Pond & Lake Retaining Walls

Pond and lake retaining wall

Retaining Wall Benefits

Erosion control

Waves and wakes constantly pushing against shore over time will cause the shoreline to begin to erode. This can be an inconvenient or even dangerous situation, if a structure is located nearby. An expertly-designed, well-maintained seawall prevents erosion of the shoreline.

Flood control

Rising water levels due to heavy rains can cause ponds and lakes to overflow, potentially causing extensive flood damage to the property. A retaining wall protects the property from damage due to overflow.

Space & cost-saving solution

Retaining walls take up much less space than other shoreline solutions, like dikes, for example. Since less material and space are needed for the construction of a seawall, construction costs are typically lower than those incurred by traditional shoreline solutions.


Properly installed and maintained, a retaining wall can hold strong for over a hundred years. Of course, this will vary depending on environmental factors, but seawalls are longer-lasting than other solutions in any situation.

Pond and lake retaining wall

Basic Retaining Wall Maintenance

  1. Monitor plant growth around the base of the wall. Roots can burrow underneath the wall and cause cracks over time, so it may be necessary to weed the base of the wall regularly.
  2. Regularly check weep holes (openings in the wall that allow small amounts of water through the wall to prevent the pressure of water from overpowering the wall). Make sure they’re not blocked or clogged for optimal performance.
  3. For added protection against erosion, apply a waterproofing solution to the wall. These solutions typically come in a spray applicator and provide an extra layer of waterproofing to ensure your wall lasts longer.
Pond and lake retaining wall

Pond & Lake Retaining Wall FAQs

Do retaining walls need to be waterproofed?

Your retaining wall is only as functional as the design, construction and care allow. That said, while your wall is protecting your property from water intrusion, you will need to take steps to protect the wall from the impact of being constantly exposed to said water. This protection is two-fold: drainage and waterproofing.

It is crucial that your retaining wall is built with effective drainage in place; without proper drainage, hydrostatic pressure (water pressing against the wall) can eventually cause bulging, buckling, cracking or collapse of the wall. While good drainage is part of the design of the wall regarding granular backfill as well as installing a pipe in the base of the wall to feed excess water to storm drains, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to regularly check weep holes to ensure that they’re not clogged or blocked in any way.

Waterproofing the retaining wall protects the wall from absorbing moisture, which can cause discoloration as well as compromise the integrity of the wall. Waterproofing membranes function very much like the waterproofing used in basement walls. Fast Tilt’s walls are integrally waterproofed with agents made to withstand the elements of both below- and above-ground applications.

Why should I choose concrete over wood or cinder block for my pond/lake retaining wall?

Wood can be an affordable option for retaining walls along the shore of a body of water, but it is also much more susceptible to warping and decay due to being constantly in contact with water. This is exacerbated when used in salt water.

Cinder block is a strong material with high compressive strength, but block walls are more prone to leaks, buckling and bowing than poured concrete. Furthermore, a good cinder block wall requires the services of skilled bricklayers, which substantially increases the cost of labor.

Concrete is seamless, which presents an inherent advantage over block walls in both leak resistance and lateral strength. Reinforced poured concrete is stronger and more durable than any other material, allowing them to last for decades with very little maintenance. Additionally, a precast poured concrete retaining wall has unlimited design potential, so your wall can be as beautiful as it is functional.

Does homeowners insurance cover retaining walls?

It’s important to thoroughly understand your policy so that you know what is covered and what is excluded. In many homeowners insurance policies, incidents such as “earth movement” are typically specifically listed as an excluded event. These incidents can include sinkholes, earthquakes, erosion, heave, and expanding and contracting soil.

However, retaining walls are frequently considered to be a “detached structure” and therefore can be covered under a specific set of conditions. These conditions can include fire, wind, a vehicle striking the wall or lightning. This list is not exhaustive, so make sure you check your policy to become familiar with inclusions and exclusions in coverage.

While you can purchase earthquake and/or flood protection as an add-on to your homeowners insurance policy, this type of coverage won’t usually cover the mudslides or landslides often caused by earthquakes. Some insurers may offer additional coverage for erosion or earthquake damage, but coverage is often very limited. Your best option is to sit down with an insurance agent to ensure that you have and understand all the coverage you need to feel comfortable.

How much does a retaining wall cost?

Pricing will vary depending on many factors, such as location, length and height of the wall, grading of the land and materials used. That said, the average cost of a poured concrete retaining wall in the United States is $20-25 per square foot. Again, the final pricing will be heavily dependent on the aforementioned factors. If you’d like Fast Tilt to provide an onsite estimate, please contact our office.

Can I build my own retaining wall?

You can, but unless you’re a construction expert, the chances of premature failure is sharply elevated. In addition, there are permitting requirements, which vary from county to county, but typically, any retaining wall taller than 3 feet will require a building permit issued by the county. You’ll also need to call local utility companies to come out to the build site and check for buried electrical or plumbing components which could be damaged by digging the wall’s trench.

Should you decide to build a retaining wall, you’re often obligated to consider how your wall will affect your neighbors, especially if your property is downhill from your neighbors due to grading on your part. Any land grading creates alterations in the natural water flow and thus must be leveled by the downhill homeowner. This will vary depending on your county ordinances and other considerations, so check with your county building code office.