The Stress-Reducing Power of Concrete Bag Retaining Wall

Exteriors / June 30, 2021

Have you ever heard about something called the concrete bag retaining wall? More and more people are getting interested in this supporting structure, mainly because of the ease of building it. They call it a stress-reducing option for creating a supporting structure for the ground.

Yes, easy-building is one of the most significant key points that you can find in this retaining wall type. Even if you do not have advanced building skills, as long as you know how to build it correctly, we are sure that you can create it.

This post will share with you all the facts and ideas about concrete bag retaining walls. Reading this further will tell you all the things you must know about this structure just if you are interested in building a stress-free retaining wall that will never give you a headache.

1. What Is Concrete Bag Retaining Wall?

Just like the name, it is a retaining wall that is made from concrete bags. The remarkable thing about it is that the way to build it is as simple as stacking each unopened bag on top of each other until they all form a wall. However, it is not the same as the conventional retaining wall in which different materials like blocks and stones might be needed.

In some cases, reinforced bars are needed to make this type of retaining structure stronger and steadier. If that is so, a professional job is commonly necessary.

From the function point of view, it works the same with other retaining walls, which is a supporting structure. It helps keep soil in place to avoid inclines, erosions, or a building from collapse.

Based on the function, retaining walls like this are often found in residential areas with multiple levels. In some cases, it is used for intentionally creating leveling necessary in a landscape.

2. The Type of Concrete Bags to Choose for Building the Retaining Wall

If being asked about the type of concrete bag to use in creating the wall, although you can choose anything you want, you must know that the most excellent choice is the one that comes with a degradable bag.

Of course, there is a reason why this selection is considered the most excellent. It is related to the fact that the concrete bags are not opened while building the retaining wall.

With the degradable characteristic, especially when it is biodegradable, creating the wall is way simpler. After all the steps are done, you just need to leave the concrete bags to degrade little by little from time to time until it shows the unique retaining wall appearance, which more or less looks like the one you see in the picture.

3. How to Build a Retaining Wall from Concrete Bags?

As we already told you initially, the main point of building this retaining wall is by stacking the unopened concrete bags until it reaches the necessary length and height. If that is so, do you just stack the bags in any way you like? Of course not.

You need to make sure that the wall is strong enough to hold the pressure and weight of the soil. That is why, if you wish to get such an excellent final result, there are several steps that you must do, as you can read in the following.

1. Flat-Leveling the Location Where The Wall Will Be Built

You must not skip this very first step because it is crucial. If the ground is not evenly flat before you build the retaining wall, there is a chance for the structure to easily collapse in the future, which is such a waste.

In this process, the tool that you need is a shovel. However, if the area is way more significant, it will be very tiring to use a shovel only. It would be more effective if you use something bigger like a tractor. It will definitely save your time and energy in this process.

The most important thing that you must keep in mind is to make sure that the ground is completely level. This will reduce the possibility of collapsing in the future.

2. Creating the First Level of Concrete Bags

The following way to build up this retaining wall type is by creating level by level of concrete bags until you get the height you need. The next thing you must do here is making the first level first in the location where you want the wall to stand.

Please remember, in this step, you MUST leave the concrete bags unopened. You just need to lay them down directly on the ground that you have prepared earlier.

As a matter of fact, using unopened concrete bags like this is the main idea in building this retaining wall. This is also the reason why the process is called simple and very easy to do.

3. Laying Down The Next Levels of Concrete Bags

When you are done with the first level of concrete bags, you can move on to the second level and so on. One thing that you must know is that there is a specific way to do it.

You can start by placing the center of the first concrete bag of the second level right above the meeting point between every two sacks in the first level. If you want to imagine it, it looks quite the same as the pattern arrangement of a traditional brick wall. The difference is that no mortar is necessary here.

This kind of arrangement is an important thing that you must not forget. It is another thing that can prevent the retaining wall from easily collapsing.

When done with the second level, you can go on doing the same step to the following layers until you reach the height you want. As a note, you can add extra strength to the structure by shifting the bags in each level approximately 0.5 up to 1 inch toward the ground that you want to retain.

4. Adding Extra Reinforcement

If you wish to give the structure even more strength, such as when you think that the land is not steady or believe that there is a bigger chance for the wall to collapse quickly, extra reinforcement is needed. The way to add it is by driving rebar into each concrete bag from the top level.

5. Spraying The Bags with Water

This next step is another crucial step that you must do thoroughly. It is making the concrete bags wet by spraying them with a hose.

The critical point of this step is ensuring that you soak all the bags properly. It is something that will affect the quality and strength of the retaining wall later.

6. Let The Concrete Bags Completely Dry

This step may take up to two days to finish. Everything depends on how large and tall the retaining wall is. Besides, weather can also be another defining factor.

7. Letting The Bags Degrade

The last but not most minor step that you can do after you are sure that all the concrete is cured is waiting for the bags to degrade to see the final, permanent result. Some people are patient enough to let everything happen naturally. However, if you are not one of them, you can simply peel the paper bags or burn them off to get a faster result.

4. The Pros and Cons of Retaining Wall from Concrete Bags

No matter how excellent a concrete bag retaining wall may sound, you must know that there is always the good and bad side of it. Now that you already know all the related facts about it, it is time for you to know further about the pros and cons.

Since we already explained some possibly related points previously, we will simplify this time by listing all the most essential points, as you can see in the following.


  • Simple
  • Budget-friendly
  • Suitable for a DIY project
  • Suitable for residential needs or even something bigger, such as flood and erosion control


  • The larger and taller retaining wall needs extra time and energy, including also more compatible tools and devices, such as a tractor.
  • Building mistakes can possibly make the wall easily collapse in the future.
  • Driving the rebars into the concrete bags (when necessary) can be a tough job, especially if you have never done it before.

5. Some Retaining Walls Ideas with Unopened Concrete Bags as the Primary Material

The last but not least thing that we want to share with you before closing this post is retaining wall projects using unopened concrete bags as the primary materials. We do hope that the ideas will give you some inspiration before starting your own project. To make everything complete, we will include some product information too.

1. Sakrete Concrete Bags for Creating Embankment in Sloppy Riverside Area

The first idea comes from this large retaining wall project. The structure is needed here because the riverside is sloppy.

This is how the upper part of the retaining wall looks like. You can create something like this when you think that the ground above the retaining wall is not steady.

FYI, the product used in this project is Sakrete Rip Rap. This is a good one for retaining walls from concrete bags because you do not need to mix anything; you can directly use it for building the structure.

Another thing that makes it an excellent product for the project is that it comes with a biodegradable kraft bag. Lastly, it gives a uniform look that can enhance the aesthetic value of your retaining wall.

2. Vertical Sakrete Bags Retaining Wall

Here is another idea of using Sakrete Rip Rap concrete bags for building a retaining wall. The difference between this one and the previous one is that the structure here is vertical.

The concrete bags you see in the picture are already wetted. If you look closely, it seems that no rebars are used in this project.

3. Rounded Backyard Retaining Wall from Quickrete Concrete Mix Bags

The design of a retaining wall from concrete bags should not always be straight. If you want to, you can create something unique like the rounded style that you can see in the photo. However, you must make sure that it can still make the structure serves its function to support the ground.

The product used in photo: Quickrete Concrete Mix.
This product is often used in rip rap projects and erosion control. Of course, retaining walls are included too.

4. The Project of Creating Steps and Water Tunnel Retaining Walls from Concrete Bags

In this idea, retaining walls from concrete bags is not the only thing included. As you can see, there is a water tunnel there too.

There are at least two things that we found interesting from this project. The first is that the concrete bags here look like they are being repackaged into new degradable bags with the desired sizing, which is very possible if you want a specific final look.

The second is the fact that the concrete bags are also used for creating the steps. Something like this structure will definitely look unique when done.

5. Sakrete High-Strength Concrete Mix for Residential Retaining Wall

Here is an example of the creation of retaining walls from concrete bags for residential use. However, it is not a project done by the homeowner but by a contractor named Robert Burton.

The product that is used in this project is Sakrete High-Strength Concrete Mix. It is used to create a 9-level retaining wall with a straight design, as shown in the picture. Something like this is quite simple to make.

6. Large Concrete Bags Retaining Wall Behind a Residence

This one is also a retaining wall from concrete bags that are found in a residential area. Besides the fact that it is pretty tall, you can also see that it supports a slope.

The interesting detail that you can find in this idea is that the shape is not fixed. It follows the shape of the land. It even made to fit the fact that some trees exist on site too.

7. Riverside Steps with Quickrete Concrete Retaining Wall

This last but not slightest idea that we found is not less interesting. It uses the combination of retaining walls from concrete bags and actual concrete steps to get a result, which is not only to function but also a beautiful look.

This gorgeous work is the creation of Waterfront Solutions. The product used here is Quickrete Rip Rap.

Here is a closer look at the project. The visual here shows the final result of the project after the bags are soaked with water and left to dry after.


A concrete bag retaining wall is a really interesting project that can be done by both homeowners and contractors or large-scale builders. The simplicity and budget-friendly characteristics are the ones that gain people’s interest especially. It is so stress-free.

You must remember that although we mention that creating a retaining wall from concrete bags is relatively easy to do, you still must not do it on your own if you are not sure about it. The possible consequence that you will get if you force yourself is the chance for the structure to collapse so that in the end, you just waste all the materials.

In that case, there is a suggestion that we suggest. It is by hiring a builder or a contractor to do the project for you. It may cost you more money, but the investment value in it is way more worth considering.

Another thing that we suggest you think about before building a retaining wall from concrete is drainage. A structure like this is often made in a sloped land, which commonly collects rainwater.

If you do not add a good drainage system in the retaining wall design, once the water is accumulated and large enough, it can cause some cracks or even possibly fail because of the tremendous pressure from the water. If you do not want any of those, please carefully consider the options such as granular soil, weep holes, or perforated drainage pipes, needed by the retaining wall system.