Retaining walls often serve a very important role of preventing soil erosion and maintaining the grade of a landscape. They often hold the land back, preventing it from sliding. Retaining walls can be as beautiful as they are functional and can be the focal point of a landscape. Many different materials can be used to blend with any design and the cost of a retaining wall can vary.

There are several factors that affect the price of a retaining wall, mainly labor and materials needed for the project.

Retaining Wall Labor Costs

Labor is a significant cost for any construction project, and that cost will vary depending on the size, scale, and complexity of the landscaping project. Labor to construct a retaining wall often ranges between $50-$60 per hour, but the amount of labor needed will need to be estimated. Consider requesting a professional retaining wall estimate to get an accurate labor cost. You may be able to complete the project yourself as well, minimizing labor costs.

Retaining Wall Material Costs

Retaining wall material can range in price from $10-$40 per square foot, with some material options including cinder block, wood, interlocking concrete block, natural stone, or poured concrete.

Cinder Block


Cinder block is a cost effective material for a retaining wall, and usually runs between $10-$15 per square foot. Cinder block is often not the most desirable choice for a retaining wall since it is not structurally designed for lateral support and to hold the land back, but may be used for short retaining walls. Cinder block can be plastered or painted to improve the cosmetic appearance. Check out our concrete block calculator to estimate how many cinder blocks you will need for your wall.

Wood Timbers

Wood retaining walls are attractive and affordable

Wood timbers are a great material for retaining walls since they are beautiful and strong. Wood timbers often cost $15-$25 per square foot. Wood walls often last many years, however they do tend to rot and degrade over time and will eventually need to be replaced.

Interlocking Concrete Block

Concrete block is very durable and designed specifically for retaining walls

Interlocking concrete blocks are beautiful and designed and structured specifically for use in retaining walls. Block walls usually cost $20-$30 per square foot, which can vary depending on the type of block used. Concrete block walls can last a lifetime when installed correctly and add beauty to almost any landscape. Estimate how many blocks you need for your retaining wall.

Natural Stone

Stone retaining walls are beautiful but materials are usually more expensive

Natural stone retaining walls are very attractive, and stones can range in size from a few inches to a several feet. Natural stone usually costs $25-$40 per square foot but usually cost a bit more than concrete blocks to install. Learn more about installing natural stone retaining walls.

Poured Concrete

Poured concrete retaining walls can be colored and stamped to look like natural stone

Poured concrete has become more popular for use in retaining walls as color and patterns have become more commonly used, making them look much better than a plain concrete wall. Poured concrete is often the most expensive choice for a wall at about $30-$40 per square foot, but is also extremely durable. When installed correctly a poured concrete wall will last a very long time with virtually no maintenance.

Other Retaining Wall Materials

People often overlook some additional materials needed to install any retaining wall. A proper wall installation often starts with a solid base, sometimes gravel, sand, or concrete. Walls also need a way to drain excess water from behind the wall, which requires gravel, backing, and drain materials. After the wall is constructed fill material will be needed for behind the wall, but often this is available on site. Consider the cost of these extra materials when estimating the cost of your wall project.

Other Cost Factors

Other factors can affect the cost of a retaining wall. Once common factor is the amount of excavation needed for the project and the material that needs to be excavated. Removing rock and boulders will be more labor intensive then removing dirt for example. The height of a wall can also affect the cost. Higher walls need to have a stronger base, more drainage, more excavation, and often require more planning and engineering. Adding steps to a wall can also add to the cost, so consider that when estimating your project. Every property is different so always consider getting professional estimates for a more accurate cost assessment of your retaining wall.

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