Building A Retaining Wall


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A stone wall creates division and balance in your landscape. First calculate how much stone you will need. This is done by taking the height times the length and then dividing this by 40 feet per ton. This will determine your requirements for material.

Preparing the site - If you have gentle or extreme sloping hill, then cut into the hill approximately two feet deeper than the front of the wall. Square this off where it looks like you are creating a staircase effect until you get to the level that you want the wall to start (lowest level). Be sure to take all of the soil that you have removed from this area and pile it behind where the wall would be.

Now when this is complete and you have outlined where the wall will run, start sorting the stone material by thickness and stack the material on edge approximately 3 foot in front of the walk, as to allow access to laying it. Be sure to sort from one end to the other according to thickness with thicker on one end to thinner on the other end.

Begin leveling the bottom of the hill by removing any high spots or filling any low spot at the based of the wall. Make sure and lay the stone with long courses of the same material. Lay one thicker piece within this course and now you will have a place to run another. Take the difference in the thicker rock and look for a combination of stone that will equal this thickness. Lay out the stone keeping in mind that the joint for these courses should overlap at the ends, similar to brick.

To ease any imperfections in the stone, lay a fine amount of dirt in the front edge of the stone, this will take up any variations in the stone, and also it will pitch the stone back into the wall. You will need 3" back at the foot of the wall to allow for frost movement. Continue this process only after each course has dirt pulled in behind it and packed. This will achieve a wider stone base to stabilize the wall. Do not stack the stone on top of each other and then fill in the dirt.

For trimming purposes use the stone chisel and hammer method for cutting. For taller walls over 3 'tall turn every 8th piece into the wall. This will serve as a dead man to help retain the wall. For the final course try to level everything out and then you may purchase a capstone for the top. Be sure to add 2" reveal on sizing of the cap.

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