Can a Fence Be Used as a Retaining Wall

Can a Fence Be Used as a Retaining Wall

Retaining walls can be created from a variety of materials. In some cases, retaining walls can be made from recycled materials, whether this is wood or plastic. So with that in mind, can a fence be a good item to use for a retaining wall?

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘Can a fence be used as a retaining wall?’

At PPC Concrete Products, we are here to provide solutions for your construction needs,

from the person working their own part-time project, to commercial clients, and everyone in-between.

Monthly construction output had risen an estimated 1.6% value in June 2023, and we would like to think our accessible concrete products had a small part to play by giving our clients easy access to reliable and easy-to-use construction solutions.

Retaining Walls Explained

How many concrete blocks do I need?

A retaining wall is a structure designed to hold back soil and create level areas on sloping terrain.  They generally act as a vertical (or near-vertical) barrier that prevents soil from naturally collapsing or eroding.  Here’s a breakdown of their key features:

A retaining wall…

  • Retain soil at different elevations, creating usable flat spaces on slopes.
  • Prevent soil erosion on hillsides or uneven ground.
  • Support structures built on uneven terrain.
  • Enhance landscaping and create aesthetically pleasing features.

How does a retaining wall work?

Retaining walls work by resisting the lateral earth pressure of the soil behind them.  This pressure increases with the height of the wall and the density of the soil. Walls are designed to:

Withstand the overturning force

  • This is the tendency of the wall to topple forward due to soil pressure. The wall’s weight and a leaning-backwards angle help counteract this.

Prevent sliding

  • The base of the wall is designed to resist the horizontal force of the soil pushing it sideways. Friction between the wall and the foundation helps prevent this.

Is there more than one type of retaining wall?

Yes. There are various types of retaining walls, each suited for different purposes and heights:

  • Gravity walls rely on their own weight to resist soil pressure. They are typically made of concrete blocks, stones, or bricks and are ideal for shorter walls.
  • Cantilever walls are L-shaped, with a thin vertical section cantilevered out from a horizontal base (footing) buried in the ground. They are suitable for moderate heights.
  • Sheet pile walls use thin, interlocking panels of metal or concrete driven into the ground. They are often used for temporary walls or in situations with limited space.

What can retaining walls be made from?

What can retaining walls be made from?

Retaining walls can be constructed from various materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Concrete is strong, durable, and versatile but can be expensive.
  • Stone has a natural aesthetic, very durable, but requires skilled labour for construction.
  • Brick is similar to stone in aesthetics and durability, but may not be suitable for very high walls.
  • Treated wood (railway sleepers) are affordable, and have a natural look, but requires proper treatment and may have a shorter lifespan than other materials.
  • Prefabricated wall units are easy to install, come in various materials like concrete or plastic, but may have a more uniform look.

Can a fence be used as a retaining wall?

Can a fence be used as a retaining wall?

No. Re-purposing a fence to use as a retaining wall is not possible. If the fence is made with railway sleepers that are in good condition, they can be re-used. But in most other cases, your regular fence would not be a suitable material to use to create a retaining wall.

This is because regular wood used for fencing is not strong enough to hold the soil of a retaining wall back. Additionally, depending on how long the wood was used for the fence, it will affect the durability and general strength of the wood, as it can get weaker over time.

Moreover, if the wood from the fence has not been treated beforehand, the possibility of the wood being weak and rotting is more than likely. By using such untreated wood for a retaining wall, you are risking the structure of the retaining wall entirely.

Of course, fences are made from a variety of materials, and can come in an array of shapes and sizes. Any repurposing to use these fences as a retaining wall must be overseen by an expert to ensure this material will be reliable. This ensures the stability of the planned retaining wall, and the safety of everyone involved.

Is it better to use a block or a fence for a retaining wall?

Blocks would generally be the better option to use for a retaining wall. Particularly concrete blocks. Concrete blocks, especially when they are securely attached, can provide a great amount of resistance against the immense weight that the soil of a retaining wall creates.

Depending on the block you use, you may also need to purchase cement in order to bind them. Without a secure connection between blocks, the structural integrity of the retaining wall can be very poor.

That being said, there is a concrete block option available that can securely connect with each other without the need for binding materials. This is the Interlocking Concrete Block.

The best block for a retaining wall

One of the most effective resources you can use when it comes to creating a retaining wall are Interlocking Concrete Blocks. These special pre-cast blocks do not require mortar in order to create a long-lasting and effective connection.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks connect to each other via studs and recesses at the top and bottom of the blocks, respectively. Individually, concrete blocks are heavy, but once they are joined, they provide an excellent counterweight against exceedingly heavy applications like a retaining wall.

Considering the fact they do not require mortar to connect, it is safe to say you will be saving money that would otherwise be spent on binding materials, and even some labour costs. But what actually makes Interlocking Concrete Blocks special? Well, a lot of things.

Here is a list of some of the uses that Interlocking Concrete Blocks can facilitate.

  • Material Storage bays
  • Blast walls
  • Salt stores
  • Crash protection
  • Push walls
  • Security barriers
  • Segregation bays, i.e. recycling centres
  • Retaining walls
  • Industrial buildings
  • Fire breaks
  • Counterweights
  • Roadblocks

What are the advantages of interlocking concrete blocks?

  • Longer lasting and more durable than a Gabion basket
  • Quicker and less hassle to install
  • No need for mortar, saving you money and time
  • No need for steel reinforcement or shuttering
  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions
  • Fire-resistant properties, mitigating the spread of fire depending on the structure
  • Little maintenance required
  • Often, no foundation is needed before installing
  • Sound resistant
  • Sustainable
  • Ability to stack them upon each other
  • Flexibility in sizes
  • Appropriate for temporary and/or permanent buildings
  • Unlikely to be displaced due to the interlocking function

How to find the best retaining wall material

As an established supplier all over the UK, PPC Concrete Products is always happy to help, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with any questions you may have or have a look at our FAQ.

In this blog, we hope to have answered the question ‘Can a fence be used as a retaining wall?’ Whilst also providing additional information including construction solutions that we offer.

Take a read of our case studies to truly understand how we have provided solutions for business in the past with the use of our interlocking concrete blocks, and ultimately, how we can help you today.

Read our blog page for more insights into our passion, construction.


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Higginshaw Lane,




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Tel: 01706 655245


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