garden stone retaining wall

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Hi,
Iam thinking of putting a 2' tall garden stone retaining wall in my back yard. Probably for 15' long, approximately 1/3 of the backyard width. My backyard is higher than the front yard. Iam in a rolling slope. And thinking of filling this with whatever good and cheap and make it look like a patio or flower bed or a water fall.
Any good site on the web to improve my imagination, and make it a possiblility? I would like to get more suggestions and what will be a good plan to improve the property value and turn something sore to the eye into beautiful. My thinking is to DIY a granite stone wall with no mortar, but wife is afraid of snake and other creatures making it a home.
Appreciate any adivise or directions.
Sam.
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There are many good books on landscaping and garden structures at bookstores and home improvement centers. You might browse some of them for ideas. I think the snake thing is irrational. If you don't have snakes now, I doubt that they will be a problem in the future. Of course most snakes are harmless to people and beneficial in controlling rodents and insect pests.
There are morterless retaining wall blocks of various sizes and colors available at home improvement centers. You can look here: http://www.pavestone.com/retail / http://www.allanblock.on.ca/products.html http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=DIY+retaining+wall
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snipped-for-privacy@freeddns.org (sams) writes:

hmmmm... you could use a recessed morter technique to have the dry stack look without earth access for critters to tuck in. (depending on the depth of the hole they might still hunker down in the wall.)
lining the soil side of the wall with heavy duty lanscaping fabric/diamond mesh might accomplish the same thing.
--
be safe.
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yard.
I've done several of those and found them very satisfying. In my case I used the natural stones lying around, of which I had many. Never had a problem with snakes living in them (but then here in Eastern Ontario snakes aren't very scary) but rodents do find them handy.
You can help to stabilize them by spreading them out on the ground before installation and spending some time eyeballing them for a good fit. It takes a while but you can come up with impressive results without mortar.
Good luck.
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Yes, the DRY STONE WALL, no mortar, is quite a wonderful thing. a book which shows actual pictures of how these walls are built, (each face of the wall slopes to the center---hard to describe, easy to diagram) would be the way to go. Mortar is comparatively recent in this scheme of things; HUGE structures were made without it.
hermine stover
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On Tue, 11 Nov 2003 01:51:50 GMT, hermine stover
At great cost and with craftsman, hardly a comparison for half assed concrete blocks!
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On Mon, 10 Nov 2003 18:08:50 -0800, Tom Jaszewski

I was not suggesting Stonehenge or Easter Island stone heads; nor had the idea of concrete blocks, half or whole-assed, even enter'd my mnd! i was just encouraging the lad to build a dry stone wall! i was not even referencing those charming stone beehives one finds all over Eire!
check this out: http://www.stoneline.ch/english/drystone.php hermine stover
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You mean - like pyramids?? I've climbed over some of the oldest known pyramids down in central Mexico, and it'd be more than I'd want to tackle in a week. ;-)
Tom J
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hermine stover wrote:

But without mortar, old walls were built with carefully dressed stones. The joints were so perfect, not even a knife blade could be inserted. And the walls were quite thick since only gravity kept them from falling.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
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that IS one kind of mortarless construction, but the USA is full of dry stone walls made of local harvested ROCKS, which were cheap, being free for the taking, and then selected to fit together with a minimum of dressing with tools. they are very rustic, or, some might say, crude, but they look very natural in the landscape, and really, aside from the labour, (which is good for a person) they are not that difficult to make. some folks consider them very important as regards historic structures in the USA. and we have an accounting here of a Missouri stone wall put together over time by a person's Auntie! who was not represented as a stone mason.
snipped-for-privacy@endangeredspecies.com
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hermine stover wrote:

However, my reply was to a rference to a message that claimed: "Mortar is comparatively recent in this scheme of things; HUGE structures were made without it." [Original writer's emphasis on "HUGE", not mine.] Yes, boundary walls are often made without mortar or precise dressing. However, I cannot picture someone's auntie bulding the Great Wall of China without at least dressed stones. And remember what is the subject of this thread.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
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> was not represented as a stone mason.

gardens.. but then walls are a part of many gardens... no, aunt ethyl was not a stone mason, just a stubborn little lady who worked in a shoe factory, was raising 6 children at the time and wanted 'something better' and worked her but off trying to create it. and she made the best danged gooseberry pie you could ever imagine. and, bless her heart, she couldn't afford morter! ....but..she had a LOT of rocks! and i might add.. balls!! garbonzos! even if she was a lady. may she rest in peace.. : ) lee h
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wrote:

I agree with David. I mentioned to a friend, experienced in bricklaying and many other construction projects, that I thought it would be nice to have a retaining wall between lawn and sidewalk because of a difficult-to-mow 15" slope -- just a border to the lawn and an 16" wall on on the sidewalk side. He explained to me the weights and pressures involved, and I caught his drift. And have seen many similar structures in the neighborhood gradually bulge and decay. Freestanding, unmortered stone walls last for centuries (don't people replace stones from time to time?), but *not* when there's constant stress/weight on one side -- i.e., "retaining."
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I forgot to mention cheating. a person could install rebar or other kinds of iron reinforcement, pounding it into the earth, or even setting it in a small underground concrete pour, and THEN pile the stones without mortar against it. you could even throw some wired-in-place horizontal reinforcements in there. I have no idea how much heaving there is, how much earth movement, and even mortared stone walls will lose their integrity and fall down if there is enough earth movement. i was just speaking on behalf of dry stone walls EVERYWHERE, which have persisted for centuries, with and without the occasional repair.
now, if you are using natural stones, do not expect mortar to glue them together when you have heaving, earthquakes, and are building on swampy land.
But that is just ME, i would not abandon an idea just because everyone told me what a terrible idea it is.
hermine
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In my experience with dry retaining walls the most important thing to remember is drainage behind the wall. Moisture and freeze or just weight from the water is this down fall of most walls. as far as dry stacked walls go check these out http://www.pennsylvaniabluestone.com/johnson/projects / We are known ( this area northeastern Pa. USA)for some of the nicest dry stacked walls any where. Trees and roots also bulge a wall but if there is proper drainge on a retaining wall and the stones are large enough or stacked correctly no problem should develope in any climate. I will try to get some pics of real large retaining walls dry stacked in this area that have not budged an inch in well over a century or more. Repairing these wall from damge from auto moblies and machinery or moving them to make way for roadways. These walls with the best drainage with stood the test of time.

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Bill,
Have your guys done work down near Washington, Virginia by chance?
Dave

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No Dave. As a matter of fact this work http://www.pennsylvaniabluestone.com/johnson/projects / was done by a man named Joe Spola . We supply stone for walls and flagstone from our quarries. But this guy is a master stone mason.The serpentine wall has a marble race through Three pipes allow you to race marbles down it interior to the bottom . check out the pics. Its pretty cool..

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There is a superb, and I do mean superb, stone wall surrounding the headquarters of BET (Black Entertainment) down there, which I drive by from time to time. The work is just unimpeachable, and looked quite similar to a few of your examples. Thanks,
Dave

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snipped-for-privacy@freeddns.org (sams) wrote in message

Snakes and wasps can be a problem unless the joints between the stones are extremely tight. Dressing granite to get that close a fit would be a huge task.
J. Del Col
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snipped-for-privacy@freeddns.org (sams) wrote in message

I've used stacking bricks & ritzier stackable stones to create garden barriers & in one long spot a cliff wall where was formerly a slope. They never shift, they do exactly what they're supposed to without being cemented in. A neighbor made a major earth-retaining wall out of stacking-bricks about head-high, & this seems pretty stable too, despite the unusual height, but when I looked at it I had to admit it looked tacky. It looked like some amateur with no finer option stacked some blocks bought at Lowe's or Home Depot. He'd even installed one of those black moulded fish ponds, looked about as natural as some kids' plastic wading pool. All the guy needed to complete the effect would be some plastic flowers stuck in the cracks of the wall, & a chorus line of garden-trolls around the pond.
-paghat the ratgirl
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