Do you want to build a natural stone retaining wall? A natural stone retaining wall is the answer if you have a sloped yard and want to create a terraced section. The wall will retain the soil to prevent erosion, but it will also help develop areas of practical flat ground. Plus, stone walls built without mortar create lots of crevices to plant. A word of caution, though, make sure your wall doesn’t exceed 600mm in height. 600mm is the maximum allowed for DIYers to tackle. Beyond this, you’ll need a DA and landscaping professionals to get involved. So, read on to find out how to build a dry stacked natural stone retaining wall.
Building a Dry Stacked Natural Stone Retaining Wall
Firstly, to calculate how much stone you’ll need, multiple the height by the depth by the length. So, a wall 600 high by 400 deep by 5000 long will require 1.2 cubic metres of stone. Secondly, when selecting the rock, look for rocks with flat surfaces. Don’t worry too much about the depth of the rocks because the backfill will obscure any differences. Next, have the quarry deliver them and unload them as near as possible to your stone wall site. You’re nearly ready!
What Tools Will I Need?
Assuming you’re not getting into any stonemasonry, the tools you’ll need are simple. Start by getting a good shovel. A good tip is to buy one with a long handle. This means you won’t have to break your back using it. Next, you’ll need a mattock to tackle the slope. A pickaxe will do, but a mattock will shift more dirt per swing. Also, a small sledgehammer helps tamp down the soil. Lastly, you’ll need a few things to mark out the site. So, a long spirit level and some string and tall stakes. Building a natural stone retaining wall is hands-on and organic, but it still needs to be level.
So, you have your stone and tools, and you’ve marked out the site—time to start digging. The best technique is called cut and fill. Basically, as you dig away the face of the slope, you spread the dirt evenly at your feet. This creates a level terrace. Once you’ve removed enough earth and a trench has been levelled, ready for the stone wall, it’s time to start the base layer or course. The base is the most crucial course. It’s what will determine the stability of the entire wall. With this in mind, base courses are usually no less than 500mm deep. From here, start carefully stacking the stone layers. Try each stone until it feels secure. In reality, you’ll try several different stones each time to create a good fit.
Feel the Base
Once the base course is complete, it’s time to backfill between the wall and the cut away slope. Use a mix of soil and small stones and gravel. Shovel it in and pack it into the gaps in the rocks with the handle of the sledgehammer. Next, repeat the process but set each layer back by about 25mm. Setting back will give the wall more stability. Finally, cap the wall with large flat-topped stones, and it’ll make a great place to sit and relax!
If you’re considering a stone retaining wall for your property, chat to the team at Sole Structural Landscaping today.