Ashburn, VA

How much does a stone retaining wall cost?

$10 – $85 cost per square foot
$20 – $340 cost per linear foot
$2,000 – $10,000 average total cost (50’ long x 2’ to 4’ tall)

Get free estimates from retaining wall contractors near you, or view our cost guide below.

November 29, 2021

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 6 expert retaining wall contractors on HomeGuide.

Stone retaining wall cost

A natural stone retaining wall costs $2,000 to $10,000 on average or $10 to $85 per square foot. A boulder retaining wall costs $25 to $50 per square foot. A gabion retaining wall costs $10 to $40 per square foot. A dry-stack stone retaining wall costs $20 to $85 per square foot.

Average stone retaining wall cost - chart
Average stone retaining wall cost - chart

Stone retaining wall cost
Linear feet Boulder wall cost Gabion wall cost Dry-stack stone wall cost
10’ $500 – $2,000 $200 – $1,600 $400 – $3,400
15’ $750 – $3,000 $300 – $2,400 $600 – $5,100
25’ $1,250 – $5,000 $500 – $4,000 $1,000 – $8,500
50’ $2,500 – $10,000 $1,000 – $8,000 $2,000 – $17,000
100’ $5,000 – $20,000 $2,000 – $16,000 $4,000 – $34,000
150’ $7,500 – $30,000 $3,000 – $24,000 $6,000 – $51,000
200’ $10,000 – $40,000 $4,000 – $32,000 $8,000 – $68,000

*Total installed cost based on a 2’ to 4’ height.

  • A stone-veneer finished retaining wall costs $30 to $80 per square foot.
  • A fieldstone wall costs $20 to $80 per square foot.
  • Limestone retaining wall blocks costs $65 to $90 per block.
  • Retaining wall stone prices are $10 to $25 per square foot.
  • In comparison, other types of retaining walls cost $20 to $50 per square foot on average.

Average rock retaining wall cost

The following table shows the average cost to build a 50’ long rock retaining wall that’s 2’ to 4’ tall.

Average rock retaining wall cost
National average cost $6,000
Minimum cost $1,000
Maximum cost $17,000
Average cost range $2,000 to $10,000

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Stone retaining wall cost per foot

A stone retaining wall costs $20 to $340 per linear foot for walls 2’ to 4’ high, or $10 to $85 per square foot on average. Total costs depend on the material and construction method.

Stone retaining wall cost per linear foot - chart
Stone retaining wall cost per linear foot - chart

Stone retaining wall cost per foot
Stone type Cost per square foot Cost per linear foot*
Boulder rock $25 – $50 $50 – $200
Dry-stacked stone $20 – $85 $40 – $340
Gabion $10 – $40 $20 – $160

*Materials & labor for retaining walls 2’ to 4’ high.

Boulder retaining wall cost

A boulder retaining wall costs $25 to $50 per square foot installed, depending on the boulder size. A boulder retaining wall is typically less than 4’ tall and takes up more space than a regular concrete retaining wall.

Large boulder retaining wall with steps leading to house
Large boulder retaining wall with steps leading to house

  • Requires access for mini excavator on the property
  • Doesn’t need mortar or concrete to install
  • No additional drainage system is necessary due to natural drainage through gaps between boulders

Gabion retaining wall cost

A gabion retaining wall costs $10 to $40 per square foot installed, depending on the stone type, wall depth, machine accessibility, land slope, and footings. Installers typically fill these wire boxes with rip rap, river rocks, or crushed concrete.

Landscaping rock prices are $45 to $130 per ton for a gabion wall.

Gabion retaining wall in residential backyard
Gabion retaining wall in residential backyard

Gabion retaining wall benefits include:

  • Little maintenance and quick to install
  • Flexible and permeable structures allow extra drainage
  • Ideal near shorelines
  • Adaptable to shifting landscapes

Dry-stack stone retaining wall cost

A dry-stack stone retaining wall costs $20 to $85 per square foot installed, depending on the stone type and local availability.

Dry stack stone cost per square foot
Rock type Average cost per square foot
Fieldstone $20 – $80
Limestone $25 – $70
Keystone $20 – $55
Slate $30 – $85
Cobblestone $20 – $45
Pavestone $20 – $55

*Total installed cost, including compacted gravel base.

Dry-stacked stone retaining wall in backyard
Dry-stacked stone retaining wall in backyard

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Fieldstone retaining wall cost

A fieldstone retaining wall costs $20 to $80 per square foot installed. Total costs depend on the size and local stone availability. “Fieldstone” means natural rocks like sandstone, limestone, or granite found on the ground’s surface while clearing land. This stone comes in irregular shapes.

Limestone retaining wall cost

A limestone retaining wall costs $25 to $70 per square foot installed. Limestone boulder retaining walls are common for building terraced stairs in garden walls, and dry-stacked walls 2’ to 4’ tall. 

Keystone retaining wall cost

A Keystone retaining wall costs $20 to $55 per square foot installed. Keystone brand block prices alone are $7 to $15 per block on average. Total costs depend on the block style, size, texture, and wall design options.

Slate retaining wall cost

A slate retaining wall costs $30 to $85 per square foot installed. Slate walls have a high damage resistance and are ideal for dry-stacked stone garden walls 2’ to 3’ tall. Various shades of grey, brown, and grey-blue slate are available according to the supplier’s location.

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Stone veneer retaining wall cost

Building a stone veneer retaining wall costs $30 to $80 per square foot on average, depending on the stone type. Installers typically build a concrete block wall and then adhere natural or manufactured stone veneer to the exterior.

Stone veneer retaining wall cost
Veneer type Average cost per square foot
Manufactured stone $30 – $70
Natural stone $45 – $80

*Total installed cost.

Retaining wall stone prices

Retaining wall stone prices are $10 to $55 per square foot or $60 to $550 per ton for the materials only, depending on the stone type, availability, location, and construction method. A ton of stones covers 7 to 10 square feet on average.

Retaining wall stone prices
Stone type Price per ton Price per square foot of wall face
Limestone $160 – $350 $20 – $45
Boulders $100 – $350 $15 – $35
Fieldstone $70 – $200 $10 – $20
Flagstone $200 – $550 $30 – $55
Cobblestone $60 – $160 $10 – $15
Keystone $350 – $1,300 $10 – $25
Slate $200 – $500 $20 – $55

*Material prices only. Prices per square foot are for average stone walls 2’ wide.

Limestone retaining wall blocks cost

Natural limestone retaining wall blocks cost $65 to $90 per block or $20 to $45 per square foot, excluding delivery and installation. Total costs depend on the type, size, and quantity. Most limestone block sizes are 2 to 3 square feet each.

Limestone retaining wall blocks prices
Metric Average cost
Per block $65 – $90
Per square foot $20 – $45
Per ton $160 – $350

*Material prices only.

Cost of boulders

Boulders cost $100 to $350 per ton on average or up to $600 per ton for extra-large boulders, not including delivery and installation. Prices depend on the rock type, size, and origin.

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Cost to build a large stone retaining wall

Site location and land conditions greatly affect the various cost factors to build a large stone retaining wall:

  • Length and height – Taller retaining walls need stronger and deeper foundations with more reinforcements, increasing the labor time.
  • Design – Complex wall retaining walls with curves, steps, stones mortared into patterns, and other custom designs take more labor time.
  • Foundation – A gravel subgrade base costs $1 to $3 per square foot to stabilize simple garden walls. A reinforced concrete footer costs $18 to $55 per linear foot for most walls more than 3’ to 4’ tall.
  • Delivery – Stone delivery costs $30 to $100 on average or $5 to $10 per ton.
  • Labor costs – Retaining wall builders charge $40 to $80 per hour or $10 to $30 per square foot, depending on the retaining wall type and location.
  • Site access – Labor increases for rugged terrain and sites where delivery trucks and machinery can’t reach.
  • Site leveling Land grading costs $0.40 to $2.00 per square foot. Locate underground utility lines first.
  • Building on slopes vs. level ground – Retaining walls on sloped land cost up to 3 times more than building on flat ground due to deeper footings and more drainage.
  • Soil clearingTree stump removal costs $160 to $350 on average. Removing hard clay or rocky soil requires heavy machinery.
  • Drainage – Installing a French drain costs $10 to $30 per linear foot to prevent erosion and soil pressure building behind the retaining wall.
  • Landscaping repairs – Additional landscaping costs $50 to $100 per hour or $4 to $12 per square foot for repairs.
  • Backfill – Delivering fill dirt costs $150 to $600 per truckload or $15 to $50 per yard.
  • Permits – A permit costs $50 to $250, depending on the wall size and local building codes.
  • Engineering plans – A structural engineer costs $100 to $220 per hour for designing walls higher than 3’ to 4’ tall.
  • Old wall removal – Excavation of old walls and dirt costs $130 to $230 per cubic yard, including disposal.

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Frequently asked questions

How long do stone retaining walls last?

A natural stone retaining wall lasts 50 to 200 years on average, depending on the stone type, construction method, and installation quality. Ensure a long lifespan with regular inspections to promote proper groundwater drainage.

Do gabion walls need foundations?

Most gabion walls need foundations of 2” to 6” of road base rock. Gabion walls don’t need a foundation when built on level bedrock or hard and highly compacted ground. Locations with groundwater issues require a concrete base in some cases.

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Hiring a natural stone retaining wall builder

Before hiring a masonry contractor or landscapers near you:

  • Compare at least three quotes from various contractors.
  • Look for installers certified by the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), or other masonry organizations.
  • Beware of cheaper quotes that often mean lower-quality work.
  • Check their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Pick licensed, insured, and bonded contractors with years of masonry experience.
  • Don’t pay in full upfront. Follow a payment schedule.
  • Collect an itemized bid listing all costs involved.

Questions to ask retaining wall companies

  • Which stone type do you recommend for this wall and why?
  • Can I see photos of other retaining walls you’ve built?
  • Do all your stone materials come from the same local supplier, or will extra delivery fees apply for some stone types from further away?
  • How long have you been building stone retaining walls?
  • Can I see a scaled wall design and stone samples before construction?
  • Do I need a French drain or pipe behind this retaining wall, and if not, why?
  • How long will construction take, and how do you manage project delays?
  • What will you build the retaining-wall foundation with?
  • Will you pull the required building permits and be present for site inspections?
  • Does my yard need grading or leveling before construction starts?
  • Should I prepare space for the crew?
  • Are all materials and labor fees in this estimate? What extra fees can I expect?
  • Does the crew clean up after building, and does that cost extra?
  • How should I contact the job supervisor?
  • Do you hire subcontractors, and if so, does it cost extra to manage them?
  • What’s your payment schedule?
  • Can I get a contract copy before work begins?
  • What’s in your warranty?

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