The most popular retaining walls are designed of timber, interlocking concrete blocks or stones, bricks or cinder blocks mortared together. Interlocking concrete blocks are available in many styles and easily assembled without mortar. Walls designed with stones tend to have a rustic look, while bricks lend a more formal look. Combining uncut, natural rocks with cut retaining wall stones creates a visually interesting design. Cinder block walls typically require stucco or plantings to cover the blocks and complete the design.
Concrete walls covered with a masonry veneer or poured in special forms with decorative designs are also popular. Concrete walls, if designed well, properly drained and back-filled, are usually fail-safe. Another creative option for concrete retaining walls is the embedding of pieces of broken glass or ceramics in the concrete to create a mosaic.
Wooden retaining walls can be designed to look like fences. All wooden or timbered fences need to be constructed of pressured wood that has a ground contact rating. Weed-barrier fabric placed behind the wood boards or timbers prevent roots from growing through the boards or between the timbers.
All retaining wall designs require proper attention to use of landscape fabric, drainage and backfill during installation in order to ensure durability and performance.