Retaining Wall

A retaining wall is a structure designed and constructed to resist the lateral pressure of the soil when the desired ground elevation exceeds the angle of repose of the soil and these walls are used to support the soil laterally so that it can maintain different levels on both sides.

Here we will learn about retaining wall, types of retaining walls & their application.

Introduction to Retaining Wall:

A retaining wall is a structure that holds or retains soil behind it.

There are various materials used to construct retaining walls such as concrete blocks, concrete, treated lumber, rocks or boulders.

The material held or supported by a retaining wall is known as a backfill, its top surface may be horizontal or inclined.

The position of the backfill above the horizontal plane at the wall top is called surcharge and its inclination to the horizontal is called surcharge angle.

Function of retaining wall:

  • This wall prevents the soil or other material at places with sudden elevation changes.
  • Earth retaining structures are used to hold back the earth and maintain the difference in the ground surface height.
  • Retaining structures are designed to withstand the grounds or backfill, other externally exerted loads transmit these forces safely to a foundation.

Types of Retaining Walls:

1. Gravity Retaining Wall:

These walls depends only on their self-weight to withstand lateral earth pressure.

Typically, these retaining walls is essential for the massive gravitational load required to counter soil pressure.

Such walls are constructed with various materials such as concrete, stone, and masonry, it is economical for elevations up to 3 m.

Crib, gabion wall and bin retaining walls are additionally a type of gravity retaining walls.

Gravity Retaining Wall

2. Cradle Retaining Walls:

These walls are the type of gravity wall, constructed from a particular person’s interlocking packing containers, which might be made from wooden or precast concrete.

Then, filled with crushed stone or other coarse granular material to sort the free-drain structure.

The primary types of walls include strengthened precast and wooden retaining walls.

They are constructed to support the plains, while they are not recommended for supporting slopes or structures.

 Cradle Retaining Walls

3. Gabion Retaining Wall:

These walls are multi-orbital, rectangular wire mesh packing containers filled with rocks or different suitable materials.

It is used for the development of erosion management structures & to stabilize the steep slopes.

Gabion Retaining Wall

4. Cantilever Retaining Wall:

These walls are made up of stem or base slabs, constructed with reinforced concrete, precast concrete, or prestressed concrete.

These walls are built either on-site or precast offsite, it is economical up to 10 meters in height.

The bottom slab portion under the backfill materials is known as the heel, and the opposite part is called the toe.

It requires a small amount of concrete compared to the gravity wall, however its design and construction are carefully performed.

Similar to the gravity wall, sliding, reversing, and bearing pressures will be considered during its configuration.


5. Counterfort retaining wall:

These walls are counter fort behind the wall slab and the base slab are reinforced with monolithic.

The counter-fort wall is equal or slightly more significant than half the counter-fort height.

The height of the counter-fort wall is 8–12 m.


6. Anchored Retaining Wall:

These walls is adopted when the house is constrained or thin retaining walls are required.

An anchored retaining walls are appropriate for loose soil on rocks.

Deep cable rods or wiring routes are provided sideways into the deep earth, then the ends are filled with concrete to give anchors.

Anchors (tiebacks) work towards eliminating pressure and slipping.


7. Pile Retaining Wall:

They are made by mixing the reinforced concrete piles adjoining one another.

They are forced to a suitable depth to withstand pressure used in temporary and permanent works.

The pile provides extreme rigidity to the parts of the retaining walls, which can place lateral pressure at tremendous digging depth with almost no disturbance to the surrounding structure or properties.

Sheet pile walls are constructed using metal sheets to the required extent in slope or excavation, however, they can’t stand up to very excessive pressures.

Maintaining the sheet pile economically to a height of 6 meters.


8. Mechanically Stable Earth (MSE) Retaining Wall:

This wall is most economical hence they are mostly constructed.

It is supported by unique fills (granulated) and held together by reinforcement, which can be steel strips and plastic mesh.


9.Hybrid Retaining walls:

These walls are used in both masses and supports the stability known as hybrid or composite retaining walls.

Advantages of Retaining Wall:

Protective structure:

Retaining walls are used to counteract the forces of gravity to protect the structure.

In other words, they are used to hold the soil.

Functional production:

Retaining walls serve as a functional product to prevent sinkholes from destroying your landscape structure.

They are used to stabilize the sloping landscapes and provides level surfaces on slopes.

Best run-off solution:

If your property is not prevented from infiltrating, then rainwater runoff can completely damage your land.

This can protect your landscape design, also prevent floods from inflowing the area.

Reduce maintenance:

Retaining walls can protect your landscape design and help you in the long run.

As a protective feature it reduces maintenance and prevents erosion.

Decorative feature:

Retaining walls additionally give your landscape an aesthetically pleasing design.

Also read:  Partition Wall, Cavity Wall & Curtain Wall

Disadvantages of retaining wall:

Vertical cracks:

Some retaining walls develop vertical cracks in poured concrete due to extreme pressure or extensive changes in temperature.

Failing Foundation:

Some retaining walls are not able to sustain high pressure from the soil such as the brick walls, often resulting in brick breakage or foundation failure.


Retaining walls can attract termites to your property when the wood is used as a retaining wall.

Application of Retaining wall:

  1. Construction of basement below ground level in buildings.
  2. In the bridge, work consists of the wing walls and abutment.
  3. To maintain slopes in hilly areas.
  4. As side walls of bridge approach roads.
  5. Providing lateral support to the embankment.
Also read: Load Bearing Wall, Masonry Wall & CMU Walls


A retaining wall stabilizes the soil and protects the buildings from overturning and slipping, it also helps to save construction costs.

Hello, I'm Rahul Patil founder of, I had studied B.E. Civil. This blog provides authentic information regarding civil structures, equipment, materials, tests & much more.

2 thoughts on “Retaining Wall”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that a retaining wall can lower the amount of maintenance that you have to do on your landscape.

  2. It sure was nice that you said that retaining walls could provide your landscape with a design that is aesthetically pleasing. My husband and I want to improve the overall appearance of our garden in order to increase its curb appeal. Also, we want it to look the best possible way since it has been our go-to place to relax. We will be sure to speak with a retaining wall contractor this Friday.


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