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How to Build a Retaining Wall With Rocks & Wire

Serena Styles

Retaining walls hold back earth on slopes and hills, preventing it from falling or sliding downward. They commonly line gardens, driveways, roads, yards and other outdoor features. Wire and rock retaining walls are a cost-effective option for landscaping.

Rock and wire retaining walls are also known as gabion walls.

Wire baskets, known as gabions, are positioned in front of the earth that needs to be retained, and then filled with rocks to prevent them from moving. Purchasing gabions is best, as making them from scratch is time consuming and requires a level of expertise.

  1. Write down the width, height and length of the area where you will build the retaining wall. Use a measuring tape for accuracy. Purchase enough gabions for the retaining wall project from your local hardware store. Several sizes and types are available for a relatively low price. Ask a sales representative to help you based on the measurements if you are unsure how many gabions you need.

  2. Use a shovel and rake to level the area where you will place the gabions. For larger projects, a backhoe or other machinery may be necessary. If so, you can rent them by the hour or day from machinery rental companies.

  3. Place the gabions along the area where you plan to build the retaining wall. Tie the gabions together with 14-gauge steel wire using pliers. Fasten each edge with at least five ties of steel wire. Use wire cutters to trim excess wire as necessary.

  4. Pack each gabion full with rocks. Rocks from any source will do, as long as they have a larger diameter than the wire mesh so they do not fall out of the gabions. Landscaping companies and quarries sell different grades of rocks for a range of prices. Rocks from a current construction project work as well. Once the gabions are full, wire the tops shut and the retaining wall is complete. You can now fill in the area behind the gabions with dirt or rock to complete the project if you did not build it against an existing hill or slope.


You can add additional layers of gabions on top or in front of the current one to change the size of the retaining wall. If you do, tie the new gabions to the full ones along all touching edges with 14-gauge steel wire.