In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover How to build a sandstone block retaining wall, including the techniques for making cuts in the sandstone blocks and how to level and tamp the walls. Finally, we’ll discuss how to plant your garden plants on your sandstone block retaining wall. Hopefully, this guide will help you achieve a professional-looking wall that will look great for years to come.
Step-by-step instructions for building a retaining wall with sandstone blocks
There are several steps involved in building a retaining wall with sanstone blocks. First, dig a trench. Dig the first layer of stones so that they fit tightly together and have a level surface. Next, lay a piece of landscape fabric in the trench and add the second layer of stones, staggered. Continue building until the wall reaches the height you want.
First, you should lay the first course of retaining walls. You must ensure that the blocks are level and that the sides and fronts of each are parallel to each other. You can use a level tool to check the alignment of the first course of blocks. Once you’ve laid the first course, you can start building the second course of the wall. For a more professional looking retaining wall, use a running bond pattern. This pattern allows the stones to be laid in a slightly offset manner. This is more stable and attractive than straight stacking.
To build the first layer, you should use a level object to get rid of excess soil. You can also place a layer of bedding material on the lower sides of the blocks. After the first layer, apply a layer of construction adhesive. Next, add a layer of blocks, staggered from each other. Apply backfill between the blocks to reinforce the wall.
To build a retaining wall, you need a base. A base of six inches is recommended, but you can use four or even a single-inch base if necessary. Taller walls may need a building permit or an engineer’s design. So, if you’re unsure of where to dig, check with your local building department.
The first course of blocks should be leveled before proceeding to the second. If the first course is off-level, the rest of the wall will be lopsided. To check if the gravel layer is level, use a four-foot carpenter’s level. Any discrepancies will show up higher up the wall. Once the wall is level, stack the blocks at a slight backward slope.
Techniques for making cuts in sandstone blocks
Professionals have many techniques for making cuts in sandstone blocks. These include cutting mitres, which are customary cuts between two blocks. Many homeowners, however, simply cut the wall caps at the corners, creating a gap at the back of the stone. Cutting mitres is not as difficult as it may seem, and you can easily do it yourself. You’ll need some materials, including wall caps, a brick saw, and safety gear.
First, you will need drainage gravel. This is used to fill the space between the wall and slope. It is recommended to use drainage gravel, and it is important to make sure the edges of the stonework are level. Then, you’ll need to cut 1/2 inch-wide pieces of pvc pipe and install them in the mortar joints between the stones. After installing the drainage gravel, make sure to backfill the topmost course of the wall.
After sandstone blocks have been laid, you should make the first row of blocks level. The blocks should be even and flat, as this will provide the most structural support. To create a uniform look, use a scrap piece of lumber or a rake to level the soil underneath. If the soil is very sandy, you can use a piece of wood as a screed.
Next, lay the second course of stones using the same techniques as the first two. Use a half-inch batter, and make sure to offset the joints. Make sure the front faces of the stones are positioned at least half an inch back from the first course. This creates a slight stair-step pattern, which will help the wall resist forces that cause it to slope. A small flat rock may be used as a shim to prevent the wall from wobbling.
Lastly, sandstone blocks for a retaining wall can be cut with a masonry chisel and mallet. A diamond-bladed masonry saw is better for making clean, straight cuts. A masonry saw is similar to a wet tile saw, and can be rented at a rental center. Regardless of which technique you choose, be sure to wear safety glasses and sturdy hands.
Leveling and tamping a sandstone block retaining wall
First of all, level and tamp the base layer of a sandstone block retaining fence. If your retaining wall is small, you can use a mallet to tap each block into place. A small level can also be used to check for level. Next, add 3/4″ of drainage gravel and tamp it down with a plate compactor or hand tamper. Once you’ve completed the first layer, apply caulking or construction adhesive to the lowermost three blocks.
The next step is to backfill the soil to the level of the final row of retaining wall blocks. You can backfill it with crushed gravel or landscape fabric to prevent the soil from sinking. When the gravel has dried, cover the gravel with topsoil until the finished level reaches the top edge of the retaining wall. Once the topsoil has dried, the finished level of the wall may drop, but it will rise again after the rain.
Once the soil is ready, level and tamp the blocks before installing them on the wall. If the wall is tall, use a perforated drain pipe to aid drainage behind the retaining wall. Ensure that the gravel slopes away from the wall by 1″ for every 4 feet. Once the top course is leveled and tamped, the next two courses should lean towards the hillside against which the retaining wall will be built. Building backwards slants the walls, which counteracts gravity.
You can also tamp and level sandstone block retaining walls by using a hammer. You can use a rubber mallet to tamp the top face of the wall to achieve a smooth finish. Alternatively, you can use a line level or string between stakes. Regardless of what type of retaining wall you choose, be sure to follow the steps in the construction process carefully and firmly.
If you have built a retaining wall, you should consider the installation process and tamping it. The proper installation and drainage will ensure the wall will be functional and long-lasting. It is very important to keep in mind that these retaining walls will need maintenance and repairs. Stacking stones, for example, must be re-fitted after a few years, and concrete may need to be patched. This can end up costing you more money than the actual cost of the wall itself.
Planting plants on a sandstone block retaining wall
One way to add natural beauty to a stone wall is to plant plants between the rows of stones. Planting on a rough stone wall automatically creates gaps large enough for planting. For cut stone walls, however, make sure to plan for plantable gaps, which need not be large. However, the gaps should not be too large so as not to affect the integrity of the wall. Cascading plants, like creeping thyme and annual white alyssum, can be planted between the rocks.
Climbing plants will cover the wall’s surface, so you’ll want to choose a variety that will not spread too much. However, you’ll also want to avoid overplanting, since the stone will look ruined by the excess moisture. Planting prolific spreaders and plants that reseed themselves are also not the best choice for a stone wall. Don’t try to grow baby’s tears, the California kudzu of living walls. This perennial vine grows quickly and can obliterate the wall within a season.
Clematis, or “the queen of climbers”, is a fantastic choice. It grows quickly and can cover a retaining wall without any trouble. Its white flowers, which come in different colors, look heavenly against the sandstone and stone. Another easy-to-grow plant is Helichrysum cymosum, which grows to a height of one meter. It has greyish-white branches covered in tiny yellow flowers.
When planting plants on a sandstone block, remember that native plants thrive in rocky soil and prevent soil erosion. Trees with evergreen branches can almost hide the retaining wall from view. However, be careful not to plant too many larger trees, as they tend to grow aggressively and can damage the walls. Another choice is American holly, which looks beautiful during the summer months and has red berries for winter decoration.
You can also plant shrubs and trees near the retaining wall. However, it is important to choose trees and shrubs that grow slowly and won’t have aggressive roots. Small flowering trees, such as golden rain tree, will do well near a retaining wall. Small trees, such as crape myrtles, can add a burst of green. Besides adding color, they can also soften the surrounding area.