A Full Breakdown of How Much It Costs to Build a Retaining Wall

Normal range: $3,238 - $8,995

The cost to build a retaining wall is $5,950 on average, but it can cost between $3,238 and $8,995.

How we get this data
Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Reviewed by Tara Dudley
Updated September 28, 2022
a stone retaining wall with green grass and a fence in the background
Photo: camstockphotos / Adobe Stock

Retaining walls serve many purposes, including beautifying a garden, diverting water, and holding a foundation in place. The average cost to build a retaining wall is $115 per linear foot, but your overall retaining wall cost will depend on the height, length, style, and finish, as well as the difficulty of the terrain. You can use retaining walls to stop soil erosion, add different levels to your landscape, and assist with drainage.

See the price range for retaining walls in

your area
How we get this data
Normal range for U.S.
$3,238 - $8,995
  • Average
  • $5,950
  • Low end
  • $1,250
  • high end
  • $15,100

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Retaining Wall?

Labor and material costs, along with the width, length, and height of the wall, are all critical factors in calculating the total costs of your retaining wall. Other factors like the surrounding terrain and the project’s complexity will also play a role. 

Beyond those basics, it’s up to you to decide how many upgrades or extras you’d like to add to boost the overall appearance of your retaining wall. Contact a local retaining wall installer and ask about their selections.

3 retaining wall heights compared by costs, with 4-foot high walls ranging from $80 to $240 per linear foot


The length and height of your wall have the biggest impact on cost, and taller walls cost more per linear foot. For example, a 2-foot-tall retaining wall costs $40 to $200 per linear foot, while retaining walls up to 6 feet high cost about $360 per linear foot

The following table summarizes common retaining wall sizes and the typical costs. Note that the lower end of the cost range is for walls 2 feet high, while the higher end of the cost range is for walls 6 feet high or taller.

Length (Linear Feet)Cost Range Average Cost
10$400 – $3,600$2,000
15$600 – $5,400$3,000
20$800 – $7,200$4,000
25$1,000 – $9,000$5,000
30$1,200 – $10,800$6,000
50$2,000 – $18,000$10,000
100$4,000 – $36,000$20,000
150$6,000 – $54,000$30,000


Materials for a retaining wall cost about $5 per square foot for a budget-friendly and lightweight material like vinyl. For a 2-foot-tall vinyl retaining wall, you’ll spend about $10 per linear foot

Expect to pay around $100 per square foot for a higher-end material like steel or natural stone. For a 2-foot-tall steel retaining wall, you’ll spend up to $200 per linear foot


The terrain and soil composition in the surrounding area impact the cost of building a retaining wall. If the ground is sloped, there's substantial additional labor involved, which can increase labor costs by 50% or more. In this situation, the contractor needs to do significant extra excavation to build step-downs or to terrace the slope to accommodate a safe retaining wall. 

Additionally, if the soil is particularly unstable or rocky, extra work is necessary to dig through it and compact it well enough to hold the wall once it's built.


Where you put your retaining wall and how much reinforcement you need also affect costs. There’s a big difference in functionality between building a concrete retaining wall lakeside and adding visual interest to your landscape with a retaining wall in your front yard

LocationCost Range per Linear Foot (All-in)Average Cost per Linear Foot (All-in)
Swimming Pool$20 – $100$60
Driveway$30 – $120$75
Garden$30 – $150$90
Front Yard$30 – $200$115
Shoreline$150 – $600$375


Labor is a significant part of retaining wall costs. You’ll pay an average of $50 to $75 per hour for labor costs. The labor fees to install a retaining wall range from $15 to $50 per square foot, depending on the materials and overall complexity of the project. Interlocking retaining wall blocks or pin mechanisms are the fastest and easiest to install compared to hand-stacked limestone or I beam retaining walls.

Upgrades for Your Retaining Wall

There are plenty of ways to further enhance the look and function of your retaining wall. There are countless options, from adding flower beds for a pop of summer color or a fence for added safety to installing a raised patio and an outdoor kitchen. You could have fun with the kids and paint a mural on the wall or add landscape lighting to enjoy your yard after dark.

How Much Do Retaining Walls Cost by Type?

The concrete, stone, steel, and other materials needed for installation are some of the most expensive costs of building a retaining wall. You may have your heart set on an intricately stacked stone retaining wall you saw on a home improvement show, but you’ll need to plan your budget wisely to get the best landscape impact for your retaining wall dollars. 

The table below shows the total cost of popular retaining wall materials by square feet. If you know you want a wall that's 2 feet high, multiply the material cost per square foot by two to get the per linear foot price. Follow the same process if you want a wall that’s 4 or 6 feet high (just multiply the material cost per square foot by four or six, respectively) to get the price per linear foot.

Wall MaterialCost Range per Square Foot (All-in)Average Cost per Square Foot (All-in)
Vinyl$10 – $15$12.50
Railroad Ties (Wood)$25 – $30$27.50
Timber$15 – $30$22.50
Brick$20 – $25$22.50
Rammed Earth$20 – $25$22.50
Gabion$10 – $40$25
Stone$20 – $100$25
Concrete$30 – $50$40
I Beam$40 – $90$65
Steel$15 – $150$82.50


Vinyl retaining walls cost $10 to $15 per square foot, all in. Vinyl is functional with minimal decorative options, but it's wallet-friendly, lightweight, and compact. It's a good choice for small retaining walls that don't need to support a substantial amount of weight. 

Railroad Tie Retaining Wall

Railroad tiescost $25 to $30 per square foot. Railroad tie retaining walls were more common in older homes, and because they are soaked with toxic creosote to avoid rot, they aren’t used as often now. Your pro will let you know if railroad ties are allowed in your area.

Timber Retaining Wall

A homeowner favorite, a wooden retaining wall averages $15 to $30 per square foot. A cost-effective and readily available choice, wooden retaining walls are used for gardens to keep the overall appearance of a natural setting in a yard. If you take care of the wood with waterproofing, your retaining wall could last up to 20 years

Brick Retaining Wall

Brick retaining walls cost $20 to $25 per square foot. On your next walk around the neighborhood, look at how many neighbors use bricks to spruce up their yards. Bricks come in many colors and act as veneers on a retaining wall, meaning they’re only one-brick thick (a wythe) and fixed to the outside of poured or block concrete. If you’ve been itching to boost the curb appeal of your retaining wall, personalize the bricks with a custom color or texture.

Rammed Earth Retaining Wall

For those looking for an environment-friendly option, rammed earth walls are the byproduct of compacting earth with a binder, like cement. Rammed earth retaining walls cost $20 to $25 per square foot and offer the strength of concrete. 


For a gabion retaining wall, you'll pay between $10 and $40 per square foot. Gabions are commonly used on lakefronts and steeply sloped areas to prevent soil erosion. They're essentially rugged wire boxes filled with rocks and boulders. They're a cost-effective solution, although not a terribly attractive one. On the plus side, they require minimal maintenance, shift with the land over time, and don't need a concrete foundation.

Stone Retaining Wall

For a stone retaining wall, you'll probably spend between $20 and $100 per square foot. Granite is at the lower end of the range—priced between $20 and $45 per square foot, including labor—while limestone costs about $50 to $100 per square foot, all-in. 

Stacked stone walls are the most common and durable, with either wet (using mortar) or dry (using gravity alone) options available. If holding back tons of soil is required, wet stacking is probably the most durable option; however, dry stacking is faster, so the labor costs are lower.

Stone veneer is another option, where a thin layer of stone covers a concrete base and adds strength and decoration while helping to minimize cost.

Concrete Retaining Wall

Concrete retaining walls cost $30 to $50 per square face foot. You can choose dry-stacked or reinforced blocks, go with poured concrete, or add veneers to concrete walls to give them a bit of personality.

I Beam Retaining Wall

One of the most costly retaining wall options, I beam retaining walls cost $40 to $90 per square foot. I beam retaining walls, also called soldier pile, are created with vertical I beams concreted into holes with wood slats or precast concrete panels between the steel in the beams' grooves. Homeowners often choose I beam retaining walls to mark property lines and to prevent landscape erosion.

Steel Retaining Wall

Steel retaining walls cost between $15 and $150 per square foot. Steel sheet piling retaining walls cost $15 to $60 per square foot. Steel retaining walls support deep excavations or keep back soil next to a structure, a deep terrace, or a long drop.

The price increases from $75 to $150 per square foot if you choose Corten Steel (often referred to as weathering steel or by the brand-name COR-TEN). Since steel rusts, especially in coastal areas, homeowners like to invest in weathering steel that has a decades-long lifespan. Some installers use a sheet of Corten over a timber or concrete wall as a wallet-friendly option that still offers extra protection.

Cost to DIY Build a Retaining Wall

A red brick retaining wall lining driveway with green grass on other side
Photo: Natalie Schorr / Adobe Stock

You can build smaller retaining walls yourself and save $15 to $50 per square foot in labor costs. For example, you can save between $300 and $2,000 in labor costs for a wall that’s 20 feet long and 2 feet high. However, the cost of having the material delivered or renting a vehicle capable of carrying large quantities of heavy materials can potentially offset the savings on labor. 

And, if you need something more complex than a basic wall, such as a cantilevered wall that holds back a lot of heavy stone or soil, then it's best to hire a mason to get the job done.

Don't forget, if you're building a retaining wall over 4 feet high, you'll need to contact a structural engineer, as walls taller than 4 feet need more structural support.

FAQs About Building a Retaining Wall

Hardscape elements like retaining walls are labor-intensive and expensive. You'll likely spend between $3,230 and $8,700, but some projects reach $14,000. You should consider the return on investment for your retaining wall. They’ll easily last decades if constructed properly, depending on the materials and function. Retaining wall projects can add up to 15% to a home’s value with an average return of 100% to 200%.

"When collecting bids on retaining wall work, it is really important to get a detailed scope of the installation work and make sure the proper base and drainage is installed for a long-lasting retaining wall,” says Tara Dudley, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Plant Life Designs.

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