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Do-It-Yourself Stone Work

How To Build A Dry Stone Wall

Dry stone walls are beautiful, full of heritage and very strong. All dry-laid walls will flex with frost and it is one of their greatest assests. A well build dry-stone wall will work with natural processess rather than fighting against them. Good fence design ensures the fence will settle back in place rather than split apart or topple over. If you are considering building one and are looking for more in-depth instructions, please stop by our store to discuss your ideas or consider reading Building & Repairing Dry Stone Fences and Retaining Walls for further reading.

Tools and Materials:

Hammer, Folding Ruler, Carpenter's Level, Pick & Shovel, String Line, Selected Stone, Crushed Stone

First, Calculate the Amount of Stone Required

Determine the length, height, and depth of the wall in feet. If the wall is two feet high or less, build your wall about one foot deep. To assure a structurally sound wall higher than two feet, make sure the base of the wall is equal to half of the height. The finished wall should be deeper at the base than at the top. This is called having a batter. A good batter recipe is 1" in per 6" of height.

To use the calculator, please input the dimensions of your wall project and click submit. The form will return the number of tons of stone, which is the unit used for pricing and ordering stone.

Next Construct Your Wall:

Dig a trench about 12" wide or wider depending on the design of the wall. Be sure the trench is at least 3" deep for walls two feet and less, up to 6" deep for walls four feet high. No footing is required with dry stone walls.

Place your largest stone in the trench as tightly as possible. Lay all stones flat and level. If there is a slope to your wall, be sure to begin the wall at its lowest point of elevation.

As you begin to build your wall, be sure to avoid continuous horizontal and vertical joints. This type of joint is unsightly and less structurally sound.

Place the stones tightly together, and fill in behind your wall with dirt or gravel and compact it as you go.

As the wall rises in height, be sure to batter or slope back the wall no more than 2" for every foot of height. To batter the wall, stand level on end and measure the face of the wall or cut a template out of some plywood.

When building a dry stone wall that will retain a grade or sloped hill, be sure to use some of the stones as bond stones. This is accomplished by turning a long stone into the hill every now and then. This will help anchor and stabilize the wall for better durability.

For best appearance, save some of the nice flat stones to cap off the top of the wall.