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Types of Retaining Walls

Besser Block Retaining Walls
Besser® Blocks are a popular choice for soil retaining walls or when a wall is required to level sloped land. Besser® Block retaining walls are mortared together, installed on a concrete footing and often used for engineered and load bearing walls where the blocks will be core-filled with grout and reinforced with steel. Due to the basic aesthetic appearance of the standard grey Besser® blocks, they will often be used only in applications where the wall will not be visible, or finished with render and paint on top of the Besser block. Retaining wall bricks are used in a similar way using a traditional brick unit which is mortared together to create a wall.

Segmental Retaining Wall Blocks
These retaining wall blocks are one of the best DIY retaining wall  systems you can buy. Segmental retaining walls “stack” together without the need for mortar, concrete or glue. These systems are installed onto a compacted road base levelling pad which is significantly easier to install than a concrete footing. Segmental concrete wall blocks come in a range of colours including black and cream, and there are different block face textures available including the traditional split face block.

These concrete retaining wall blocks come in different shapes and sizes, they can either be vertical (they stack directly on top of each other) or setback (they “lean back” each course the wall gets higher). The different types of retaining wall block systems can be built to varying heights. Some setback retaining wall blocks like Windsor Stone can be built to over 1 metre in height without reinforcement. Segmental walls connect using either a rear-lip connection or for premium systems like Adbri’s Versawall®, they interlock and stack together like children’s blocks.

Concrete Sleeper Retaining Walls
Concrete sleepers are a popular choice for low height, pure vertical garden walls. Sleeper walls have a small footprint meaning they can be installed in areas where space is tight. Concrete sleeper retaining walls are superior to timber sleepers because they are very durable and won’t rot. While concrete sleeper walls are effective for retaining soil, they can be difficult to install as the posts need to be as deep into the ground as the wall is high. Manually digging deep post holes and setting posts in concrete to be plumb can be difficult for most DIYer’s.

Retaining Wall Ideas
You’ve come to the right place for retaining wall ideas for backyard landscaping. Along with our expert and technical advice, Adbri’s retaining wall ideas gallery is a great starting point for inspiration for your retaining wall project. All of the ideas shown in these pictures can be created with Adbri retaining wall blocks.

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Retaining Wall Applications

Retaining wall blocks can be used for many landscaping applications from levelling sloped land and retaining soil through to edging and creating veggie gardens. Some of the most popular uses of retaining wall blocks includes;

Soil Retaining Walls
The most common use for retaining wall blocks is to retail soil and hold up ground that would otherwise move downhill. These types of walls prevent soil erosion by providing stabilisation, which helps to keep the soil in place. Retaining wall blocks made from concrete are excellent for this application because they are very hard wearing and when installed correctly, leave very little room for the problem soil to move.

Level Sloping Land
Land is more valuable than ever before but in many areas, homes are built on sloping blocks and often, this land can become steep and unusable, wasted space in the yard. Retaining walls are an effective solution for levelling sloped land, creating a flat area which can be better utilised by the family.

Landscape Design & Garden Walls
In many instances retaining walls are a “forced” purchase, required to fix a soil or sloping land problem but retaining walls can also be used as a feature in landscape design. Retaining walls can be used to provide a distinct level change in the garden which can be used as an excellent feature. You can also build curved retaining walls as well as straight walls and event retaining walls with steps. For gardeners, a built up garden wall is excellent for planting as it allows you to bring in new, premium soils as opposed to digging into the ground. This makes maintenance easier by having the garden higher. When done correctly, retaining walls with caps (like Versawall®) can actually double as informal seating walls, extending your yards capacity to entertain and host family and friends.

Veggie Patches & Planter Boxes
Concrete retaining wall blocks can also be used to create DIY planter boxes and veggie gardens. Blocks with specialty corner units are great for building square and rectangle planter boxes which can be filled with soil and planted out with trees, or even veggies and herbs for home grown goodness!

How to build retaining walls

Retaining walls up to 800mm in height are great DIY projects. Walls over this height, or any retaining wall that requires reinforcement, engineering or that need to go to council for a Development Approval should be referred to a professional retaining wall contractor. Retaining walls that have a structural purpose (holding back soil) possess a risk of failure and in these instances, a professional trades person may be best suited to build your retaining wall.

Step-by-step DIY instructions for building low height retaining walls.

Retaining Wall FAQs
  • What is a segmental retaining wall?

    A segmental retaining wall is a wall made of concrete blocks, designed to support soil. They provide a method of transitioning the land from one level to another, maximising the space and use of the area.

  • How high can retaining walls be?

    The height a retaining wall can be built to depends on the block used and how it is put together. All of our retaining wall blocks have a maximum unreinforced height, which is the highest you can build yourself without engineered reinforcement.

  • How do I build a retaining wall?

    Retaining walls are a great DIY project and can be completed over the course of a weekend. Refer to this step by step How to Build Retaining Walls Guide for more information.

  • What is the easiest retaining wall to build?

    For do-it-yourselfers, the easiest retaining walls to build are ones using concrete masonry blocks that are stacked no taller than 600mm.

  • What type of retaining wall is best?

    Concrete and masonry retaining walls have the best stability and durability. We have a range of concrete masonry retaining wall blocks that can be engineered with concrete core fill or No-Fines-Concrete.

  • Do you need Council permission to build a retaining wall?

    Local Council rules can differ throughout Australia. While most Councils allow you to build retaining walls up to 900mm without building approval, we recommend checking with your local Council to be sure.

  • Can you build retaining walls higher than the maximum unreinforced height listed?

    Some retaining wall blocks are able to be built over the specified maximum un-reinforced height, however, it is crucial that a certified engineer is used to design and assist in building these retaining walls.

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NT General Requests

Adbri Masonry products are not available in WA & NT. A limited range of Brighton Masonry products are sold available through Bunnings Warehouse.

For general WA & NT requests, please complete the form below.


Adbri Masonry products are not available in WA & NT. A limited range of Brighton Masonry products are sold available through Bunnings Warehouse.

For general WA & NT requests, please complete the form below.


Adbri Masonry products are manufactured and sold in Australia.
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Adbri Masonry products are not available in NT.
A limited range of Brighton Masonry products are sold available through Bunnings Warehouse.
For general NT requests

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