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retaining wall project - stone selection and cutting questions

retaining wall project - stone selection and cutting questions

Old 04-10-10, 05:56 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Question retaining wall project - stone selection and cutting questions

Im thinking of using flag stone for a small retaining wall in my flower beds at the front of the house. I like the rustic look. Ive found a few good sample photos by searching. Does anyone have any they would like to share? Especially if they are using cap stones.

I havent decided on the type/source of stone yet. I seen some today at home depot, but I plan to look at my local garden supply.

So now Im getting around to thinking about how Im going to cut the cap stones in order to follow the curves of the beds. I dont really need ultra-clean precise fit, so Im wondering if I can get away with scoring/breaking the cap stones (as well as the blocks) in the shape I need. Someone has mentioned to me that the cap stones should be cut with a masonry blade on my circular saw. Ive never cut stone before, so im wondering how much trouble I really want to go to just for the retaining wall.

Can a masonry blade on a circular saw cut through cap stones that are say 2 inches thick?

Now that Ive typed all the above, I just found a photo that really appeals to me, its even more "rustic" which I really like.
Rustic Retaining Wall | Jacobs Landscape & Snow Removal, LLC
Old 04-11-10, 08:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North of Boston
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Hi Bitshift:

I've built dry stacked limestone retaining walls at several houses that look like the one in your picture. We like the rustic look also.

Let me give you my opinion on the questions you raise:

1) As to where you could buy the stones, it depends on where you live and the height/length of what you want to build. I've always needed a lot of stone so I bought mine by the truckload(s) from local wholesale supplier. My experience indicates that garden centers (including the big box stores) are the most expensive, but you can usually be assured of a consistent supply of the same stone. See if you can find local places that sell sand, gravel, rock, pavers, for a better price.

2) Because we were going for the rustic look, I never used formal cap stones. I just selected good candidates as I was building the wall. I noticed that the picture didn't have specific cap stones.

3) I always did my stone cutting with hammer and chisel. It will give you the look you want. Leave the diamond saw stuff for a formal wall.

A few other comments:

a) When you are shopping factor in how you'll transport all that stone. If you are planning to use a car, plan on many trips or replacing your shocks.

b) If you are in a cold climate, plan on footings for your wall if it is over two feet. What ever your climate is, prepare a wide, level, compacted base below your first course of stone. This will keep your wall looking good for many years.

c) Plan for adequate drainage behind the wall. I always used gravel held in place with landscape fabric to keep heavy rain from washing the dirt out.

d) Stagger the joints so that a full stone sits above the joint on the course below. This makes the wall stronger.

e) Have plenty of asprin for your back.


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