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Natural Stone Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are built to hold back soil/rock, to prevent erosion, and to give sloping land a vertical support. Natural stone is most commonly used for building retaining walls. This article explains what these walls are like, and takes you through the steps of constructing one yourself.
Gardenerdy Staff
Retaining walls are usually built to prevent/control soil erosion, manage downfall of water, or just for landscaping. These walls can be made from different materials like natural stones, concrete blocks, or boulders. They are basically used for structural purposes like leveling or giving height to a slope, preserving the grade of soil around a tree, or improving the outdoor landscape. There are various ideas for these walls like anchoring, gravity, cantilevered, soil nailing and many more.

Natural stone walls give the outdoor landscape a natural, classic, and timeless look. They are constructed from stones that are cut in proper shapes and stacked in a specific pattern without using any adhesive. This method is called the dry wall or dry stack stone retaining wall. Natural stones look good in any type of yard or garden. There is a wide variety of these stones and hence they are always a better option for retaining walls.

Instructions for Building

Building a retaining stone wall is quite a laborious job and requires engineering skills. The wall requires a lot of time to build if the area to be covered is large. For larger walls, one should always hire a professional. You can follow the steps given below if you want to build a small wall.

Step # 1: Before you start, check out the local construction codes to ensure that you do not break any laws. Walls with a height of 3 feet or less are usually allowed to be built.

Step # 2: Figure out where you want to install the wall. Then, order the number of stones and other materials you will require by measuring the length, width, and height of the wall you are planning to build. Remember that the width of the wall should be half of its height.

Step # 3: Selecting the stones to be used is an important job. Choose the ones that have flat surfaces. These flat surfaces are used as the base and the top when placed in the wall. Use heavier stones for a good strength.

Step # 4: Start digging the area. Dig a trench, and see that the width of the trench is a bit more than the width of the stones―or half the height of the wall. The depth of the trench should be about 10 inches so that the first layer of the wall occupies this area. The trench should be uniform in level.

Step # 5: Start laying the first layer of stones in the trench; this will act as the foundation. Tap the stones with a hammer to ensure that the first layer is at a uniform level. See that you use larger stones for this layer.

Step # 6: Lay the remaining layers of stones. To maintain the stability of the wall, it is necessary that the rows counter balance each other. Ensure that the stones interlock while placing them in rows. Check the level after placing each stone. Continue laying the stones until you obtain the desired height.

Step # 7: Now, it's time to fill the back of the wall with soil. Backfill is necessary to increase the strength of the wall and also to provide safety. Level the backfill properly.

Constructing retaining walls with natural stones can be done at home or by hiring an expert. These walls not only give an elegant beauty to your outdoors, but also help you to deal with weather conditions.
concrete brick retaining wall
Constructing retaining walls
large stone wall