Retaining Wall-Before and After

22 Mar

Retaining walls are walls serving a function, holding back soil. There are several things inncorrect with the retaining wall and plantings in the photograph below.  They are:

  • The outline or edge of the wall is too curvy and unnatural looking
  • The top line of synthetic stone is not retaining anything
  • The base of the wall does not make for easy mowing
  • The wall needs plant material to soften its harshness, adding interest


Greensboro is a great place for retaining walls because of the varying topography. The installation of walls allow us to create interesting terraced landscapes and level ground. Retaining walls can be constructed of boulders, brick, landscaping stone or synthetic stone. More affordable retaining walls can be created with timbers or tires, cut in half. If these materials are used I would strongly recommend installing evergreen plant material to cascade and camouflage the wood and tires.

An affordable fix for the retaining wall was removing the unnecessary synthetic stones that weren’t holding anything back. This will help tremendously by breaking up the harshness keeping it more subtle. Retaining walls should not dominate the landscape and take over as the focal point of your garden. Walls should compliment your home while functioning to hold back soil creating flat ground for other areas. Several small evergreen plants were installed to soften the wall year round. The area receives several hours of sun and the plants selected can withstand the heat. Make sure you select similar plants for your wall because the intensity of heat in much greater on a hard surface (brick, stone, concrete). The plants used were:

  • Candytuft
  • Dianthus
  • Creeping Sedum
  • Creeping Phlox


We are not trying to cover the entire wall with plants, only soften and add color.


There actually needs to be a small planting bed in front of the wall for easy mowing. This is definately something to consider when designing the wall. Large equipment could damage your retaining wall everytime it passes by.


Just remember, retaining walls serve a function and not as the focal point of your Greensboro landscapes.

Happy Planting!

Diana Gardner-Williams

Landscape Design and Installation


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One response to “Retaining Wall-Before and After

  1. RaiulBaztepo

    March 28, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo


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