Creating a Retaining Wall

Reference Number: KB-00990
Last Modified: July 21, 2021

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite


I have sloped terrain in my plan and need to hold it back with a wall. How can I do this?

Outdoor fireplace against retaining wall with seating


Use the Retaining Wall tool to easily place retaining walls in your terrain. Retaining walls are automatically drawn with footings and a terrain break, which creates a sharp drop in the terrain along the wall. 

To create a retaining wall 

  1. To add a retaining wall, your plan must first have a Terrain Perimeter.

    • If it does not, you can add one quickly and easily by selecting Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter  from the menu. 

  2. If you have just created your Terrain Perimeter, you will not have any Elevation Lines placed, and if you insert a retaining wall into flat terrain, it will look like a concrete strip in 3D views.

    • The height of the retaining wall is determined by the elevation on each side.

    • By default, the retaining wall will follow the elevation of the terrain - cutting at the apex and the bottom.

  3. Select Terrain> Elevation Data> Elevation Line  and draw several elevation lines. Note that an elevation line drawn near the end of another will cause them to merge.

  4. Now that we have placed some elevation lines, click the Select Objects  button, select an elevation line, and click on the Open Object  edit button to open it for specification.

    • Values entered are in inches, unless the foot (') mark is added. Negative values should be preceded with a hyphen (-).

  5. Once you have set the appropriate values for your Elevation Line, click OK to save the changes and close the Elevation Line Specification dialog.

  6. Once you have a terrain perimeter and have specified your Elevation Lines, add a retaining wall by selecting Terrain> Terrain Wall and Curb> Straight Retaining Wall .

  7. When the Straight Retaining Wall  tool is active, your cursor will turn into a cross and you can click and drag to create a retaining wall.

  8. Once the retaining wall has been created, select Terrain> Build Terrain  to apply the changes to your terrain.

  9. Notice that the Elevation Lines are above and below the walls. No elevation lines are between the walls.

    Floor Plan view showing terrain perimeter, elevation lines and U-shaped retaining wall

  10. Lastly, to see the retaining wall, create a Full Camera  view.

    Camera view showing sloping terrain behind retaining wall and flat area inside of retaining walls

In Home Designer Pro, a retaining wall's height can be specified independent of the terrain by selecting and editing the wall in 3D views.

To change the height of a retaining wall in Home Designer Pro

  1. Open  the plan in which you would like to add a retaining wall, or create a new plan by selecting File> New Plan .

  2. To add a retaining wall, you must first have a terrain perimeter on your plan. From the menu, select Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter .

  3. Next, draw a retaining wall by selecting Terrain> Terrain Wall and Curb> Straight Retaining Wall  and then clicking and dragging in floor plan view.

  4. Select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation , and then click and drag the camera toward the retaining wall to create a cross section/elevation view of the retaining wall.

    Elevation view showing diamond and square edit handles around selected retaining wall

    • While a retaining wall can be edited in any 3D view, adjusting the height is often easiest and most accurately done in a Cross Section/Elevation view.

  5. Click on the wall near the top edge to select it and display its edit handles.

    • Notice the move handle in the center of the top edge, as well as the temporary dimension indicating the height.

    • Click on the Move  handle and drag the wall's top edge to the desired height.

  6. Use the Break Line  edit tool to place breaks along the top of the Retaining Wall in order to edit the wall to create a stepped retaining wall.

    Camera view showing completed step shape along top of sloping retaining wall