Landscape Lighting for Retaining Walls

Choosing Landscape Lighting for Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are too often overlooked as purely functional spaces. In fact, the capacity for aesthetic improvements to your landscaping utilizing retaining walls is actually significant. Retaining walls can serve as interesting vertical lines in your landscaping, support gardening, and allow for unique gardening opportunities like rock gardens.

Landscape lighting for retaining walls can make retaining walls look beautiful at night as well. Here's what you need to know about choosing landscape lighting for retaining walls.

Why Get Landscape Lighting for Your Retaining Walls?

Many people don't think about getting landscape lighting for the retaining walls, but in fact this may be one of the most effective and aesthetically pleasing places that you can utilize landscape lighting.

For the most part, there’s nothing that you can do about having a retaining wall. They are essential in order to keep soil from eroding and sliding. Embrace your retaining walls with beautiful lighting. Here are a few reasons why it's a great idea to choose landscape lighting for your retaining wall.

American National Sprinkler & Lighting - landscape lighting for retaining walls - a retaining wall with flower landscape.


Retaining walls have a way of vanishing in the darkness. It can be very easy to run into a retaining wall with your vehicle. Even more dangerously, if you are on the top side of a retaining wall, you may not realize that the drop is there and go over it on foot or in your vehicle. Adding landscape lighting to retaining walls makes them clearly visible from the top or the bottom.

Make a Space Seem Bigger

If retaining walls form the borders of your garden or property, using landscape lighting on them can make them seem further away and therefore make your entire garden or property seem bigger. In order to create this effect, use smaller lights spaced regularly to make the wall seem bigger and further away.

Illuminate Gardening

Whether you want to plant vines or other plants and have them spill over your retaining wall or you actually plant within the wall to create a rock garden, there are many great gardening opportunities in retaining walls.

By utilizing landscape lighting for your retaining walls you can illuminate this gardening and create a very interesting effect. Lights that shine onto flowers poking out of the rocks can be lovely, and lights that are hidden among the shrubbery can create a dramatic effect as they shine over the edge of the retaining wall.

Encourage People to Wander Out into Your Garden

Something about a path and a lit retaining wall just makes you want to wander along it. The effect is even greater if your retaining wall is attractively planted. Lighting your retaining wall and creating a path along it will encourage guests to wander from your patio and explore your garden in the night time.

Retaining Wall Lighting Ideas

It can be a bit difficult to visualize the best way to create landscape lighting for your retaining walls. There are a wide variety of options available. Different types of retaining wall lights will have different effects and may have different levels of functionality depending on your space. Here are a few retaining wall lighting ideas to inspire you for how to light your space.

Recessed Lighting at the Base
Landscape lighting can be installed at the base of your retaining walls and either shine up onto the wall, out across the ground, or both.

  • Because these lights are built into the retaining wall, they pose less risk of being kicked or broken than some other types of lighting options.
  • Often work well when you want to emphasize the texture of the retaining wall, for instance if it is made of an attractive stone or brick or if it is planted.
  • Great choice when you have plants growing from the top of the retaining wall, especially small trees or shrubs with defined branching systems. This is because the light has a tendency to shine up the wall into the branches of the trees, which is a pleasant effect.
  • Recessed lighting at the base of retaining walls is a bit more subtle when the lights are lit, so if you want your landscape lighting to really blend into the landscape, these may be a good pick.

Recessed Lighting in the Wall
Recessed lighting that is mounted into the wall creates an even glow that spreads out from the wall.

  • A good option for when you want to thoroughly light the area around the retaining wall, such as when you have a retaining wall along a path or courtyard area.
  • Because these lights are recessed and because they are above foot level, they are one of the least likely to be damaged even if there is car traffic near the retaining wall.
  • Difficult to hide during the daytime so some people may not like the way they stand out.

Spotlights at the Base
Spotlights at the base of your retaining wall are generally positioned to spotlight the wall itself, illuminating the texture or gardening in the wall.

  • Good choice when you do not want too much ambient light to be shed at the base of the retaining wall but want the wall to be well illuminated.
  • In order for the spotlights to shine on the wall, they must be set back a bit from it, so this is not a good lighting choice when there's a path or road at the base of the retaining wall.

Spotlights at the Top
Spotlights at the top of the retaining wall shine down onto the wall and the area in front of the wall.

  • A good pick for when you want the area in front of a wall to be very well illuminated and when you do not want any excess light to shed over the top of the wall.
  • Create a dramatic effect

Post Lights at the Top
Post or hanging lights at the top are some of the easiest to install landscape lighting for retaining walls, but they are also among the most vulnerable.

  • It can be very easy to knock over post lights unless they are very well installed.
  • Charming effect and look attractive in the daytime as well as at night.
American National Sprinkler & Lighting - landscape lighting for retaining walls - lighting on stairs can help safely navigate them at night.

Hardscape Lighting Tips

If you have a retaining wall to light, there is probably a pretty good chance that you also have some other hardscape in your landscape that you would like to light as well.

  1. It is a good idea to use the same type of lights for your wall as you do for the rest of your hardscaping.
  2. Often two types of lighting will work well together, such as recessed lighting and hanging lights.
  3. One aspect of hardscaping that often goes along with retaining walls are stairs. In order to make sure that stairs can be navigated safely in the evening, it's a good idea to put landscape lights at the base of each step or shine lights on to the stairs.
  4. Shine landscape lighting up into pergolas or arbors to highlight their architecture and draw the eye upwards.

How Does Landscape Lighting for Retaining Walls Work with Other Landscape Lighting?

If you're trying to provide landscape lighting for your entire space, you may be wondering how retaining wall lighting will integrate with other lighting. It is important to keep your overall landscape lighting goals in mind when planning the lighting for your retaining walls. If you want to provide lots of landscape lighting to accent trees or shrubs in your yard, it may be best to keep lighting on the retention wall a little bit more subtle so as not to overwhelm your yard with light.

On the other hand, if your retaining wall is a major asset in your garden, you may want to highlight it in order to draw attention there and not to other parts of the yard. Walk your property from multiple angles and consider all of your options when deciding how landscape lighting will work together. Your landscape lighting installation professional will also be able to help inform you and give you good ideas for the best way to light your landscape.

Choose American National Sprinkler & Lighting for Landscape Lighting for Retaining Walls

American National Sprinkler & Lighting has been installing gorgeous landscape lighting as well sprinkler systems since 1984. They are dedicated to installing extremely high-quality systems which can last you a lifetime without needing to be replaced. They stand by their work and are happy to perform any necessary maintenance to keep your retention wall landscape lighting looking its best.