Building a natural stone retaining wall is a great way to add aesthetic value and functionality to your home. The process of building a retaining wall can be quite complicated, but it does not have to be. Follow these steps for an easy way to build a natural stone retaining wall:
1) Determine the size and shape of the retaining wall that you want to build. Make sure that you leave enough room for the soil underneath your new retaining wall so that it does not fall in on itself.
2) Excavate the ground around where you want your new retaining wall to be built. This will allow room for pouring concrete into place before laying down rock slabs on top of it.
3) Pour concrete into place according to manufacturer instructions so that there is at least one inch of concrete covering all areas where rocks will be placed later on down the road when building a natural stone retaining wall.
4) Allow concrete mixture time (about 24 hours) before placing any rocks onto top surface layers during the construction process.
Stone retaining walls are a popular addition to any home or commercial property. They offer a great way to add value and beauty to your property while also being functional. While they can be quite expensive if you hire someone else to build them, you can also save money by doing it yourself. If you like the idea of creating your own stone wall but don’t know where to start or how much it will cost, this article will help answer those questions and more.
What is A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
A natural stone retaining wall is a wall that is built to hold back the earth from a slope. This type of wall can be used for a variety of things, such as holding back earth in your yard at the top of a hill, where it would otherwise cause problems with erosion and other issues. A natural stone retaining wall will allow you to have a usable space below often used for gardening or landscaping purposes.
Uses of A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
- Retaining walls are structures that hold back earth, preventing it from moving downhill. They can be used to create level areas for building on slopes and are often used to contain water.
- Retaining walls add beauty to the landscape.
Steps involved in Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
- Dig a trench in the ground and lay out rows of large stones.
- Add a layer of smaller stones called “capstones” to secure larger stones and improve stability.
- Mix mortar, and apply it on top of larger stone according to your design plans (dry stack method; no mortar between layers). Place middle rows in dry stack fashion without mortar between them until the wall is finished at desired height or you run out of money/patience/both.
Select your stones.
The first step of the process is to select your stones. Although there are many factors that go into choosing the right stone, it’s important to keep in mind that each should be uniform in size, shape, and texture.
The second step of the process is to select a layout for your wall, based on how wide you want it to be and how tall you want it to be. Then mark out where each stone will go by measuring from one end of the wall until you reach the other end of your wall (or however long you wish). This way we can see where all our pieces will fit.
Dig a trench.
This is the boring part of building a retaining wall, but it’s also the most important. Start by measuring out your wall length and marking the spot with stakes and string. Then dig a trench 6 inches deep along your marked area using a shovel or pickax (you can rent these at any hardware store). You’ll want to be sure that you remove all of the dirt from this trench you don’t want any rocks or roots obstructing where your stones will fit into place later on.
When you finish digging, check that everything is level by placing a level across two sides of your trench. Make sure they are level.
Arrange the first row of stones.
The first row is the longest and most important part of your wall. You should use large, flat stones to start because they will help create a solid foundation for your structure.
Using mortar mix or sand and cement, apply glue to the surface of each stone where it will meet another stone. This helps bind the stones together so that there are no cracks or gaps between them later on in construction.
When building a natural stone retaining wall from scratch, it’s best to have all of your materials within reach while working so that you can grab what you need without having to stop and go back inside for anything else.
It’s also important not just to follow instructions but also to know why those instructions are being followed a good understanding of how things work will make future projects easier.
Add a layer of smaller stones.
Once your larger rocks are secured in place, it’s time to add a layer of smaller stones. These will fill in any gaps left between the larger boulders and help make your wall look more natural.
When building a natural stone retaining wall with this method, you should use smaller rocks to fill in the gaps between larger boulders. This helps create an uneven surface that looks more like natural rock formations than man-made walls.
Mix the mortar.
If you have a mortar mixer, mixing the mortar by hand can be done in less than 15 minutes. If not, it’s best to let your contractor or mason do this step for you.
The first step is to add an equal amount of sand and Portland cement to a wheelbarrow. Then add water until it reaches a consistency that resembles thick peanut butter. As soon as you’ve mixed the ingredients together, apply them evenly across all surfaces of your retaining wall with a trowel and let dry overnight before continuing onto phase two: placing stones on top of this new layer of dry mortar
Apply the mortar to the larger stones.
This step will be a bit messy, so make sure you have plenty of rags and old clothes to clean up with. You’ll apply the mortar with a trowel, making sure it’s mixed well beforehand. Apply a thin layer of mortar to the base of each stone, then lay it in place on top of the bedrock. Use your level to check that the stones are level before tapping them into place with your rubber mallet.
Add middle rows of large stones in a dry stack fashion, with no mortar between them.
The first row of large stones is dry stacked. You will not be using any mortar or concrete between these stones. The second row of larger stones will be dry stacked as well, but you will use mortar to fill in the gaps between them.
The third and fourth rows are built like this: You place a layer of sand along the bottom of each stone. Then you lay your first stone on top, pressing it down firmly into the sand so that it makes contact with both sides of the wall below it. Then you can continue to add more stones until they reach their full height, making sure that they lay flat against each other without any gaps or spaces between them.
As you build higher into your wall, make sure that each new course has its own bedding layer to keep everything stable throughout construction.
Use smaller rocks to fill gaps and level the surface of the wall.
Now that your wall is built, you will likely need to add smaller rocks to fill gaps and level the surface of the wall. Use a trowel to apply mortar over these areas and press down firmly on them with your hand. Then use a level or straightedge to make sure the wall is straight.
Once the mortar has dried for about 24 hours, use a brush or broom handle to clean any excess mortar from the face of your stone retaining wall.
Cover with gravel to improve drainage.
After the base is in place, you need to make sure that it’s porous and has good drainage. Cover the surface of your wall with gravel (we used 1″ minus crushed stone), which will help improve drainage and keep moisture from pooling on top of your wall.
Gravel can be used to fill in gaps between stones, or even level out a sloping grade on which you’re building your retaining wall. It also covers up any exposed dirt or vegetation, so you won’t have to deal with weeds growing through your stones.
Costs of Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
The cost of building a natural stone retaining wall can vary depending on the size and type of stone used. You can buy stone in bulk at a discount if you’ve got the time and space to store it until you need it, but be prepared for some heavy lifting. If the thought of lifting even one piece of rock is overwhelming, consider hiring a mason to build your wall for you. This will set you back quite a bit more than doing it yourself, but if money isn’t an issue for your landscaping project as long as it looks nice (and we all know how important that is), then by all means hire someone else to do this job for you.
Materials needed for Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
Materials needed for Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall:
- Stone: It’s best to use granite or limestone, but you can also use sandstone or other hard rock that won’t crack when it gets wet.
- Cement: This is the glue that holds everything together. You’ll need about 5 pounds per cubic foot of stone, so if you’re building an 8-foot tall wall with a base of 3 feet by 2 feet wide, then multiply those numbers (12 x 12 = 144). If your piece is going to be square instead of rectangular, divide that number by four instead (9 x 9 = 81) and round up if necessary (82).
Tools needed for Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
Before you start building your wall, here are the tools and materials you will need to get started:
- Shovels and spades
- Pickaxes (optional)
- Wheelbarrow or cart for transporting materials from place to place
- Trowel for smoothing mortar and mortar joints (you can also use a large plastic putty knife)
- Level for making sure that everything is level as it goes up in height
- Concrete mixer and hoses if you are using pre-mixed concrete bags
- Hammer for driving nails when attaching metal reinforcement wire mesh to stone blocks
- Chisel or heavy-duty nail punch tool to cut metal reinforcement wire mesh into smaller pieces if necessary.
- Hacksaw or metal cutting blade on reciprocating saw with long reach attachment so that you can cut out any custom shapes needed in your retaining wall design
Costs of Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
While the overall cost of building a natural stone retaining wall will depend on your materials and labor, you can expect to pay around $25-$50/square foot. This is a relatively large investment, but one that will be well worth it in the long term. In addition to labor and materials costs, you should also consider insurance coverage for the job. A permit may also be required based on local zoning laws or ordinances. You should also take time to research any other expenses that may arise during construction such as equipment rental fees or waste disposal costs (because these can add up quickly).
Maintenance tips for Building A Natural Stone Retaining Wall
You will have to deal with weeds. They will grow right up through the stones, especially if you’re not watering your plants regularly. Weed control is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a natural stone retaining wall. Add mulch around your base plants, and keep an eye on them for any signs that something’s out of whack; if you see a weed starting to pop up through the stones, pull it out immediately.
Building a retaining wall yourself is cheaper than hiring someone else for it and can be fun.
Building a retaining wall yourself is cheaper than hiring someone else for it and can be fun. If you’re looking to save some money and have the time, building a retaining wall might be something you want to consider.
You can learn new skills like:
- how to build with natural stone
- how to build a retaining wall
- how to use power tools (make sure you are properly insured before using these)
A natural stone retaining wall is a great addition to any home, and it’s one of the best investments you can make in your property. It adds beauty, privacy, security, and value while providing utility for years to come.