What Kind of Retaining Wall Should I Use

Retaining walls are structural barriers that prevent soil from shifting between two separate elevations. Depending on the size of the project and the slope of the surrounding area, any number of technologies can be used. However, soldier pile and lagging retaining walls are some of the easiest to erect (click here to learn why). Because of their cost-effectiveness, they’re the solution of choice for excavations and other temporary projects.

Why Retaining Walls Are Becoming More Common

Retaining walls have been used for millennia, across a broad range of applications. Farmers were some of the earliest adopters (think of stepped rice fields in the mountains). The technology is also widely used during road construction in steep regions.

However, retaining walls have become increasingly common in home construction whenever aggressive landscaping is required to prevent soil from shifting. This is especially true in the Carolinas where foundation failure and slope erosion are so frequent.

Soldier Piles and Other Retaining Wall Varieties

Soldier pile and lagging retaining walls are the most popular slope stabilization approach. However, there are many other solutions, each with slightly different anchoring and stabilization techniques.

Which solution to choose ultimately depends on the size and scope of the project. Though in most cases, property owners will explore solutions in one of the following categories:

  • Concrete
  • Cantilever
  • Counterfort
  • Anchored
  • Sheet Piling
  • Gravity

Before Erecting, Repairing or Replacing a Retaining Wall

We’ve compiled an extensive list of do’s and don’ts concerning retaining walls. Whether you need a new barrier installed — or want to repair an existing one that is showing signs of stress — we strongly recommend looking over these best practices.

Some of the most important tips include:

  • How to interpret the early warning signs of retaining wall failure. The sooner you spot these signs, the cheaper it is to repair any damage.
  • The most common mistakes people make when repairing walls. Never — under any circumstances — should you remove damaged portions.


Arguably the most important tip of all involves avoiding DIY repair jobs. In order to reduce the risk of personal injury or property damage, the calibration and balance must be precise. These are critical processes that require:

  • Detailed soil studies
  • Gravity vector calculations
  • Structural load analyses


One must also have highly specialized equipment and materials to complete the job. A poorly constructed retaining wall is arguably more dangerous than having no barrier at all. The former often results in a false sense of security that can lead to more extensive damage down the road.

This is why you should always contract a licensed professional for all aspects of retaining wall design, construction and repair.

However, not all specialists are created equally.

How to Choose the Right Contractor for the Job

Geotechnical issues and slope stabilization are highly location-dependent specialties. Thus, you should always select a contractor who has extensive experience with local soil conditions.

It’s also important that whomever you hire is licensed to operate within your region. Retaining wall repair is an invasive procedure that often requires local permits and approvals.

In the Carolinas, demand for retaining walls continues to rise — especially as the frequency and severity of landslides become worse, and there is no shortage of “certified” specialists who are happy to offer their expertise.

However, if you choose to use our retaining wall services, you’ll benefit from a team of contractors who:

  • Understand the unique soil challenges specific to this region

Let Us Manage Your Foundation Project