The principle of soil nailing consists in installing reinforcements in the form of bars (soil nails) into the natural soil in order to increase the tensile and shear strength of the ground. This creates a monolithic compound structure whose load-bearing behaviour is similar to that of a gravity retaining wall loaded by external forces.

Typical uses include securing terraces or slope cuts and excavations and the stabilising of existing slopes and dams. The use as rock nails is a special application.