5 Basics of Mounting a Fence on Top of a Retaining Wall.

Fence on top of retaining wall
Fence on top of retaining wall

Building a fence on top of a retaining wall can be done as a DIY project, or you may need to hire a professional. There are a lot of factors to consider when in the planning process of building the retaining wall, or if you already have the wall and need to add a fence, you are facing a new set of challenges. Let’s look at the basics of retaining walls and building a fence on top of one. 

Table of Contents

What is a retaining wall

Reason to build retaining wall with a fence on top

There are several reasons why you may need to build a fence on top of a retainer wall. Generally, the ground level above a wall and the ground level below a wall are different heights that can cause concern and require a fence:

1.       Safety. Some retaining walls can be tall and will require a fence to ensure nobody falls over the wall. Adding a fence on top of the wall will stop people from falling over and keep animals and people from climbing up the wall and onto your property.

2.       Privacy. If you live in an urban area, you may consider having a fence installed on top of the wall to give you and your family a little more privacy while using your outdoor space.


3.       Aesthetics. Retaining walls with fences on top can be very beautiful. There are a wide variety of options available, and some people like how it looks. 

Different ways to install a fence on top of the retaining wall

There are three ways that a fence can be installed on top of a retaining wall. Depending on your level of knowledge and skill, you can install the fence yourself, or you may need to bring in a professional to help ensure the fence is installed correctly and is sturdy.

The three different ways to install a fence on top of your retaining wall are:

  1. Three feet behind the wall. If you have the space to place a fence three feet behind the retaining wall, then this installation method is the most advisable. Keeping the fence back three feet will keep pressure off the wall and allow the fence to be sturdier.
  2. Directly behind the wall. Another common practice is installing the fence directly behind the wall. You must be sure that your retaining wall can withstand the construction of the fence without toppling over. There will be a lot of digging, drilling, and hammering beside the retaining wall, and you want to be sure the force from them doesn’t have an effect on the wall.
  3. Top of the retaining wall. Installing a fence directly on top of a retaining wall is the most difficult and may require expert help. If the wall is still being built, you can plan to install the fence as you go, but if the wall is already there, you need to be sure it can withstand the installation of a fence.

Mounting options for your retaining wall fence

There are several options available to you when it comes to mounting a fence on top of a retaining wall. Ideally, the fence would be installed when the wall is installed. That’s the easiest option, so the posts of the fence can be built into the design of the wall. That’s not always the case though. If you’re working with an existing retaining wall, you do have options available to you. First, you need to determine if the wall can handle the construction of a fence on top of it. If the wall is old or not built well, it may not withstand the construction process. It is better to figure this out before beginning and ending up with a crumbling wall and a whole new set of problems.

Let’s look at a few options for mounting a fence on top of a retaining wall.

Surface mount. If you are installing a fence on top of an existing concrete wall, you can use metal base plates. These plates can be bolted right into the concrete and are a sturdy attachment.

Side mounting plates. Much like a surface mount, these metal base plates can be drilled into your wall and bolted down to form a sturdy and secure base for the fence. These are mounted on the side of the wall rather than on top.

Embedded fence posts. This option is for people building their retaining wall knowing a fence is being installed on top. This method allows the fence posts to be embedded in the concrete making for an excellent mounting option.

Fencing options available

When building your fence, you have a few options available to you when it comes to the material of your fence. It comes down to your personal taste and what you find most appealing.

A few materials to consider are:


  • Wood
  • Wrought iron
  • Vinyl
  • Aluminum
  • Steel



When you’re in the planning process of installing a fence on top of your wall, you have a lot of options available to you. While it is easier to build a wall and install a fence on top as one big project. You can still add a fence to a retaining wall after it has been built. There are so many benefits to utilizing retaining walls with fences on top for your property. It can present some challenges but will be worth the effort when completed.

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