A Beautiful Terrace and Patio

A request for a retaining wall became a beautiful terrace and patio for a St. Louis client. Big Bend Landscaping was happy to help create this outdoor living dream for this homeowner.


Not long ago, a client asked Big Bend Landscaping to build a retaining wall in his backyard. His home sat at the bottom of a steep slope. But he soon realized that retaining walls can be more than just a solution to a problem. They can accentuate the beauty of a backyard too. As our client’s comfort level with us increased, so did his list of requests. Not long after this, he added a patio and a second tier retaining wall to the job.

Some clients decide they are living in their “forever home,” the place they want to retire in. And sometimes we’re lucky enough to be invited to help them create the outdoor living space of their dreams. We are always pleased to be a part of this. This was one of those clients.

The Vision

Originally, our client asked us to come out and talk to him about building a much-needed retaining wall. He had a steep hill that sloped toward his home. His primary concerns were erosion and rainwater run-off pooling in his yard, potentially causing damage to the foundations of his home.

He’d also installed a brand-new 6-foot fence. He asked if we could do the job without damaging it. And we assured him it would be no problem at all to work around the fence.

After he saw the plans and the quote we gave him, he called us back. Could we add a patio to the job? Yes, we could! And after he saw those plans, he called us again. Would it be possible to create a terraced look by installing a second tier retaining wall further up the hill?

When a client has the room for it, terracing a hill is a great way to reclaim a hillside. It creates more usable green space to add trees, shrubs, or plants. Add a couple of sets of steps and it just gives the whole yard a more polished, attractive appearance. For this sort of hardscaping project, there has to be an adequate amount of space for it. Fortunately, our client had plenty of room and we were happy to tell him yes.

Big Bend Landscaping drew up more plans and showed him the options. Then we discussed the pros and cons of concrete versus patio pavers versus natural stone flagstone. Our client decided on a Cedar Hills Flagstone patio and tan Versa-Lok Square foot blocks for the retaining wall. This was a beautiful, sensible combination.


Building the Retaining Walls for the Terrace

Choosing how it will look

Big Bend Landscaping uses only the highest quality products, including Belgard, BP, Pavestone, Keystone, Versa-Lok and Anchor. Not only do our clients have our guarantee that our work will stand the test of time, they have the product manufacturers’ promise as well.

Walls built with Versa-Lok blocks are dry stacked (mortarless) and interlock with pins. We don’t have to excavate below the frostline in order to keep them from shifting with soil changes. And because non-rusting pins made of fiberglass and nylon hold the blocks together, they will withstand changes in soil moisture, without shifting or cracking. Versa-Lok walls stand for many years with minimal maintenance.

The first step in the terrace

We began by deciding how far apart each of our retaining walls was going to be to create the terrace. This dictated whether we were going to have dependent or independent walls. The distance influences how deeply we set each wall, how we install the reinforcement mesh, and how we handle the drainage plates. These walls were going to be close enough that we needed to combine drainage plates. We do this so we can easily direct the drainage into a dry creek bed or somewhere outside the yard.

Our crew prepared the hill by scraping off the vegetation and removing much of the soil. And beginning with the lower wall, we dug a trench and added our leveling pad. This included crushed gravel, sand, and soil that we pressed into place. Then we combined drainage plates, reinforcement mesh, drainage material and soil as we secured each layer of blocks.

As an added landscaping feature, we also added two yards of Iowa creek stone between the lower wall and the client’s deck. This attractive feature helps redirect run-off away from the deck and foundation of the home.

We followed the same steps while building the upper retaining wall.  When both walls were completed, we added caps for a clean, polished look. We had the terrace for our client.

Building the steps

We created the steps for each wall by placing caps on top of a series of base units. And as we do with any surface, people are going to walk on, our crew carefully leveled and stabilized each one.

As you can see in the pictures, the owner’s excellent taste combined with our expertise created a beautiful terraced appearance.

Hardscaping the Patio

We excavated the area where the owner wanted to place the patio and leveled it with great care using a plate compactor. Then we added a crushed gravel base and leveled it again. After that, we added a layer of sand and confirmed that it was level as well.

We chose our flagstones and arranged them on the crushed rock and sand. We pressed or hammered each stone into place as we worked, making sure the entire surface was even and that the flagstones wouldn’t shift or move. Finally, we grouted them with polymeric sand which acts as a grout.

The Final Results for the Terrace

The finished retaining walls were each 4 feet tall and 50 feet long; the patio was 500 square feet. Our client was very pleased with his new patio and terraced green space. Not only does he not have to worry about damage to his foundation or flooding, he has a beautiful outdoor living area to enjoy and entertain in. He can also be secure with our guarantee that if there is a problem with our work, we will stand behind it.


Big Bend Landscaping has been helping homeowners in the St. Louis area attain their dream of the perfect outdoor living area for more than twenty-five years.

Our staff has a Level 1 Certification from the National Concrete and Masonry Association. Our staff and crews are always learning new ways to provide the newest methods of construction. And we are always updating our list of materials so that we have only the highest quality available.

We build outdoor living spaces of all kinds—from kitchens to patios to fireplaces to retaining walls, and much more!  Chances are good, if you can picture it, we can build it for you!

Do you like what you see here and want to know more? Check out our website to see the work we’ve already done, give us a call at (636) 349-2946 or contact us for an online estimate!