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
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
all my neighbors have rebuilt their retaining walls multiple times
since I removed mine...
I'll send this by email to spare you reading more rants in the
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
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
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.
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.
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
- two stones on one, one stone on two (overlap the stones - no vertical
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
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