Examples of retaining wall designs include the step-back wall, the two-level wall, the natural-look wall and the hidden spa retaining wall. These walls are used to cut down on soil erosion, but each has a decorative twist. The step-back wall, rather than being a straight solid structure, is built in sections that "step back" from each other, such as a set of stairs put on its side. Each section may be individually landscaped or coordinated for a more cohesive look.
The two-level wall is often used in situations where the elevation between the property line and the street is on the high side. Instead of one thick, solid wall, two retaining walls are built with one lower than the other. These are often landscaped with flowers or decorative shrubs, potentially increasing a property's curb appeal.
Natural-look walls may use large boulders lined up next to each other or smaller, smoother river rocks that are stacked up to build the wall. Shrubs and other plants are used to decorate and help keep the soil from eroding. Grasses and other plants often take root in-between the rocks. This type of retaining wall is often used in areas with high water tables, which sometimes keep the soil too wet for some plants.
Using a retaining wall to hold a spa is one way to make the most of limited backyard space. The main wall keeps a check on soil erosion, while an additional wall segment is built to enclose the spa.