block vs boulder retaining wall
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Block vs. Boulder: Which is Best For Your Retaining Wall?

Retaining walls are functional by helping prevent soil erosion and controlling water runoff, ensuring that your landscape stays in excellent condition for years to come. But they can also add aesthetic appeal to your outdoor space. When it comes to retaining wall materials, two popular options are block and boulder. But which one is the best for your specific needs? In this blog post, we’ll break down the differences between block and boulder retaining walls and help you make an informed decision.


One of the first things you need to consider when choosing between a block or boulder retaining wall is the cost. Generally speaking, block costs more than boulders. Certain product lines of wall block from hardscape manufactures can cost significantly more than others. This is usually due to varying block face textures, sizes, shapes, structural load and more. Wondering how much to budget? Check out our post about retaining wall costs.


If you’re looking for a natural-looking retaining wall that blends seamlessly with its surroundings, then boulders might be the way to go. Boulders come in different shapes and sizes, giving you more flexibility when it comes to creating a unique design.

On the other hand, blocks offer a sleeker look that can complement modern homes or landscapes. Blocks also come in different colors and textures, allowing you to choose a style that matches your personal taste.

Construction Process

Another factor to consider is installation time and complexity. Installing a block retaining wall typically takes a lot more man-hours than installing a boulder wall since block require setting a perfectly level base course, this is very labor-intensive. Once the base is laid, stacking the additional courses is relatively quick depending on the height, length and shape of the wall. Once the it is all built out, cap stone will need to be glued to the top of the wall for a refined appearance. And if blocks and caps need to be cut – this will add more time to the project.

In contrast, installing a boulder retaining wall requires heavy machinery like skid loaders and mini excavators. This equipment use comes with a cost when it comes to your wall project but generally a boulder wall will cost less than a block wall.

Beyond the construction of your wall, other factors to consider are the surrounding terrain. Will the site require additional grading and drainage? Will sod or landscape beds with mulch and plants need to be installed on top of the wall after it’s been back-filled?

Enhance Your Outdoor Space With Help From Northwood Outdoor Services

Choosing between a block or boulder retaining wall ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Contact the expert team at Northwood Outdoor Services today to get a quote on your next wall project in the northwest or west metro.

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