The Basics of Building a Stone Retaining Wall

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Determine the dimensions of the wall and take the measurements. Select the appropriate material from the stone yard and get it delivered to your place. You will be needing materials such as a gravel, pre-mixed cement, fieldstone and granite slab steps and tools like measurement tape, hammer, shovel, mattock, chisel, torpedo level, tamper etc. for the construction. While selecting the stones make sure that you select stones that are angular in shape having sharp corners and are not rounded.
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Establish the front face of the wall and make use of stakes and strings to mark the length. Keeping in mind that it should be a straight line for a straight terrace.

For the stone wall to withstand the pressure applied against it, the first course of stone should be completely suppressed underneath, this can happen only if the trench is 10-12 inches deep and should be wide enough to hold the stones. Preferably go for the same width as the height.

Once you are done digging the area, tap down the floor of the trench with either a hand tap or compactor. The goal of building a stone retaining wall is to contain the soil as there will always be a lateral force pushing against it. Strong foundations are therefore necessary for the structure to hold. For walls requiring more than three courses of stone, the first course should be buried completely inside while for walls requiring less than three courses of stone, the first course should be partially buried, atleast 2-3 inches into the ground.

After taping the floor of the trench, you are ready to put in the base. For a small wall all you need for a sufficient base is 1 inch of coarse sand. Place sand in the trench and level it by smoothing it out. On the other hand tall walls need a rigid base almost 4 inches thick. For a rigid base use Pavestone Paver Base or prepare a 6:1 mixture of dry sand and cement making sure that it is well blended. Now fill the trench upto a depth of 4 inches and smooth out the base material.

Set the stones in the base by placing the stones side by side, leveling each stone in both direction. Once the base course is placed, set the next course by placing the stones in a staggered pattern making sure that each stone bridges the stones below it. To finish out the project backfill the wall with soil and compact.

Fine soils may wash through the joints from time to time. To prevent this, install a weed block by rolling it along the back of the wall before you backfill. Lay the top of the roll half way over the last row of stones and set the top layer on the wall. This will hold the fabric in place. It is also recommended that you glue the top stone with the row beneath using concrete adhesive from paint department to make the wall system more secure.