What can I use to make a retaining wall?

How to Avoid Retaining Walls Failing

If a retaining wall fails, it can fall, or suffer damages that can affect the immediate environment and has the capacity to cause serious injury to any bystanders. A properly constructed retaining wall will very rarely fail. So how do you get it right the first time?

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘How to avoid retaining walls from falling?’

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 by an 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.

What does a good retaining wall look like?

Even though retaining walls can come in all sorts of sizes, and for many kinds of applications, a good retaining wall is easily identifiable, regardless of what is used to build them. Below are the simple signs that tell you whether a retaining wall is legitimate or not.

  • The retaining wall is vertically straight, it is not leaning at all.
  • There are no bulges in the retaining wall.
  • The retaining wall has a visible drainage system.
  • There are no puddles at the top of the retaining wall.
  • The retaining wall has a consistent height, there are no dips, unless this is a purposeful design implementation.
  • There are no holes within the retaining wall aside from drainage.

Do all retaining walls look the same?

No. Retaining walls are built in specification to the area surrounding it. This means some retaining walls may be less than a 1-foot-high, whereas others may be taller than you!

Additionally, retaining walls can be built with different materials such as bricks, wood or metal, and the shape of the wall itself may not be a straight line, it all depends on the choices of the recipient of the wall.

What’s more is that retaining walls have the capacity to be decorated after they are installed, which means that they can be made to have a completely unique look, even if they are made with the same materials.

What isn’t allowed on retaining walls?

Generally, anything that can affect the effectiveness of the retaining walls is not recommended to use within its construction. This can include things such as…

  • Using inadequate binding materials (this issue can vary depending on what you use for your wall).
  • Using weak, damaged, or subpar materials to create the wall. For example, bricks or wood that has already been used and is not strong as it once was.
  • Anything that can compromise the drainage of the retaining wall.
  • Any loose items that can fall from the retaining wall (if it is in a public space).

How to avoid retaining walls failing

To avoid a retaining wall from failing, you must ensure that it is created correctly, with certain key considerations in mind. But before we address this, let us begin by describing the signs of a failed or failing retaining wall.

A failing, or failed retaining wall will…

  • Have bulges in certain areas.
  • Is leaning either backwards or forwards.
  • Have puddles at the top of the retaining wall during rainy weather
  • Not be securely in place.
  • Not have binding materials, or a secure connection between the blocks or bricks used.

So these are the most clear signs that a retaining wall is failing. So how exactly can this be avoided? Thankfully, there are plenty of methods you can undertake to prevent any of these issues from occurring.

  • Ensuring the retaining wall has proper drainage prevents a multitude of issues, including puddles forming at the top of the retaining wall. In addition to bulges, and the retaining wall leaning.
  • You should make sure that the materials used for the retaining walls are of good quality.
  • The retaining wall should be planned in advance with considerations to the land surrounding it.
  • Making the retaining wall appropriate for the area. (For example, ensuring the retaining wall isn’t exceedingly high if the original slope was small).

Are retaining walls needed?

This depends entirely on the area at hand. Some places do not require retaining walls, such as a garden, or if there is a small slope. However, public places, or land owned by businesses may require a retaining wall in order to ensure safety to people in passing or occupants etc. 

In some cases, retaining walls is a purely aesthetic choice. Whereas in other instances it can help to create space for more features or a greater level of ease when navigating the area the retaining wall is in.

Are there alternatives to retaining walls?

Yes. There are multiple alternatives available for retaining walls. This can include…

  • Grading
  • Terracing
  • Groundcover Plants
  • Bioengineering techniques
  • Gabion Walls
  • Gravity walls

What can you use for a retaining wall?

What is the most versatile concrete block?

In terms of constructing options, you can use regular bricks for a retaining wall, wood, metal, and concrete blocks. All of which have their own pros and cons. But for unequivocally the best option, it would make sense to use an option that is heavy, durable, long-lasting, and doesn’t require extensive additional materials. But is there such an option?

Yes, there is.

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

Create the best retaining walls today

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 provided guidance by answering the question ‘How to avoid retaining walls from failing?’ 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.


The Old Gasworks,

Higginshaw Lane,




Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday – 8 AM until 4 PM

Tel: 01706 655245

Email: info@ppcconcreteproducts.co.uk

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