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Stone walls add texture, color, and a sense of history to a garden and can serve as retaining walls to create boundaries or add interest.
Stone walls are decorative or functional structures that add a sense of history and permanency to a landscape. A stone wall can be dry-stacked or built using mortar to hold the stones in place. A single freestanding wall is a unique way of adding visual interest to your property.
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Choosing a Stone Wall for Your Garden
Many landscape stone walls result from farmers removing stones from their fields to improve plowing. Holding a horse or oxen-drawn plow that bucks violently at every immovable obstacle is especially difficult. Our forefathers deserve some respect.
Even today, building a stone wall is hard work, but if done well, the wall will endure a lifetime, if not several generations. Below is a list of 7 common types of stone walls:
- Dumped Stone Walls
- Mosaic Walls
- Stone Veneer Walls
- Fieldstone Walls
- Flagstone Walls
- Shaped Stone Walls
- Mortared Stone Walls
Let’s go through each one in some detail
1. Dumped Stone Wall
The reference to our forefathers plowing the fallow ground with handheld plows and having to carry every stone to the border of the land is an example of dumped walls. Dumped walls are also used to divert or slow water.
The piled stones form natural gaps allowing some water to flow through while still creating a damming effect.
Tossed walls are generally more expansive at the bottom, and stones are stacked on each other in a random format. The strength of projected walls, commonly found in New England, lies in the width of the base, and tossed walls are not generally as wide as they are high. Dumped stone walls, projected walls, and farmer’s walls are all synonyms for a freestanding wall.
2. Mosaic Wall
Mosiac stone walls remind me of Tetris, the classical dropping blocks game where the objective is fitting various square-shaped blocks to complete a horizontal line. A mosaic wall is a work of art, adding a sense of class and order to a landscaping project.
I’m not referring to the mosaic patterns or images formed using small pieces of colored stone, glass, or ceramic fixed in place by plaster/mortar covering a surface. As beautiful as these can be, they were more popular as floor and wall decoration in the Ancient Roman civilization.
A mosaic wall combines square and rectangle-shaped rocks, generally sandstone or limestone. The shape of each rock fits perfectly with all the adjacent stones of different sizes and square shapes. It differs from mosaic art as the whole stone wall forms the pattern, not only the surface, as in a veneer wall.
The beauty of mosaic walls is that they are dry-laid stone walls perfectly packed, relying on the flat surface of the adjacent stones for support. A combination of different stone colors can add further intrigue.
3. Stone Veneer Wall
Stones are heavy and costly to move. Several houses and boundary walls look like they are exquisitely crafted from stone but are built from concrete blocks cleverly covered by a thin layer of shaped stones.
Varieties include cut stone, flat stone, woodstone, and weathered stone, creating a product that would be hard to replicate with a stone-laid wall. Several of the quality stone veneers look like dry-laid walls.
4. Fieldstone Wall
As the name implies, a fieldstone is a rock recovered from a field and has spent centuries under the ground. Fieldstones can result from sedimentation or changes in ice- or water flow, depending on where they’re sourced.
Several are round, indicating that they were rolled in flowing water, and others are flatter due to millennia of sedimentation and compaction. The latter is ideal for a fieldstone wall; round fieldstone generally needs mortar added to build a wall.
You can buy fieldstone (your great-grandaddy will be shocked), and several stores sell freshly broken fieldstone.
Stacking rounded fieldstone on barriers can help reduce erosion. There must be a concrete layer into which the fieldstones and different types of stone are embedded. The pitch of the retaining wall is essential, with a less acute angle being more effective at slowing water.
The added other stones should not create a flatter surface. The idea is to maximize the obstacles in flowing water, continually breaking its speed and force. Too many different types of stone will allow a lower layer of stagnant water and a destructive top layer.
5. Flagstone Wall
Flagstone pathways have remained in vogue for decades, but flagstone walls are returning after popularity in the sixties-seventies. Flagstone is a product of sedimentation, usually in areas with standing water centuries ago.
Slasto is ideal as a veneer because its tensile strength is limited and crumbles if packed as a flat stone flagstone wall.
6. Shaped Stone Wall
Stonemasons built several older stately buildings, harvesting rocks and shaping them using fire, water, chisels, hammers, and even stone saws. The craft is less common, but if you feel up to the challenge of building a laid wall, I take my hat off to you.
There’s a fascinating video on YouTube about modern quarrying methods that you may want to watch to know what it takes to get your granite-top kitchen in place. Granite is a solid (abundant) material, and granite pool edging can add enormous value to your landscape.
7. Mortared Stone Wall
To prevent shifting, freestanding mortared walls require a sturdy, frost-proof footing, which involves much excavating in cold climes.
I like to lay stones in mortar because a mortar wall has more strength, which is essential if the wall acts as a seat or holds back earth. I place the rocks in a dark gray mortar to keep the dry-laid effect and then clean the joints.
Request assistance from a stone yard in determining how much material you’ll require, and have it delivered as close to the site as possible. Once completed, you will have a rock-solid retaining wall without needing hefty mortar lines.
FAQs on Stunning Stone Walls for Your Garden
A freestanding wall perpendicular to your pool can serve as a mantle to add some copper pots for a genuinely rustic cum classic look. You can do the same with one side of a patio, creating space to hang plants and display vibrant pots.
The possibilities are endless, and an easy solution is a mortared wall.
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