HOW TO BUILD A WALL
All you need is
a strong back and the proper wall construction technique
|Proper wall construction is very important since it will delay wall
failure as long as possible. I'm sure we've all seen bowed walls or
ones leaning outward, in the wrong direction. Even though most walls will have to be rebuilt at
some point in their lifetimes, due to natural forces such as the
freeze-thaw cycle and soil settling, proper wall construction
techniques will greatly prolong the life of a wall. High walls
require special engineering to ensure their strength and safety, and
may require a building permit from your local municipality if they
are over 4 feet tall.
Materials used for walls:
Constructing walls from odd-sized
natural stone is an art, especially when each stone needs to be cut
to a specific shape and size. Fortunately for the do-it-yourself crowd, there
are several products available today using standard sized wall
stones to help ease construction. That being said, most medium to
large wall stones are heavy, and require a heavy truck for delivery
and a strong back for construction.
The wall stones shown in the photos below weigh 59 pounds
each, with a full shipping pallet of 48 stones weighing close to 1-1/2 tons.
Ideally, you will find an area close to your construction project
and one that is close to your driveway, to ease access and delivery.
The pallets should be close, while not in the way.
For maximum wall strength use a 'running bond' alignment (like a
brick wall on a house). Cover joints between stones by placing wall
stones above them so they straddle the joint below. This
construction arrangement helps 'lock' the wall together. Avoid
lining up joints with one above another!
Use a brick hammer or hammer and stone chisel to cut wall stones.
Most precast products are pre-notched to aid basic cuts. More
complicated cuts can be made by scoring a stone completely along the
intended cut edge. Wear good quality safety goggles to protect your
eyes and alert bystanders to flying fragments. Rent a block splitter
cutoff saw for more precise cuts.
Many wall products have a built-in 'step back' in their design.
These stones have a 2-inch lip on the lower back edge which creates
the proper step back.
With other wall stone you may need to create step back, or what is
known as 'batter,' with the rule of thumb being a one-foot step back
for every four-feet of wall height. This 'leans' the wall into the
slope making it stronger.
Finishing your wall
Ensure there is good drainage behind your wall by adding more
granular fill along the back of the wall stones and in the joints,
prior to adding your topsoil mix.
Raised beds, like the one seen here, provide the perfect opportunity
to create a good soil mix for excellent growing conditions. In this
case, shredded topsoil was mixed with mushroom manure and 10-10-10
fertilizer. Other soil amendments might include compost, sharp sand
or peat moss. If your soil mix needs lime to raise the pH into the
proper range, this is the best time to mix in the lime. Reseed
damaged lawn areas as needed.
Now it's time to enjoy the