Can You Use Pavers To Build A Retaining Wall?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Retaining walls serve a variety of purposes, including reducing soil erosion, transforming steep slopes into terraced backdrops, and establishing focal points in the landscape. They are some of the most prevalent methods for solving problems caused by mountainous terrain! So, whether you are a garden enthusiast or someone who wants to transform an unworkable incline into usable space, this blog is for you!

Although there are several materials you can use to build retaining walls, pavers are becoming a popular choice due to the variety of design options and overall simplicity of installation. Retaining wall pavers come in a wide range of colors, styles, and sizes. You can also utilize the same concrete pavers and paver colors for different projects throughout your yard, ensuring that everything coordinates.

However, when constructing the wall, you must properly plan and carry out the construction, or you risk having a wall that crumbles and collapses after a year or so. While we've provided some basic instructions for installing retaining wall systems below, it's still best to leave this work to a professional, specifically for high walls or barriers near sensitive areas. Read on to find out more about paver retaining walls!

Beautiful landscaped back yard with outdoor patio furniture and ornamental gardens, Can You Use Pavers To Build A Retaining Wall?

Paver Retaining Wall Options and Designs

Retaining wall systems are very simple to install because they are mostly just paving blocks or stones that need to be put together. Natural stones, bricks, and concrete pavers are the three types of materials accessible. Each brick serves a unique role and will be easier to install than utilizing mortar to keep things together.

Determine the height of the wall first when constructing your paver retaining wall, since this will have an impact on the design and materials needed. Fabric may be required to manage water drainage and other aspects of the installation.

Tan retaining wall

Meanwhile, a variety of considerations may come into play when building a very tall retaining wall. This includes soil stability, water content, slope, and so on. Consultation with a contractor or paver manufacturer is a good idea. Furthermore, walls are frequently subject to specific local norms and restrictions. So, it is also important to double-check all of your local area's restrictions. It's always best to be safe than sorry.

Like other paving stone installations, there are several layouts and patterns to try in setting retaining wall pavers. Also, installations will be based on your preferences, the motif of your property, and any other paver constructions nearby.

Some of the layouts you could try are random or mosaic layouts. Both of these layouts use pavement stones of various sizes, giving off a handcrafted appearance. The running bond pattern and coursed pattern are also other options.

Common Types of Retaining Walls

A seat wall with pillars and natural stone coping helps define a tumbled paver driveway and is a beautiful landscaping

Retaining wall structures come in several shapes and sizes, and they serve a variety of purposes. In constructing the right type of retaining wall, you need to address some issues concerning the matter.

  • Is the soil, sand, or clay?
  • Is there a driveway or anything more substantial, such as a pool, visible over the wall?
  • What is the measurement of the wall's height?

The type of retaining wall you need highly depends on all of these criteria.

Gravity Retaining Wall

To resist lateral ground pressure, a gravity retaining wall relies exclusively on its own weight. In fact, gravity retaining walls are usually large because they need a lot of weight to counteract soil pressure. So, when designing this type of retaining wall structure, you need to consider sliding, overturning, and bearing forces.

Also, you can opt for a concrete, stone, or masonry unit to build this wall type. In setting up this wall type, it is cost-effective for its height to be up to 9.84 feet (3 meters). Some of the other types of gravity retaining walls include cribs, gabions, and bins.

Crib Retaining Wall

Crib retaining walls is another form of gravity wall type. They are made up of interlocking individual boxes made of wood or pre-cast concrete that fit together. In setting up this retaining wall type, coarse granular materials, such as crushed stones filled the box to create a free-draining structure.

The crib retaining wall is suitable for supporting planting areas, but not for supporting slopes or structures. Reinforced precast and timber retaining walls are the most common types of crib retaining walls.

Cantilever Retaining Wall

The cantilever retaining wall is the most common type of retaining wall - composed of stem and base slabs. Also, it is constructed from reinforced concrete, precast concrete, or prestressed concrete. There are two portions of the base slab beneath the backfill material - the heel, and the toe.

Also, this wall type requires a smaller quantity of concrete when compared to the gravity wall. However, similar to gravity walls, it also considers sliding, overturning, and bearing pressure during its design. In this type of wall, it is economical to set it up to a maximum height of 32.81 feet (10 meters).

Steps in Building a Paver Retaining Wall

Stone Pavers for backyard patio pond hardscape with garden landscaping tools gloves level rubber mallet sand gravel tamper

  1. Take measurements for the future wall's length and height, including the foundation. To find the area in square inches, multiply the numbers together. On the front side of the pavers, measure the height and width. Place one concrete paver at the beginning and the other at the end of the wall.
  2. Dig up a six-inch-deep hole along with the wall's markings. It should be leveled and compacted using crushed stones and mud.
  3. Cover the foundation trench with a three-inch layer of crushed stones.
  4. Compress the foundation by laying larger stones on top of it. When laying the pavers over the stone layer, they should be half their thickness in the trench.
  5. Check the level of one paver stone in the trench at the end. To make it sit properly, tap it with a rubber mallet.
  6. Place the second paver stone in the trench next to the first. Repeat the process with the remaining stones in the first layer, verifying the level of all pavers along the way.
  7. Using mud, fill the spaces between the laid pavers and the trench edge.
  8. Fill up the gaps with the adhesive on the initial layer of the pavers' surface. Over the top of the first row, lay the second layer of concrete pavers. The joints between the pavers should be spaced and not overlapped.
  9. Build the wall up to the desired height by laying down rows of pavers. To provide further strength to the wall, there should be a crisscross bead of bricks with adhesive on top of each layer of pavers.
  10. To fill the joints, use the adhesive to seal the top of the wall as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Building a Retaining Wall

How Much Do Retaining Pavers Cost?

Wooden cubes form the word 'cost' near miniature house

The cost of your retaining wall will vary depending on a variety of factors. Obviously, the cost will vary depending on the size of the wall, but most basic and normal walls will cost in the low to mid-four figures. This is for supplies and labor.

Natural stone retaining walls can cost anywhere from $25 to $75 per square foot, depending on the type of stone, as well as the distance from the property to the supplier. Natural stone retaining walls normally cost $50 per square foot on average.

Does a 2-foot retaining wall need drainage?

Every retaining wall should have drainage installed behind it. Although it is a good idea to install drainage pipes on all walls, there are some instances where a perforated drain pipe is required. Several important components make up a drainage system: drainage stone, perforated pipe, filter fabric, and outlets through the wall.

Keep in mind that segmental block walls should never have grout between the blocks. Water should also be able to drain between the blocks. However, grout fills in these gaps, preventing water from draining through the face. To keep the blocks from shifting, proper segmental retaining wall blocks contain a lip or pins.

What is the cheapest material in building a retaining wall?

Retaining wall under construction

Poured concrete retaining walls are the most affordable option. Poured concrete costs $4.30 per square foot, interlocking concrete blocks cost $5.65 per square foot, pressure-treated pine costs $6.15 per square foot, and stone costs around $11.


Remember that the main goal of constructing a retaining wall is to prevent loose soil from eroding and causing property damage or bodily injury. As a result, you need to ensure that the retaining walls are solid and composed of long-lasting materials to ensure that they last for decades.

Enjoyed this article? Check out these other two below.

Can You Use Stone Dust Between Pavers?

Does Polymeric Sand Prevent Weeds? [Plus Helpful Tips To Stop Weed Growth In Pavers!]