Retaining Walls: Hire a Professional or DIY?

Not all do-it-yourself projects are created equal.  Even if you’re quite handy, it can be easy to start a home or garden project and then realize you’re in over your head!

So when it comes to retaining walls, should you hire a professional or DIY?

A professional is your best bet for installing a retaining wall, and here’s why…


When you hire the right professional to build a retaining wall, you’ll benefit from a wealth of knowledge and experience!


An expert will be able to provide guidance on the materials that are best for the type of wall you are planning to build.  For instance, decorative walls do not require the same type of materials that a structural retaining wall does as they perform different functions.

At DLL, we use a variety of blocks and stones for our retaining walls – including concrete, natural stone, paver blocks, metal and wood – with expert guidance to meet your needs.

Local Challenges

With experience, a professional knows how to overcome the challenges of building a retaining wall in your area.

Soil makeup can present complications, as it does in Central Ohio where most of the soil is clay.  Without proper machinery, digging deep enough in clay soil can be very labor intensive as decorative walls require placement 4-8 inches underground and structural retaining walls must be built 6-12 inches deep.

It’s also important to know what approvals are needed for structural retaining walls.  A professional will know what permits are needed and how they need to be completed to make the process as simple as possible.

Structural Integrity

When building a retaining wall, whether decorative or for structural support, knowledge of proper structure is essential.


A professional’s knowledge of engineering allows them to choose the correct materials and methods for installing a retaining wall that best suits your needs.  Without this knowledge, many homeowners end up overbuilding and overspending on their wall.

Function determines design as decorative blocks are stacked differently than retaining walls, as they do not perform the same function.  Decorative blocks can be stacked like Legos, while structural wall blocks are thicker and wider have grooving to interlock the blocks to provide strength.


Proper knowledge of how to install the drainage tiles is a key for building a retaining wall.  Improper drainage is one of the leading causes of retaining wall failure.  A professional understands how to lay the drainage tiles and design the wall to ensure sufficient drainage.


Having the proper tools and know-how to ensure your wall is level can be a challenge.  A professional can ensure the structure is level and determine if the wall needs to be “stepped” to accommodate the grade of slope on your landscape.


The cost of your DIY retaining wall project is more than just materials, permits and equipment – you should also factor in the value of your time.

Your Money

Building a retaining wall yourself might be appealing as a cost saving measure.  But, professionals can typically purchase and install a patio for the same investment a homeowner would make if they purchased materials and rented equipment themselves.

Pricing can vary based on materials, the grade of your landscape, the difficulty of the job and local permits.  The benefit of hiring a professional is that the work is warrantied, so if something goes wrong with your wall you have assurance that it will be made right, rather than having to foot the bill for repairs on a DIY wall.

DLL warranties our work as we have the knowledge and experience to get the job done properly the first time, so we are confident in the final product we provide to our customers.

Your Time

Digging into a big DIY project like a retaining wall can quickly eat into your time.  We estimate it takes a homeowner about three times as long as professionally-trained team to complete a wall project.  Unless you enjoy labor-intensive projects, option for a professional will let you spend your time on other pursuits!

Bottom line: we recommend using a professional for retaining wall projects to keep you on time, on budget and in compliance.

Ready for a quote on a retaining wall for your home or business? Contact us for a free estimate.

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