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  • Writer's pictureJosh Hric

Retaining Wall Maintenance: Pro Tips for Success

Well maintained retaining wall in St. Louis, MO with furniture on patio and plants
A Well Maintained Retaining Wall

Key Highlights

· Regular preventative maintenance helps the longevity of your wall.

· Removing weeds from small spaces in the wall regularly helps maintain its integrity.

· Clearing ice and snow in the winter months prevents moisture damage and costly repairs.

· Proper drainage and water runoff are essential to prevent water damage and prevent retaining wall failure.

· Utilizing plants to secure soil and beautify the area can help with erosion control.

· Routine checks for pests and infestations are important for the health of the retaining wall.

· Promptly repairing cracks and structural damage is necessary to prolong the wall's life.

· Backfilling eroded areas prevents further damage and ensures the longevity of your existing structure.

· Considering the impact of location and climate on maintenance is essential for proper care of the retaining wall.

· Knowing when to seek professional help is important for major structural issues and advanced maintenance strategies.

· DIY maintenance can be beneficial for regular upkeep, but professional input is invaluable in certain scenarios.


Retaining walls are an essential feature for many properties, providing structural support and preventing soil erosion. However, like any other element of your property, retaining walls require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity and durability. Neglecting proper maintenance can lead to costly repairs or even the failure of the retaining wall.

Proper retaining wall maintenance not only enhances the beauty of your property but also safeguards the wall's integrity. In this comprehensive guide for homeowners, we will share essential tips for retaining wall maintenance, from inspecting and removing weeds to ensuring proper drainage systems.

Whether you choose to do-it-yourself or seek professional help, these tips will help you protect your investment and keep your retaining wall looking new for years to come.

Expert Tips for Retaining Wall Maintenance Success

Proper maintenance is the key to the success of your retaining wall. By following a few expert tips, you can ensure that your wall remains in pristine condition and avoids any potential failure. These tips include inspecting and removing weeds regularly to prevent damage, clearing ice and snow in the winter months to avoid moisture damage, ensuring proper drainage to prevent water damage, utilizing plants to secure soil and add beauty to the area, conducting routine checks for pests and infestations, quickly repairing cracks and structural damage, and backfilling eroded areas to prevent further damage. Finally, consider the impact of location and climate on maintenance and seek professional help when necessary to effectively maintain your wall's integrity.

1. Inspect and Remove Weeds Regularly

Thoroughly inspecting your retaining wall and removing weeds regularly should be a priority in your maintenance routine. Weeds can cause damage to the wall by penetrating through cracks and crevices, resulting in weakened structural integrity. Additionally, weeds can contribute to the eroding of the soil behind the wall and lead to drainage issues.

To inspect your retaining wall, visually examine the entire structure for any signs of cracks, bulges, or leaning. Pay close attention to areas where weeds may be present, such as gaps between stones or along the base of the wall. Use a weed removal tool or your hands to carefully remove any weeds, taking care not to damage the wall or disturb the soil.

By incorporating this maintenance activity into your routine, you can prolong the life of your retaining wall and avoid more extensive repairs in the future.

2. Clear Ice and Snow in Winter Months

Moisture damage is a common issue for retaining walls, especially during the St. Louis winter months when ice and snow accumulate. The weight of ice and snow can exert pressure on the wall, potentially causing cracks or even structural failure.

To prevent moisture damage, it is a good idea to clear ice and snow from your retaining wall quickly. Use a soft-bristle broom or shovel to remove the snow, taking care not to scrape or damage the surface of the wall. If ice has formed, use an ice melt product or a gentle heat source, such as warm water, to melt the ice without causing thermal shock to the wall.

Clearing ice and snow not only protects the wall's integrity but also prevents costly repairs in the long run. By being proactive in winter maintenance, you can make sure that your retaining wall remains in excellent condition and withstand the harsh winter weather.

3. Ensure Proper Drainage to Prevent Water Damage

Proper drainage is vital for retaining wall maintenance. Without a proper drainage system in place, water can accumulate behind the wall, leading to water damage, erosion, and even structural failure.

To prevent water damage, make certain that your retaining wall has a proper drainage system installed. This can include perforated drain pipes, gravel backfill, and weep holes that allow water to escape. Regularly inspect and clean the drainage system, ensuring that it is free from debris and obstructions.

Additionally, consider the slope of the ground surrounding the retaining wall. Proper grading and landscaping can help divert water away from the wall, reducing the risk of water damage.

By addressing drainage issues quickly and performing regular maintenance, you can prevent costly repairs and extend the life of your retaining wall.

4. Use Plants to Secure Soil and Beautify the Area

Incorporating plants into your landscaping design is not only beautiful but also one of the best ways to maintain the health of your retaining wall. Plants can help secure the soil behind the wall, preventing erosion.

Choose plants with deep root systems that can anchor the soil and provide stability to the retaining wall. Groundcover plants, such as creeping thyme or vinca minor, can be effective in controlling erosion and adding a lush ground cover.

When planting near the base of the retaining wall, there should be a sufficient gap between the plants and the wall to allow for proper airflow and prevent moisture buildup. Regularly maintain the plants by trimming and removing any dead or overgrown foliage.

By utilizing plants strategically, you can enhance the stability of the soil, improve erosion control, and create a visually appealing landscape around your retaining wall.

5. Routine Checks for Pests and Infestations

Regularly checking for pests and infestations is an essential part of maintaining your retaining wall. Pests, such as termites or ants, can cause significant damage to the structure of the wall, compromising its integrity.

During routine maintenance, visually inspect the retaining wall for any signs of activity, such as tunnels, droppings, or damage to the stones or missing mortar. If you notice any signs of pests, consult with a pest control professional to address the issue right away.

Preventative measures, such as using pest-resistant materials or applying appropriate treatments, can help deter pests from infesting the retaining wall. Just check with your retaining wall contractor to make certain the pest spray or treatment will not damage your wall.

By regularly checking for pests and taking proactive measures, you can protect your retaining wall from potential damage and maintain its structural stability.

6. Prompt Repair of Cracks and Structural Damage

Repairing any cracks or structural damage is crucial to maintaining the integrity of your retaining wall. Even minor cracks can worsen over time, leading to more extensive damage and potential failure of the wall.

When inspecting your retaining wall, carefully examine the stones and mortar for any signs of cracks, bulges, or shifting. If you notice any damage, it is important to address it quickly to prevent further deterioration.

Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to repair minor cracks yourself using appropriate repair materials, such as epoxy or mortar. However, for more significant structural damage, you should consult with a professional mason who specializes in retaining walls or a retaining wall contractor.

By quickly repairing cracks and structural damage, you can prolong the life of your retaining wall and avoid more costly repairs or potential collapse.

7. Backfill Eroded Areas to Prevent Further Damage

Erosion can occur behind the retaining wall, leading to the loss of soil and potential damage to the wall's stability. To prevent further damage, it is important to backfill eroded areas quickly.

Inspect the area behind the retaining wall for any signs of erosion, such as depressions or exposed roots. Using the correct type of backfill material, such as gravel or soil, fill in the eroded areas and pack it firmly.

Additionally, consider installing erosion control measures, such as retaining wall fabric or geotextile, to prevent future erosion. By backfilling eroded areas and implementing erosion control measures, you can protect the integrity of your retaining wall and prevent further damage.

8. The Impact of Location and Climate on Retaining Wall Maintenance

The location and climate of your property can significantly impact the maintenance needs of your retaining wall. Factors such as the type of material used, exposure to extreme weather conditions, and the presence of trees or vegetation should be considered when developing a maintenance plan.

For example, if your retaining wall is located in an area with heavy rainfall or freeze-thaw cycles, it may require more frequent inspections and repairs. Similarly, if your property is prone to strong winds or storms, additional measures may be needed to ensure the wall's stability.

Consider consulting with a professional mason or retaining wall expert who can provide guidance specific to your location and climate. They can offer insights on the best materials and maintenance practices to ensure the long-term durability and integrity of your retaining wall.

By considering the impact of location and climate on maintenance, you can tailor your maintenance routine to address specific challenges and protect your investment.

When to Seek Professional Help For Retaining Wall Maintenance

Identifying major structural issues, such as extensive cracks, bulges, or leaning, should prompt you to contact a professional immediately. These issues can indicate underlying problems that require professional assessment and repair.

Additionally, consulting with a professional can provide valuable insights on advanced maintenance strategies, such as proper drainage systems or specialized repair techniques.

By knowing when to seek professional help, you can address potential issues promptly and ensure the ongoing success of your retaining wall.

Identifying Major Structural Issues

Identifying major structural issues is crucial for the health and longevity of your retaining wall. Signs of major structural issues can include extensive cracks, bulges, leaning, or shifting.

During routine inspections, carefully examine your retaining wall for any signs of damage or structural instability. Look for cracks that are wider than 1/8 inch, significant bulges or leaning, or any movement of the wall that is not within normal parameters.

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to seek professional help immediately. Major structural issues can indicate underlying problems that require expert assessment and repair. Ignoring or neglecting these issues can lead to further damage and potential failure of the retaining wall.

By identifying major structural issues early on, you can address them promptly and maintain the durability of your retaining wall.

DIY vs. Professional Retaining Wall Maintenance

When it comes to retaining wall maintenance, you have the option of taking a DIY approach or seeking professional help. Both options have their advantages, and the choice depends on factors such as your level of expertise, the complexity of the maintenance task, and your budget.

Benefits of regular DIY maintenance include cost savings, convenience, and the ability to address minor issues promptly. However, for major structural issues, complex repairs, or advanced maintenance strategies, professional input is invaluable. Professionals have the expertise, specialized tools, and experience to tackle complex maintenance tasks and ensure the long-term integrity of your retaining wall.

By making the right choice between DIY and professional maintenance, you can effectively care for your retaining wall and maintain its durability and aesthetics.


Proper maintenance is key to the longevity of your retaining wall. Regular inspections, timely repairs, and understanding the impact of weather and location are crucial. DIY maintenance can save you time and money, but professional help is essential for major structural issues. By following expert tips and seeking assistance when needed, you can ensure your retaining wall remains strong and durable. If you have any concerns or require professional guidance, don't hesitate to get in touch with us for more info. Your retaining wall's stability and safety are our priority.

Contact Retaining Wall & Paving Solutions at: 314.518.4523 for any of your retaining wall maintenance questions. We are here to help!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I inspect my retaining wall?

Inspecting your retaining wall annually is recommended. However, minor maintenance tasks, such as cleaning, can be done every two years, while major repairs should be done every five years. Regular inspections help identify potential issues and ensure the wall's stability.

What are the signs of a failing retaining wall?

Signs of a failing retaining wall include cracks wider than 1/8 inch, significant bulges or leaning, or any movement that is not within normal parameters. These signs indicate potential structural issues that require immediate attention.

Can plants and vegetation affect retaining wall stability?

Yes, plants and vegetation can affect retaining wall stability. Their roots can penetrate through cracks or gaps in the wall, causing damage and compromising its integrity. Proper planning and maintenance are necessary to make certain that plants do not impact the stability of the retaining wall.

How does weather impact retaining wall maintenance needs?

Weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, freeze-thaw cycles, or strong winds, can impact the maintenance needs of a retaining wall. These conditions can lead to erosion, moisture damage, or structural instability. Taking appropriate measures and conducting regular inspections and repairs can address weather-related maintenance needs.

When is it time to completely replace a retaining wall?

It may be time to consider replacing a retaining wall if it has extensive damage, severe leaning, or is over 20 years old. A professional assessment can help determine the severity of the damage and guide the decision to replace the wall.

What preventative measures can extend the life of my retaining wall?

To extend the life of your retaining wall, implement preventative measures such as regular maintenance activities, proper drainage systems, and addressing minor issues promptly. Regular inspections, weed removal, cleaning, and repairs can help maintain the wall's durability and prevent major damage.

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