, flowers, and draping vines fill in and around the sides of the two terraces.

This stone retaining wall snakes around either side of a paved driveway. Ornamental trees, flowers, and draping vines fill the area in and around the sides of both stone terraces.

Stacked landscaping stones are an easy and great way to keep grass out of your planting bed and add curb appeal to your landscaping. Any borders you create will stay in place.

Stacked cinder block landscaping stones are an easy and excellent method for keeping grass out of planting beds. These block walls also add curb appeal to landscaping. Any borders created with concrete blocks will remain in place.

The stones used to create these terraces and retaining walls are speckled with small holes that give them the appearance of a kitchen sponge.

The bricks used to create these terraces and retaining walls are speckled with small holes. These small holes give the bricks the appearance of a kitchen sponge.

A series of light stone retaining walls that help keep the sand dunes from eroding away and also provide a sturdy place for larger evergreens to grow.

A series of light stone retaining walls that help keep the sand dunes of the landscape from eroding away. They also provide a sturdy place for larger evergreens to grow.

Lush landscaping with a small birdbath, looking glass, and uniformly stacked stones. A small set of stairs leads up to a pathway on the top terrace.

Here we see lush landscaping complete with a small birdbath, looking glass, and uniformly stacked stones. A small set of stairs leads up to a pathway on the top of the brick terrace.

A retaining wall next to a stone courtyard in alternating red and gray stone.

In this photo, a brick retaining wall rises next to a stone courtyard using alternating red and gray stone.

A simple terrace garden with ornamental grasses and bushes.

Here we see a simple terrace garden with ornamental grasses and bushes atop the stone retaining wall.

A simple, curved retaining wall that forms a circular planter full of petunias.

In this photo, a simple, curved retaining wall forms a circular planter. The owners chose to fill the stone retaining wall planter with bright petunias.

A retaining wall of light stacked stone that is uniform in color and size. The ground above the stones is covered in a thick groundcover.

A retaining wall of light colored stacked stone that is uniform in both their color and size. The ground above the stones is covered in a thick groundcover.

A simple retaining wall that creates a raised gardening plot filled with petunias, black-eyed susans, and other members of the daisy family.

Here we see a simple retaining wall that creates a raised gardening plot filled with petunias, black-eyed Susans, and other members of the daisy family.

A retaining perimeter wall around the wooden backyard patio. The top tier runs into the surrounding woods.

In this photo we see a brick retaining perimeter wall surrounding the wooden backyard patio. The top tier of the terrace continues into the surrounding woods.

Terraces of multiple heights surround this pool complex, creating a private oasis.

Here terraces of varying heights surround the swimming pool. Retaining walls and terraced gardens are an ideal method to create your own private oasis.

Beautifully fashioned retaining walls, each with a different plant in large groups.

Here we see three beautifully fashioned terraces, each planted a different plant in large gathered groups.

A brick retaining wall snakes on the lush green lawn with drainage on the side. Ornamental flowers and green plants peek out from the gray wall.In this photo, the concrete block retaining wall snakes along the lush green lawn. It has drainage on its side. Ornamental flowers and green plants peek out from below and above the gray wall.

Serpentine retaining wall wraps around the traditional house clad in blue paneled walls and lined with manicured bushes.Here, a serpentine retaining wall landscape wraps around the area surrounding a traditional ranch house with blue vinyl siding. The house and landscaping are lined with beautifully manicured bushes and shrubs, as well.

Gorgeous brick retaining wall situated beside the curved pathway sports a two-tone color and is filled with lush green plants.Here, a gorgeous brick retaining wall is situated beside a curved pathway that sports a two-tone color. This retaining wall is overflowing with lush green plants.

A beige two-story house is framed with brick retaining walls accented by plants and manicured shrubs.Here, a beige two-story house is framed by brick retaining walls. The retaining walls are accented by plants and manicured shrubs.

Multi-tiered brick retaining walls showcases a stunning 3d design and matching staircase on the side. Its unified gray color makes the green plants stand out.In this photo, multi-tiered brick retaining walls showcase a stunning design. There’s even a matching staircase along the side of the terraces. The terraces’ unified gray color make the green plants stand out even more.

This house boasts natural brick retaining walls wrapping around the gorgeous tree and plants.This house boasts natural brick retaining walls that wrap around a gorgeous tree and lush plants.

Concrete retaining wall ideas

A series of small concrete terraces create steps along this hillside. Soft, plush grasses make this spot perfect for sitting.

A series of small concrete terraces create steps along this hillside. The soft, plush grasses make this spot perfect for sitting and relaxing.

Sleek concrete retaining walls with a striking layout doubles as a seating area. Fresh, smooth grasses complete the look and provide a serene vibe.Here, sleek concrete retaining walls with a striking and unique layout double as seating areas. The fresh, smooth grasses complete the clean and modern look and provide an overall serene vibe.

Gabion retaining wall ideas

See our entire gabion wall and fence article/gallery here.

Gabion retaining walls framed with wire mesh showcases a concrete staircase in the middle.Here we see gabion retaining walls that are framed with wire mesh, which showcases the concrete staircase in the center of the gabion wall.

Lovely white rock gabion retaining wall wraps around the plants forming a steady and sturdy planter.This lovely white rock gabion retaining wall wraps around plants, forming a steady and sturdy planter for the plants inside it.

This garden features a round rock gabion planter filled with green plants and solar lights illuminating the area at night. This garden features a round rock gabion wall planter that is filled with green plants and solar lights that illuminate the area at night.

A closeup look at the gabion retaining wall fitted with a chrome lamp and topped by luscious green plants.This is a close look at a gabion retaining wall that is fitted with a chrome lamp and topped by luscious green plants.

A curved gabion retaining wall on a concrete courtyard lined with garden plants.Here, a curved gabion retaining wall atop a concrete tiled courtyard is lined with garden plants.

Towering gabion retaining walls serving as a fence around the house. Its vibrant yellow color blends well with the green plants.These towering gabion retaining walls serve as a fence around a house. The vibrant yellow color of the gabion wall blends well with the green plants and their yellow flowers.

Layered gabion retaining wall beside the staircase filled with pebbles and various plants.In this photo, the layered gabion retaining wall beside the poured concrete staircase is filled with large pebbles. The terraces are topped with various plants and shrubs.

Multi-tiered gabion retaining walls in two-tone color accompanied by alternating manicured plants which create a stunning fence on the backyard.Here, multi-tiered gabion retaining walls that use two-toned rocks are accompanied by alternating well manicured plants. This creates a stunning fence for a backyard, or even a front yard!

A simple terrace created with wooden blocks, chicken wire, and large stones for a rustic look. The landscaping is simple and low maintenance.

In this photo, the simple terrace was created using wooden blocks, chicken wire, and large stones for an overall rustic look. The landscaping is simple and low maintenance. Source: Zillow DigsTM

How to make a DIY retaining wall

First, find the elevation contour of the area where the retaining wall is desired. If there is a change in elevation in the land, the water can roll off and away from the soil and plants on the terrace. A retaining wall must be built along the contour line, so that rainwater that falls on the terrace will remain in place, slowly sinking into the terrace. One can locate elevation contours using a tool called an A-frame level.

Next, drive stakes every two to six feet along the contour line. On steeper slopes, the stakes should be closer together than stakes on gentler slopes. Stakes can be made from waste wood, or they can be purchase from a local home improvement store.Wooden deck balusters can also be used as stakes.

To prevent weeds from growing on the new terrace, lay cardboard where the terrace will be the way shingles on a roof are laid, beginning at the bottom and working up from there, with overlapping pieces.

The next step is to lay materials like logs, tree limbs, and brush uphill of the stakes. These materials act as a dam for the terrace, to help keep rainwater from draining from the terrace quickly. Dig a slight ditch for the logs, limbs, and brush, to help get some of the pressure they exert off the stakes. The best logs and tree limbs to use are six to eight inches in diameter. It’s best to stack the logs, limbs, and brush so that they are slightly above level, because over time (due to gravity), the terrace will settle.

Next, pack materials such as twigs, leaves, and more brush between the logs. These materials act as a filter and also hold the soil in place. Then, add the soil atop the cardboard. It will settle in time, so more soil will need to be added in the future.

It’s important to observe what happens with the new terraces after a few hard, heavy rains. Once happy with the stability of the terrace, feel free to plant perennial plants and flowers in it!

Garden Wall Ideas

So, what is the difference between a garden wall and a retaining wall? Aren’t the two terms interchangeable?

The difference between a garden wall and a retaining wall lies in the purpose of the wall. Retaining walls hold back earth, essentially creating a staircase-like structure out of a natural slope or hill, especially a steep slope or hill. Retaining walls can present a stunning look and can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but their basic and most important function is to hold back earth. Thus, the retaining wall design is dictated by the naturally occurring slope or hill that is present on a property.

Garden walls are purely aesthetic, for decoration or separation only. These walls are not built for strength or to hold back earth. They are typically used to designate different types of gardens or one garden bed from another. Garden wall design is not dictated by a natural slope or hill, but is decided by the landscaper or gardener.

A short retaining wall that creates dedicated planting beds easily distinguishable from the grass lawn.

Here, a short retaining wall made of layered blocks creates dedicated planting beds that are easily distinguishable from the grass lawn below them.

A charming garden bed filled with gorgeous plants that are lined with decorative rock retaining wall.This charming garden bed is filled with gorgeous plants that line the decorative rock retaining wall.

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