How to Landscape With Stone Walls

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Stone walls add a nice rustic touch to every garden bed and fire pit and they are an attractive way to store excess soil from previous yard projects. Stone walls might even raise the value of your property, as they highlight the aesthetic appeal of your yard plants and other softscape (the general look of a green yard). Landscaping with stone can be in the form of fountains, columns, paths and patios. However, one of the landscaping basics is building a stone wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood stakes
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Stone material
  • Carpenter's leveling tool
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Chisel and hammer
  • Rulers/measuring tape
  • Plan out a design for your wall. This is probably the most important step, as poor planning can lead to an unsteady or unappealing wall. Use the stakes and string to lay out the basic design. Be sure to note hills, slopes or other dips in your landscape. This is also a good time to think about the height of your wall. 71soilanstone.com suggests making the top of the wall uneven to add appeal as a straight line might be plain. A four-foot tall wall is the average height.

  • Choose the type of stone you want to make up your wall. Keep in mind that weaker stones include limestone, shale and sandstone. These stones can split from the weight on top of them and should have a maximum length of three times their height. Harder stone like granite gneiss and marble can handle more weight and might be better for sloping landscapes. Clean all stones with a wire brush and spray with a garden hose before building with them.

  • Dig your foundational trench about eight inches deep. The trench should also be between two to three inches wider than the base of your wall. Make sure the bottom is even using a carpenter's leveling tool. If you are building down a slope, create a stair-step pattern that gradually follows the slope.

  • Transport some of your stones to your starting location. Collect various sizes and lengths of stone to experiment with. Begin by laying the heaviest, thickest stones at the bottom of the trench and gradually adding stones on top of those. Use the chisel and hammer to shape the wall and save the little pieces to fill in cracks and stabilize larger stones. Constantly measure the height and width of your wall as you build it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bend your knees instead of stooping down to pick up heavy rocks and other large objects to prevent back injury. Set aside some larger stones to use as the "cap stone," which is placed on top of the wall. This adds appeal and the extra weight can help stabilize it.
  • This project can be very time-consuming depending on how large your wall is. Hiring help to finish the job might be needed. Don't mix stone types in the same wall as the textures and colors of the stones can clash.

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