How to Build a Dry Stone Wall How to Build a Dry Stone Wall

What You'll Need
Stone Chisel
Crushed Screenings
Carpenters level
Wheelbarrow/Garden Cart
Back Support Belt
Heavy Duty Work Gloves

A Dry stone wall is a wall which uses very little mortar to hold the stones together and it's a self-supporting structure (using friction and gravity) provide the wall balance and durability. These walls are an irregularly beautiful and a relatively inexpensive way to add beauty to your backyard or garden or to give a boundary to your land. They can be used to offer an air of distinction to your house/land with a medieval yet naturally modern look.

Step 1: Make an Outline

Before you get down to building your wall, get permission from the local building authority so as to assure that no law forbids the construction of stone walls in your area. After that has been done, decide on the location of your wall. Once done with this decision, locate where you want your wall to be and formulate its boundary using string or chalk which will help you in the construction stages.

Step 2: Choose the Stone

Stones are available in three basic shapes: Stacking (flat stones), Field (round stones) or Dressed (Processed and Finished stones) There are also four types of stone: cornerstone, base stone, mixed stones and cap stones. Therefore, before you purchase the material for your stone wall it is mandatory that you determine the shape/type of stone that you shall require as per your aesthetic specifications and your construction expertise.

Step 3: Build the Trench

After the purchase, use a hammer and a stone chisel to adjust the size and shape of your stones (if and when required). Once the stones are ready, use a shovel or spade to build a trench which would serve as the base for your wall. The foundation should ideally be 8 inches deep and should be 3 inches wider than the dimensions of the proposed wall. Use crushed screenings to fill the trench and stage it to the ground floor using a carpenter’s level.

Step 4: Move the Stones to the Construction Site

Use a wheelbarrow or a garden cart to move the stones to the location of the wall. This step involves heavy lifting and to assure that you don’t hurt yourself see to it that you wear a back support belt and heavy duty work gloves while carrying it out.

Step 5: Formulate a Stable Structure

Form the wall using stones of all sizes so as to add an element of irregularity but see to it that large and heavier stones (called capstones) are placed on top so that they provide stability and durability. Mortar the capstones to stabilize and strengthen the entire wall. The placement of the stones should be such that many cover the complete width of the wall and when you place two stones together in one layer, see to it that you position one stone in the top layer right over the joint. Moreover, place relatively larger stone towards the corners of the wall, place a tie stone every 3 feet and use crushed screening in the gaps within the wall.


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