toward the slope with the outward edge of the rim as the high point. A freestanding dry-stacked wall gets its strength from its structure, which is essentially a double-sided retaining wall. Instead of leaning into a slope, each side batters against the other which presses the stones together and holds the wall upright. On a recent landscaping project, the EHT staff was on site for con- struction of a patio, sidewalk and multi-tiered fire pit, in which dry- stack construction was used for multiple aspects of the project. Here’s a look at the basics of this popular construction method.
SIDEWALK RETAINER Retaining walls are commonly built on hillside lots to hold back the slope of the land, as seen on the lakeside lot of this landscaping project. This particular lot sloped in multiple directions, requiring one side of the sidewalk to be shored up as it routed downhill toward the water. Note: If you have a steep slope, you should consult a soil engineer
or landscape professional to help design a plan to handle drainage and mitigate erosion. Some local building codes require soil engi- neers to approve plans for retain- ing walls above 4 feet tall. First step in building a retaining wall is to excavate the ground in the rough shape you want the wall. On the project shown in the pho- tos, a short wall was built to border the downhill side of the sidewalk. In general, you want to dig into the face of the slope at the same angle that the wall will batter. Another option is to construct the retaining wall at the bottom of the slope and then fill behind it with gravel and soil. In some cases, site and soil conditions require a com- bination of both methods. Be sure to leave room behind the wall for drainage gravel. The wall shown was constructed of multiple stone courses, the last of which was covered with the final layer of surface pavers. The course of pavers was mortared onto the border wall and served as the cap- stone. After the wall was complet- ed, the bottom couple of wall
Working with natural stone requires shaping the stones as needed with a brick hammer.
This short retaining wall served as edging for a sidewalk. Each course is set in a bed of mortar.
Fill the void behind the wall with smaller drainage rock, gravel and soil.
Add mortar between each course and stagger the joints between courses to strengthen the wall.