How to Build a Retaining Wall in Victoria BC: A Step-by-Step Guide

Retaining walls in Victoria BC are structures designed to hold back soil or rock, preventing erosion and providing support for vertical slopes. They are crucial in landscaping projects and can be used for erosion control, terracing, and creating usable outdoor spaces. Constructing a retaining wall can be a challenging task. Still, with the right tools, materials, and techniques, you can create a durable and long-lasting structure that enhances the beauty and functionality of your property.

Step 1: Plan and Design Your Retaining Wall

Before starting your project, carefully plan and design your retaining wall to ensure it meets your needs and complies with local building codes and regulations.

  • Determine the purpose and location of your retaining wall.
  • Measure the length, height, and width of the area where the wall will be built.
  • Choose the type and style of retaining wall that suits your needs, preferences, and budget. Common types include gravity, cantilevered, and anchored walls.
  • Consult local building codes and regulations to ensure compliance and obtain necessary permits. Generally anything over 4 ft in height requires an engineering permit for safety reasons.

Step 2: Choose Materials

Select appropriate materials for your retaining wall based on your design preferences, budget, and the wall’s structural requirements. Popular choices include:

  • Concrete blocks: Durable, easy to install, and available in various styles and colors.
  • Natural stone: Provides a rustic, timeless look but can be more challenging to install.
  • Wood: Affordable and versatile but may require more maintenance and have a shorter lifespan.
  • Poured concrete: Strong and long-lasting but may require professional assistance.

Step 3: Prepare the Site

Proper site preparation is crucial for the stability and longevity of your retaining wall.

  • Mark the location of the wall using stakes and string.
  • Excavate the area to create a level base, removing any grass, roots, and debris.
  • Dig a trench that is at least one-third the height of the wall and slightly wider than the width of the wall materials.
  • Add a layer of compacted gravel or paver base to the trench, ensuring it is level and well-compacted.

Step 4: Install Drainage

Proper drainage is essential to prevent water buildup and pressure behind the retaining wall, which can lead to structural failure.

  • Install a perforated drainpipe along the length of the trench, with the holes facing down.
  • Cover the drainpipe with gravel, leaving enough room for the retaining wall materials.
  • If required, add a filter fabric between the gravel and soil to prevent soil from clogging the drainage system.
  • Conversely, a wall with open joints, that is not mortared, will allow natural seepage of water.

Step 5: Build the Retaining Wall

Start constructing your retaining wall carefully following the manufacturer’s guidelines or design plan.

  • Place the first row of retaining wall materials in the trench, ensuring they are level and secure.
  • If using mortar or adhesive, apply it to the top of the first row according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Continue building the wall by adding rows, and staggering the joints for added stability.
  • Periodically use a level to ensure the wall is straight and level.

Step 6: Backfill and Compact

Once the wall is built, backfill the area behind it to provide additional support and ensure proper drainage.

  • Add a layer of gravel or drainage aggregate behind the wall, extending at least one foot from the wall.
  • Fill the remaining space with soil, compacting it as you go to eliminate air pockets and provide support.
  • If desired, add landscape fabric and mulch to the topsoil to prevent erosion and promote plant growth.

Step 7: Finish and Landscape

With the retaining wall complete and the backfill in place, it’s time to finish the project and add landscaping features to enhance the appearance and functionality of the area.

  • If necessary, cap the top of the retaining wall with capstones or coping for a polished, finished look. Secure the capstones with adhesive, if required.
  • Grade the soil around the retaining wall to ensure proper water drainage away from the wall and your property.
  • Plant your desired plants, shrubs, or grass around the retaining wall to create a cohesive landscape design.
  • Install any additional landscape features, such as lighting, irrigation, or pathways, to complete the project.


Building a retaining wall can be a rewarding DIY project that adds both functionality and beauty to your property. By carefully planning, selecting the right materials, and following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can create a stable, long-lasting retaining wall that enhances your landscape design. Remember to consult local building codes and regulations and obtain any necessary permits before beginning your project to ensure compliance and safety. With proper planning and execution, your retaining wall will serve as a valuable addition to your property for years to come. If you’re looking for a reliable and experienced landscaping company to install a retaining wall on your property in Victoria, BC, Triton Landscaping is here to help.

Triton Landscaping will work with you to develop a design that meets your specific needs and preferences, taking into account the features of your property, such as slope, drainage, and soil type. The Triton Landscaping team is committed to providing top-quality workmanship at an affordable price and offers a satisfaction guarantee on all of our services.

Ready to enhance your property with a beautiful and functional retaining wall? Contact Triton Landscaping today to schedule a consultation and get started on your project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What materials can I use to build a retaining wall?

You can use several materials to build a retaining wall, including concrete blocks, natural stone, wood, timber, and bricks. The material you choose will depend on the look you want to achieve and your budget.

Q2: How do I determine the size of my retaining wall?

The size of your retaining wall will depend on the height of the slope you’re trying to control and the amount of space you have available. Measure the length and height of the area where you want to build your wall to determine how much material you’ll need.

Q3: How deep should the foundation of my retaining wall be?

The foundation of your retaining wall should be at least one-third the height of the wall. For example, the foundation should be at least one foot deep if your wall is three feet tall.