15 Cheap Retaining Wall Ideas You Can DIY - Backyard Boss (2023)

Retaining walls are a popular landscaping project and a wonderful solution that prevents excess movement of a slope. They stabilize the ground and soil, working against the downward forces of gravity. Made out of a wide selection of materials, retaining walls are something you can even DIY!

There are many unique and creative ways to build a retaining wall, though some styles come at a cost. Thankfully, there are also numerous affordable options that provide stability to your land while looking great!

Looking for inspiration? Take a look at these 15 cheap retaining wall ideas that you can DIY!

Table of Contents

Log Stack

Are you a fan of the rustic style? Carry that charm into your very own log retaining wall!

Using the logs of your favorite fallen trees, stack them laying down and embed them into the hillside. Fill the layers with a mixture of soil and gravel to ensure proper drainage. Additionally, utilize filter fabric at the base and back of the wall to prevent debris from entering.

Create variations in your wall by using logs of different sizes. As well, grow small plants like succulents or draping plants likeEnglish ivy for a more natural look.

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Parallel Logs

One of the more common and affordable retaining wall ideas includes laying logs parallel along the ground. For this wall, find long logs or timbers that are fairly straight.

This style is best for shorter, residential retaining walls, no higher than 4 feet (otherwise they often require additional anchors). To secure the logs and keep them in place, have a drill as well as rebar stakes handy.

Pro Tip: Due to the close proximity to the ground, pressure-treated wood is an alternative that lasts longer. This type of wood contains copper which protects it from decay and insects longer than untreated wood/logs.


Gabion is a mesh-like wire container that is filled with large rocks. The gabion containers act like cubes to create a wall wherever you like!

There are various patterns, sizes, and weaves of the gabion containers to choose from. But, if you want to DIY the entire project, create your very own gabion baskets! Use materials like galvanized mesh and wire to weave and shape them yourself.

Make your retaining wall by setting up the gabion containers and filling them with landscaping rocks. Some popular choices include broken concrete, large stones, or shale. Alternatively, opt for a stylistic filler of beach pebbles, colored rocks, or bricks laid out in a pattern.

Recycled Tires

Feeling creative? Make your retaining wall one that saves tires from going to the landfill and is artistic too!

Repurposing old or recycled tires is a sturdy and effective way to support your hillside. To make this wall lay the tires in lines, staggering each row to create a brick-like visual. Fill each with soil and gravel and stack them to the height and angle you desire.

If you are not content with bare tires, use them as planter pots instead! Add rich soil with organic matter to the centers and plant your favorite container-loving flowers inside.

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Prefer to have your retaining wall uniform and flush? Bricks are the solution!

Bricks are available in an array of colors and shades ranging from grey to red. Purchase them at a hardware or landscaping store or save some money and find someone selling leftovers locally!

When building, array your bricks in an offset layout to increase the strength of your wall. If using bricks with hollow centers, use brick ties or metal rods. Embed these into the ground to help anchor your wall into place.

Pro Tip: Once your retaining wall is complete, use the leftovers for something else! For example, create a raised garden bed made out of bricks!

Metal Sheets

Not a fan of wood or rock to create your wall? Try metal! To DIY a metal retaining wall, find metal sheets that match your required height. Metal sheets are straightforward and require less time to install than concrete walls.

If you don’t want straight sheets, corrugated metal is another option that adds texture to your landscape. Select the style and color you prefer and secure your sheets in place. Use materials like wooden stakes or concrete pillars to enhance the aesthetics and sturdiness of your wall.


Want to make a retaining wall with nature around you? For those living in rocky terrain, you might have boulders and large rocks to stack and create a wall with. Haul them, stack them, and build a structure that stands the test of time!

Note: it is illegal in most locations to take rocks and boulders from mountains, parks, and forests. If you do not have boulders on your property, purchase them from landscaping companies or local sellers online.

Leftover Wood

Are you a DIY-er who loves working with wood? Chances are your workshop is overflowing with leftover boards. Use these for your retaining wall!

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Secure boards together in the height and layout that you desire. Use a hole auger to set thicker posts deep into the earth to generate stability. Not happy with the natural color of the wood you have? Use a water-based stain to make it the color you want!

Pro Tip: Want to get into woodworking DIY projects? Take a look at these best circular saws and the best table saws for a successful experience!

Recycled Pipe

If you are comfortable working with metal, try using a unique material like recycled pipes for a retaining wall! Check your surrounding area for any scrap metal recycling centers to find old metal pipes for a great price.

Once the pipes are in your possession, metal working tools are needed to get the job done. Use or rent a welder, angle grinder, and other heavy-duty steel cutters to get your pipes the perfect size.

Poured Concrete

Concrete is not only DIY friendly, but it is also easy to attain, affordable, and efficient for retaining your yard.

To build a poured concrete wall, have formwork materials at-the-ready. This includes items such as wood, plastic, aluminum, and other building materials. Steel reinforcement is also key to ensuring the lasting integrity of your walls.

Pro Tip: Feeling adventurous? Another alternative to pouring straight slabs of concrete is to pour your own bricks. This is more time-consuming but results in identical units. Not to mention, homemade concrete bricks are more affordable than buying them from a retailer!

Railroad Ties

Though not as affordable as some pre-used or creative materials, railroad ties are cheaper than many landscaping stones and steel. They are also a straightforward solution for those without detailing and building tools.

For this DIY project, gather the railroad ties needed to meet the height and width of your area. Ensure you have stakes or pins, a drill, and soil or gravel in your possession for best results.

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Upright Logs

If you aren’t a fan of side-lying timbers or log ends, try standing logs upright!

Place tree logs of equal or varying sizes vertically, digging and securing them into the earth. If you don’t have any logs, ask around! Talk to neighbors, family, and friends to see if they recently cut down a tree and will part with the logs. Affordable, rustic, and functional!

Antique Equipment Gabion

Who says gabion containers have to be full of rock? Why not try something out of the ordinary instead? For those who appreciate the vintage look of eclectic tools and equipment, this is your chance to show them off!

Save on the cost of filling gabions with rock and fill them with antique equipment. Whatever is lying around in your property and has a vintage feel works perfectly! Some ideas include parts of machinery, pipes, or even old tools.


If stone designs are your preference, it is possible to save on cost with flagstone! Commonly used for patios, these large, flat stones of varying colors are often a lower price than retail brick and stone.

Flagstone looks wonderful and adds a rough, natural feature to your yard when stacked for a wall! Keep in mind, the price of flagstone is cheaper if you are able to do the work yourself. The cost drastically increases if you hire someone to install it for you.


When it comes to affordable retaining walls, pallets are near the top of the list. Not only are they easily attainable, most times they are free! Search local listings for those giving them away either for nothing or a small price.

Once the pallets are in your possession, get creative with your retaining wall. Fill the tops and empty spaces of the boards with flowers. Or try your hand at vertical gardening to save on space!

Retain Those Walls!

Ready to get your hands dirty and build a wall worthy of the ‘oohs and ahhs’ of your neighbors?

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Find the style that meets your preferences and get building, stacking, collecting, filling, and piling! Then, all that is left is to sit back, and enjoy the feeling of a job well done!

What is your favorite type of retaining wall and which do you find the cheapest to DIY? Comment below with your preferences and tips!


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