Landscaping Calgary

What are the Best Retaining Wall Materials?

Welcome to Project Landscape’s in-depth guide on retaining wall materials! Whether you’re a homeowner in Calgary looking to enhance your landscape or a contractor seeking the best options for your next project, this blog will provide you with all the information you need to make the best choice.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is a Retaining Wall?
  3. Choosing the Best Retaining Wall Material
  4. Segmental Retaining Wall Blocks
  5. Natural Stone
  6. Concrete
  7. Brick
  8. FAQ About Retaining Walls
  9. Conclusion


In the world of landscaping, retaining walls are both a necessity and an opportunity. They provide crucial support for soil and landscaping, but they also offer a chance to enhance aesthetic appeal. With various materials available, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. We’re here to help guide you through the process.

What is a Retaining Wall?

Definition and Function: A retaining wall is a robust structure designed to hold back soil and prevent erosion. It’s particularly crucial in landscapes with slopes or hills, where it helps stabilize land and prevent soil from sliding or collapsing.

Applications: These walls are not just functional; they also offer aesthetic benefits. They can be used to create terraced gardens, enhance landscaping features, and even increase usable space on sloped land.

Choosing the Best Retaining Wall Material

When it comes to selecting the right material for your retaining wall, consider these key factors:

  • Durability: The material must be strong enough to withstand the weight of the soil and resist local weather conditions, including Calgary’s harsh winters.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Choose a material that complements the style of your home and garden. The right choice can significantly enhance your property’s appearance.
  • Cost: Budget plays a crucial role. Weigh the initial investment against long-term maintenance costs to make a cost-effective decision.

Segmental Retaining Wall Blocks

Overview: Segmental blocks are precast concrete units that lock together without the use of mortar.

  • Advantages:
    • Versatility in design and color.
    • Relatively easy installation.
    • Good durability, particularly in freeze-thaw cycles common in Calgary.
  • Installation Considerations: Proper installation is key to prevent shifting or collapsing, especially in areas with significant ground movement.

Natural Stone

Overview: Natural stone, like granite, limestone, or sandstone, offers an elegant and timeless look.

  • Benefits:
    • Unique and natural appearance.
    • Exceptional durability and strength.
  • Challenges:
    • Higher cost due to materials and labor-intensive installation.
    • Requires skilled craftsmanship for a proper build.


Overview: Poured concrete is a common choice for its adaptability and strength.

  • Pros:
    • Can be molded into various shapes and designs.
    • High strength and longevity.
  • Cons:
    • Risk of cracking if not properly reinforced.
    • Requires precise installation to ensure structural integrity.


Overview: Brick retaining walls offer a classic and traditional aesthetic.

  • Advantages:
    • Timeless appeal with various laying patterns.
    • Excellent durability when maintained properly.
  • Limitations:
    • Requires a strong foundation and efficient drainage.
    • Not as strong as some other materials, making it less suitable for very high walls.

FAQ About Retaining Walls

Q: How long do retaining walls typically last? A: Depending on the material and construction quality, retaining walls can last from 20 to over 60 years. Regular maintenance can extend their lifespan.

Q: Are permits required for building retaining walls in Calgary? A: Yes, in many cases. The need for a permit depends on the wall’s height and location. Always check local building codes and regulations.

Q: Can retaining walls be used for more than just preventing soil erosion? A: Absolutely. While their primary function is to stabilize soil, retaining walls can also be used to create aesthetic garden features, seating areas, and more.


Selecting the best material for your retaining wall in Calgary involves balancing functionality, aesthetic appeal, and budget. Each material has its unique benefits and considerations. By understanding your specific needs and the characteristics of each option, you can make an informed decision that enhances your property’s value and beauty.

If you need assistance or professional services in building a retaining wall, Project Landscape in Calgary is here to help. Our team of experts will guide you through every step, ensuring a successful and satisfying outcome for your landscaping project.

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