Should my retaining wall be curved or straight?

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Picture of Natasha Maerz

Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager

If you are a homeowner that is looking for a retaining wall that not only functions as a means to retain the soil on your property, but want something aesthetically pleasing as well you may be wondering if your retaining wall should be curved or straight.

If you haven’t met us yet welcome, we are Back 40 Landscaping, and we are expert retaining wall builders. We know a thing or two about designing retaining walls, and have worked with hundreds of happy retaining wall customers.

There are many different factors to consider when deciding whether you want your wall to be curved or not.


The look that you prefer for your retaining wall 

Probably the thing that will have you determine whether or not your retaining wall is curved or straight the most is the look that you prefer.

Some homeowners prefer to have a little bit of a design for their wall, and like the curved look as it really does add an extra touch to the wall.


What add on’s your retaining wall has

Curves on a retaining wall can really make your wall stand out, but if you have too many add on’s at a certain point your wall is going to look too “busy”.

If your wall has lights, stairs, is multicolored, or has lots of different plants and flowers surrounding it, a straight wall may be the way to go since it looks simple and clean.  

What is going above your retaining wall

Is there a fence going above your retaining wall? What about a shed? If there is any type of “structure” going above your wall it will make more sense to have a straight wall, you do not want your fence to have to match the curve of your wall.

Likewise, if you have plants, flowers or a garden going above your wall, the look of those plants can be accentuated by having a curve in the wall.


The location of your wall

Is your wall going to be something that you look at every day from your kitchen window, or is it hidden at the back of your property?

A curved wall takes more skill and time to build then a straight wall, so labor and material costs could go up depending on how big your wall is.

If this wall is not going to be seen much it might be a better choice to go with a straight one.

Curved retaining walls are stronger than straight retaining walls

Curved retaining walls are stronger than similarly built straight walls. That’s not to say that straight walls aren’t strong enough, just know that a curved wall isn’t weaker, it’s stronger.

Knowing curved walls are stronger may not change the design, but it is a good back pocket bit of knowledge when you need to add some extra strength to a wall if your limited in access and can’t otherwise reinforce a wall.

An added bonus is when curved walls are not out of place, they look way better than a straight wall.

Unfortunately though there is significant extra work on cutting the caps and making them fit good.

A normal straight wall doesn’t require any cuts expect for the last cap, where as a curved wall may need two cuts per block. That’s about 5-10 min per cap in total to fit and place them well.

Ultimatley, the look that you the homeowner likes will be the deciding factor whether or not you want your retaining wall to be curved or straight.