Retaining walls are built to stabilise and retain terraces, banks above and below paths and tracks, and other steep slopes where soil slump or rock slides may cause problems.
Stone hedges are free-standing stone-faced earth banks used as farm boundaries and stock fences. They are characteristic of South West England, Pembrokeshire, the coastal area of North West Wales, Anglesey and the Cumbrian coast. The techniques used in retaining walls and stone hedges are similar, but stone hedges have particular design features and variations. There are also intermediate types. In areas where stone hedges are traditional, retaining walls tend to be built to the same pattern of stonework as stone hedges, rather than to standard dry stone wall patterns.
Many retaining walls, stone hedges and some standard dry stone walls are finished with turf, instead of, or in addition to, coping stones. Turf tops are described towards the end of this chapter.