Miscalculate your construction plans, and you could end up with a weak wall that risks bulging or, worse, collapsing altogether. For a … The heavier the stones, the more stability you have, but also the harder the work will be. As you reach the desired height of the wall, place the capstones on top. When the wall is complete, you can root plants into the larger gaps of the wall that bring life to the structure. If you’re looking to get your hands dirty and enhance your landscape with a retaining wall, these guidelines for building a retaining wall will help you get off to a good start. Make sure there is as little wobble as possible between each stone. Backfilling the space behind the blocks with crushed stone and then installing a flexible perforated drainpipe (available at The Home Depot), also called “drain tile,” at the base of the wall could create the necessary escape route for groundwater. You agree that BobVila.com may process your data in the manner described by our Privacy Policy. Angle the trench so that it inclines back slightly into the slope. Leave a gap of about 60cm alongside the wall for working. By the time your terrace is half its planned height, incorporate what are known as “deadmen.” In the case of stone retaining walls, the term refers to long stones laid perpendicularly across the wall, rather than parallel to all the other stones. Use enough mortar to fill the joints completely. After looking at a number of concrete block options, I decided to build mine with stones and mortar. It must be deeper than the frost line, or at least 12 inches deep for a 3-foot-high wall. In this article, we’re talking about “dry walls,” which is the type of wall that you build without using anything but some rocks and your labor – no mortar required. These step-by-step instructions are meant specifically for walls built of stone. See All The Steps. For a stacked-block retaining wall that’s no higher than four feet, a trench filled with three inches of crushed rock will help keep the wall from shifting and settling. COPYRIGHT ©2020, WATTERS GARDEN CENTER. Rebar Posts. The trench should be deeper than … Let the base coat dry and set for 24 hours and then start laying the stones horizontally. You have to be more fussy about the fit of the stones. Shorter retaining walls, however, can be constructed by enthusiastic do-it-yourselfers equipped with some basic construction knowledge. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Despite their simple appearance, though, these walls require a good deal of planning—sometimes professional engineering—to keep their shape. A dry wall can still last for centuries, however. Building a mortared stone wall is a great do it yourself project for the homeowner. These can determine whether their buried lines will be in the way and mark their exact locations. After laying a section, poke out mortar from between the stones to a depth of a half to three inches. Prepare a solid foundation, or base. Mo… A wall that leans into the soil it retains is less likely to be pushed outward by soil pressure than a plain-old vertical wall. Groundwater is the natural enemy of retaining walls. Set First Layer. Music - "Learn to Fly" by Josh Woodward. Brush water across each stone before applying the mortar. 1815 W. Iron Springs Road Like any other mortared wall, a mortared stone wall needs a foundation. Next, shovel dirt behind the stones and tamp the earth into the spaces between, behind, and beneath the … The key to building a wall using mortar is when you apply the mortar it needs to go evenly onto the run of stones that are set. Set Up a Level Line. You can use mortar to “glue” a freestanding stone wall together. To create a solid foundation, dig a trench for the first course of your interlocking retaining wall blocks to sit in, and make sure the ground remains even throughout.. For the best results, backfill with a few inches of the material after laying each course of blocks, and use a hand tamper to compact the material. The idea behind deadmen stones is to tie the structure into the slope in back of it for greater stability. Pack Mortar. Disclosure: BobVila.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The exact depth of the trench depends on the proposed height of the wall, but follow this rule of thumb: Dig a trench to be an eighth of the wall plus three inches. Building a mortared stone wall is more challenging in the winter. To avoid failure, make drainage provisions at the same time as you go about building the retaining wall. Choose stones that blend well together in color and texture. Check to ensure that the stones run level left to right. Take out the main stones and put the top ones furthest from the wall. Mortar adheres better to a clean, wet surface. I got tired of the hill washing down onto our driveway, so I decided to build a retaining wall. DO start with a good foundation. While you’re at it, do also place a call DigSafe (811), a nationwide service that will notify local utility companies that you plan to dig. You may have to submit plans for your wall and schedule a property inspection to ensure that building a retaining wall won’t create drainage problems. You should get a good variety of sizes. Use a mason’s hammer to knick off stone fragments so as to achieve a better fit where needed. Capstones are similar to the stones used in your top row, in that they should be flat and have significant mass. Use wood stakes and a mason's line to mark the location of the front face of the … How to do it. Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. Dig a trench about 8 -10 inches deep, so that the first course of stone will be fully or mostly submerged. Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center. In addition to stones, assemble the following supplies ahead of time: Garden plants help retain and solidify your new wall in place, and bring it alive. A retaining wall’s effect on the natural flow of water could impact your neighbors, so some communities require homeowners to obtain a permit before construction commences. Fixing the Mortar In a brick and mortar retaining wall, the bricks are secured together with a layer of mortar, which looks like a … These longer stones reach back into the slope so the weight of your garden soil helps stabilize the wall. If it doesn’t fit by the seventh try, use another stone. 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