Stone retaining walls

I'm terracing a small hillside with 2 retaining walls. Each wall will be about 2 - 2.5 feet high and there will be about 2-3 feet between them depending on my final design. It would be easy to buy those prefab stones that stack. But I'm thinking I'd prefer natural stone, like the nearby steps. They are stone veneer mortared over cinder block. One guy told me I could use 6x2 planks held in place with rebar, then veneer over that. But I don't know how that would be done specifically. I'm wondering what my options are for natural stone. If anyone has any web links I'd appreciate it.
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your local permit office will tell you about local construction requirements related to soil, foundations, drainage, and property line distances.
jeffc wrote:

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you are creating a lifetime maintence project:( been there done that:(
You are MUCH better off terracing the hill, perhaps adding a rock garden or some such, or dense ground cover.
walls just fall down no matter how well you build them.
I finally removewd most of mine and am gald I did!
I still have a terrace the drop is 9 feet or so. one long stretch of wall will go the next time it leans too much.
having removed perhaps 100 feet of walls between 2 homes its the only way to go.
I am a low maintence kinda person and near 50 dont plan on rebilding walls 30 years from now.
A nice terraced hill can look beautiful, costs less, and doesnt fall down.
all my neighbors have rebuilt their retaining walls multiple times since I removed mine...
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I'm not sure what you mean. I did terrace the hill.
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I'll send this by email to spare you reading more rants in the newsgroup.....
I've done a lot of stone walls over the years. I love the look and durability of stone, and since I live in the Granite State, it just makes sense.
I've done both manufactured block and natural stone. The block is easier to stack but the look of natural stone is much better. For 2 foot high walls, either will work fine, without much in the way of special drainage or support. It's at 4 feet or more you start to need extra thought.
First step: find a local stone yard that has lots to choose from, knows their products, and can give you advice on the hoof. I have two, and they are invaluable. For natural stone, choose a nice flatstone like Pennsylvania Blue, which I made a nice 18" high garden out of once. It stacks very easily. Just pick stones that fit together one at a time, and soon the wall is up. No rocket science at all. Block is just a little easier since every block fits perfectly.
The one key is: BASE PREPARATION! Make sure the base is flat and smooth, and has a couple of inches of either stone dust, composted granite, or mason's sand. that will give you a nice flat base to get your first course down. If the first course is crooked, the entire wall becomes even more crooked. For a 2-3 foot wall, plan to spend half your time getting the first course down right. The required tools are a 2 or 3 pound deadblow (rubber) mallet, a long level, and a good pair of gloves. Stringing up mason's line to keep your lines straight helps, but doing it by eye is just as good for a small natural wall. And dont be afraid to pound HARD with that mallet. Gotta show the stones who's boss! (But keep your thumbs out of the way, don't ask how I know!) Seriously, it will set the stones nicely, and help keep them level and straight. You can use a brick set (kind of a chisel on steroids) to reshape or trim either stones or blocks.
The last thing to think about is weight. Some of the stones/blocks are very heavy. I've seen (and used) ones that are 90 pounds. Trust me, that gets old fast, especially in July. My last two walls used 20 pound stones, which were much easier to handle all weekend.
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And by the way, I know that can't be true. There are walls that still look fine in this country that were built 200 hundred years ago.
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I don't have xray vision that can spot bedrock, but I can tell you that I've seen telephone/electric poles and fences leaning heavily in some areas and not at all in others.
It is obvious that some areas are in rapid transition and others are not in such a hurry.
Any wall in a rapid transition area will be destroyed in a few years.
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Very true. There are some stone walls here in CT that were built in the 1700's and they probably won't last more than another 75 years without repair.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Well, it sounds like you have a built-in niche market. There's nothing wrong with terracing, I personally prefer it most of the time, but if the current construction fails, improve the methods, don't abandon the attempt. If you need a taller retaining wall, it needs to be designed a bit differently, that's all.
The OP is planning on building a couple of walls two and a half feet tall. That's not rocket science, and is barely engineering. On a gravity retaining wall there are three rules: - don't fight gravity (if you have to batter the wall, do so) - allow for drainage behind the wall (gravel, filter fabric, drain tile, etc) - two stones on one, one stone on two (overlap the stones - no vertical seams).
R
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Well it looks like the 2 walls after terracing the dirt are going to be only 22-24" each. At this point I'm planning on using dry stack natural stone. I'd appreciate any good links related to drainage and tips for sorting the rock, etc.
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