Once a difference in grade has been identified in the design process, the decision must be made to construct a slope or a retaining wall. If adequate space exists, consider a slope. A retaining wall is required if adequate space is not available. Maximum slope steepness is dictated by the quality of fill soil available and whether or not the slope will be protected with riprap to eliminate the need for mowing and other maintenance.

Consider the following criteria in choosing a retaining wall: cut or fill determination, constructibility, and aesthetics.

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The first step in wall selection is to determine whether a wall will be built in a cut or fill situation. Use fill type walls in fill situations. While fill walls can be built in cuts, the 8 opposite is not true for all cut walls. The construction of fill walls in cuts requires additional excavation behind the face of wall and, possibly, temporary shoring.
For fill walls built in cuts, the cost of the wall, excavation, and shoring can exceed the cost of a more suitable cut wall. Wall conditions that determine wall type selection are fill condition, cut/fill condition, and cut condition.

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