4 Retaining Wall Ideas That Will Transform Your Bozeman, MT Yard

Written By: Andrew Blanchford

Feb 27, 2023 9:16:08 AM

The naturally hilly terrain of Bozeman, MT means that many properties can benefit from retaining walls for their landscape. It’s not unusual for backyards in our region to have slopes, hills, and even full-blown cliffs.

The good news is that retaining walls are not only a functional addition but an aesthetic one as well. In addition to helping control erosion, adding a retaining wall to your property can have the added benefit of adding wow factor and appeal.

We’ve rounded up some ideas for retaining walls that you might want to consider.

Backyard Retaining Wall Ideas

Retaining walls obviously serve the functional purpose of holding back erosion on a slope. If you are trying to level out an area of your yard or make your landscape more usable, you might need a retaining wall to make that possible.

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But as we mentioned above, a retaining wall can also be an attractive addition that enhances the look of the space. 

Here are some ideas for retaining walls that might work for your property.

#1: Be Sure to Use Natural Stone for a Blended Look

One of the best ways to ensure that your new retaining wall is going to blend with the rest of your landscape is by using natural stone. Otherwise, a block or concrete wall could really stand out like a sore thumb on your property.

We often use boulders and rock slabs to build natural-looking retaining walls that look as though they were always meant to be there.

natural stone wall with plantingsIn fact, it’s not uncommon for a boulder wall to become a showpiece of the property. 

Even though it is serving a valuable functional purpose, a boulder wall also looks great and becomes a stand-out feature that can help make your Bozeman, MT property look unique.

#2: Create a Retaining Wall That Can Serve Other Purposes

If you are adding a retaining wall near a patio, it might have the opportunity to do double duty. It will hold back erosion, but it can also help give people more places to sit down in your outdoor area. 

retaining wall with steps and patio areaIf you ever require overflow seating in your patio space, a retaining wall can provide this in an attractive and useful way.

A retaining wall also creates a sort of “ledge” around a patio or other hardscape areas where you might add a container garden or other design elements. A retaining wall ledge might also become a place where you set down food or drinks while entertaining guests.

#3: Combine Terracing and Retaining Walls for the Landscape 

As far as retaining wall ideas for sloped backyards, terracing is a really great solution. This is a highly attractive way of dealing with a heavily sloped property that might not have felt like it had many possibilities.

To terrace a slope, a series of retaining walls are built into the hillside and each area is leveled off. This creates a sort of “step down” effect, with several individual gardens and lots of opportunities to install plants (where it otherwise might not have been possible to achieve this).

steps with retaining wall patio and plantings

Terraced plant beds with multiple levels of plantings can create a lot of visual interest. The walls “break up” and soften the slope and the flowers add gorgeous color. We might do terracing with meadow plantings or perennial gardens, all of which are much more diverse and creative than one big hillside of groundcover.

With these various “mini gardens,” you can get really creative and enhance the look of your Bozeman, MT landscape.

retaining wall with plantings and steps and statueBut it’s not just about aesthetics. In addition to being beautiful, terracing and retaining walls do an important job of also helping to prevent erosion by shortening the long slopes into a series of “step-like” areas. This will help eliminate runoff (which can cause you a lot of hassles and headaches).

In terms of functionality, this is important as one of the biggest challenges that landscape slopes present is erosion. That means the solution must often be both aesthetically appealing as well as functionally meaningful.

#4: Combine Steps and Retaining Walls

Steps and stairs that are built into slopes add a tremendous amount of functionality to what might have previously been unusable space. Once you install a retaining wall to hold back erosion, you might also want to incorporate some steps so that you can get up and down those areas of your property. 

In fact, we’ve also used sloped properties to create various areas or “rooms” throughout the space (with steps leading to these different landing areas). 

stone steps with plantings and retaining wallFor instance, you might have a main patio area but then a few steps down the slope will lead you to a cozy fire pit spot. This is one of the reasons why we say that a sloped property is an “opportunity.” 

Rather than thinking of your sloped property as being a challenge, we really do see it as a chance to create something truly special and unique. The key is to use solutions like retaining walls in an attractive and functional way.

When adding steps, be sure to use natural stone materials like rock slabs so that they blend with the space. Steps should not look like an awkward addition to your space. With the right materials, they can blend just as well as your retaining walls do.

Choosing a Landscaper Who Has Ideas for Retaining Walls (And Who Can Execute Them Properly)

It’s important that you choose the right landscape design and build company for this type of work. 

Properties with slopes do present some challenges that need to be addressed…and retaining walls can be somewhat complex to build. There are essential site considerations, such as the direction and orientation of the slope, that must be taken into account during the design process in order to get the best possible results.

The last thing that you want is to add a retaining wall that ultimately fails. Even some landscaping “pros” can get in over their heads with a heavily sloped property if they aren’t skilled at building retaining walls. 

You also don’t want to end up with a boring finished product because your landscaper had no creative ideas for retaining walls and other slope solutions. 

In the end, your wise choice in landscaping companies will help provide you with coveted peace of mind that you’re getting the best possible finished project. 

Are you ready to get the process of designing your sloped landscape in Bozeman or Big Sky, MT? Let’s connect and talk about your project. Then, we can meet and begin talking about ideas! We can’t wait for you to be able to enjoy your amazing space.

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Topics: Hardscaping

Posted by Andrew Blanchford

Andy grew up in southeast Pennsylvania. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree from Pennsylvania State University in Landscape Contracting. He is a Certified Plant Professional and is the only Certified Landscape Industry Manager in Montana. When not at work he has fun with his family. He also enjoys travel, trail running, skiing, and the great Montana outdoors.