fbpx Adding Character to your Retaining Wall with Plantings, Water Features, Coping and Lighting | Unilock

Adding Character to your Retaining Wall with Plantings, Water Features, Coping and Lighting

Adding Character to your Retaining Wall with Plantings, Water Features, Coping and Lighting

Unilock wall units are designed to create retaining walls rich with visual character and personality. From captivating modern aesthetics to the natural textures of rock, the range presented by Unilock runs the gamut of design themes to suit your individual taste. To further integrate these stunning wall units into your landscape design, they can be enhanced with a number of accessories, including plantings, water features, coping and lighting. Here are some ideas for transforming your retaining wall system into a focal feature that will add ambience, dynamism and functionality to your landscape:


There are a number of ways to use plantings to enhance and accessorize a retaining wall. One such way is to integrate plant beds either at the base of the retaining wall or behind it in the form of raised plant beds. Beds situated in front of the retaining wall can be filled with plants that complement the color or texture of the retaining wall. For example, consider contrasting the rugged texture of an Estate Wall retaining wall with the long, fine blades of ornamental grasses. Fine, decorative grasses and reeds create an interesting counterpoint to the rich texture of ledge rock offered by Estate Wall and introduce a wider range of textural variation into the landscape. Alternatively, match these plants to a smooth-surfaced wall, such as Lineo Dimensional Stone for a gentle modern effect, or use the refined texture to complement wide-leaved plantings or shrubs with coarse bark.

If raised plant beds have been incorporated into your retaining walls, consider brightly colored flowers and plants that spill over and down the front of the wall. Bright colors and dark greens stand out brilliantly against walls built using grey or muted color options, such as the French Grey Umbriano, Peppered Granite Series Finish or Opal Smooth Face color options of the U-Cara Multi-Face Wall System.

Climbing vines are also an excellent way to add another level of naturalism to your landscape. Pair these with Rivercrest Wall, a wall unit with natural, ultra-realistic detail modelled off the beauty of stacked flagstone. Consult with your Unilock Authorized Contractor to find out which vines can be used safely on structures, and to ensure that you don’t inadvertently introduce an invasive species to your yard.


Related Read: What Color Options Work Best for Retaining Walls?


Water Features

As well as being suitable for retaining walls, Unilock wall units are ideal for creating other vertical elements in the landscape, such as outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, grill islands and water features. Water features can be integrated into a retaining wall to completely transform the surrounding area by introducing the soothing ambience of cascading water. Water feature designs are vast and varied. Talk to a Unilock Authorized Contractor today about designing one suitable to the style of your landscape and your own personal tastes. One material that is popular for this sort of feature is the Brussels Dimensional System. While Brussels Dimensional System wall units may feature as an accent or as banding in a retaining wall, a water feature built from this wall unit is visually compatible with many other wall units offered by Unilock, allowing you to complement your retaining wall no matter what materials it is comprised of. From grand waterfall features to small fountains, the Brussels Dimensional System is ideal. Its tumbled finish and classic style introduces character and charm, and can be a great complementary feature for a retaining wall.

An alternative to building a seperate water feature onto your retaining wall is to integrate a pondless waterfall directly into the retaining wall itself. This way, the water supply pipes will be concealed by the backfill of the wall and the pondless circulation system will reduce the amount of space needed for the feature.


Visually, coping serves the purpose of finishing the wall off and introducing a beautiful accent that can be repeated throughout your vertical features, including stairs. It also presents a comfortable surface on which to sit, in the case of seat walls, and can provide additional counter space and room for serving or resting trays of drinks or snacks. By introducing an attractive coping to your retaining walls, you can transform them into features that serve a functional purpose while entertaining. Maximize the character of your retaining walls by selecting a coping option that enhances the design of your retaining wall and the function that you wish it to serve.

For example, if you plan to turn your retaining wall into additional permanent seating, Ledgestone Fullnose Coping is ideal. The refined surface and rounded edge make it a safe and comfortable option. However, should you wish to complement the aesthetic of your wall by adding rich texture, Sandstone Natural Edge Coping is ideal.


Related Read: Stunning Uses of Natural Stone Coping



Retaining walls present an abundance of opportunities for discreetly mounting outdoor lighting, not least of which being beneath the coping and within the wall itself. More noticeable, decorative fixtures are an option as well. Including your retaining walls into your outdoor lighting plan not only highlights their character at night, but adds ambience and visibility to your landscape in general.

To accentuate the character of your retaining walls after dark, one lighting technique that can be utilized is grazing. Grazing involves lighting that is directed along the surface of the wall from a point either at the wall’s base, beneath the wall’s coping or somewhere along the wall itself. This has the effect of throwing the raises and dips in the wall unit’s texture into stark contrast. The natural rock texture of Concord Wall, for example, becomes rich and dramatic when this effect is used.


The title image features walls built using Estate Wall.


Adding Character to your Retaining Wall with Plantings, Water Features, Coping and Lighting


We’re Here
To Help

Find a Contractor you can trust

Working with a Unilock Authorized Contractor is working with the best of the best. Our UACs possess the knowledge and expertise to bring your dream project to life, and deliver stunning results that will exceed your expectations.


Browse our Design Idea Catalog

Explore endless design possibilities through our Design Idea Catalog. Browse our extensive portfolio of paver and wall products, and get inspired by our outstanding design projects that will fuel your creative expression.


Visit an Outdoor Idea Center

Experience the beauty and quality of Unilock paver and wall products in a life-sized setting by visiting a local Outdoor Idea Center. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff are on hand to answer any questions and offer free product samples.

Idea Center
Skip to content