What is a retaining wall?

  • 3 minutes
  • 24 February 2022

If you have a sloping block, you may be asking, ‘what is a retaining wall and do I need one?’ Unearth whether ModularWalls retaining solutions will help solve issues of uneven ground, a steep block or help create a tiered garden.

What is a retaining wall?

As per the dictionary, a retaining wall is ‘a wall for holding in place a mass of earth or the like, as at the edge of a terrace or excavation.’ Another way to explain is to say it’s a wall that will hold back (retain) a mass of soil so that you can level your sloping block. Alternatively, you may wish to level out a specific area of your sloping block for an entertaining space or pool. Or you may want to create terraced gardens for a low maintenance yard. Ultimately, a retaining wall gives a functional purpose to your yard and a potential visual feature.

VogueWall blog Retaining what is a retaining wall front yard garden bed

Read the Case Study

When do you need a retaining wall?

Depending on the size, the wall potentially needs to withstand tons of pressure from the soil and water it holds back. As a result, the higher your wall, the more critical the wall’s structural integrity becomes. A well-constructed retaining wall will prevent soil erosion and potential soil collapse and stand the test of time.

You need a retaining solution for:

  • Levelling sloping blocks and uneven ground
  • Creating a tiered garden
  • Preventing soil erosion, soil collapse, and even flooding, especially if your home is at the base of a steep block.  


  • Council approvals – depending on wall height and how close the retaining wall will be to any boundary lines.
  • Structural engineering – depending on wall height and council requirements.
  • Determine your retaining capabilities including height and soil bearing capacity (kPa).
  • How will you excavate – by hand or machinery (how will machinery gain access to your site)
  • Do you need a building permit?

Read further tips on planning a DIY retaining wall project.

The benefits of using ModularWalls

ModularWalls retaining solutions are perfect for:

  • Standalone and integrated retaining and boundary fences. Giving a modern, seamless design and consistent aesthetic.
  • Whether DIY or professional installation, ModularWalls offers considerable cost savings over traditional retaining methods.
  • ModularWalls offers a high-quality solution backed by a 10-year warranty.

Read more on the benefits of choosing ModularWalls

 VogueWall blog Retaining what is a retaining wall Kate Sparks cascading plants

We hope this helps confirm the purpose of a retaining wall and when you might need one. Meanwhile, head to the gallery to gather inspiration from our retaining projects. Lastly, our cheat sheet below will help identify your required retaining project.