How to Build a Stone Wall for an English Garden

This is our method on how to build a stone wall as part of an English Country Garden construction.

build a stone wall

Using stone:

This is very much Dependent on the type of stone. It could be flat-like rocks made by sedimentary layers laid down over millennium, or more polygon shaped rocks (boulder like).

If you wish to build a stone wall it is important to note that flat rocks, should be laid horizontally – like brickwork but more randomly. Care should be taken to avoid vertical joints over the one below. Generally lay them with equal thickness joints, although do not rigidly stick to this. Usually the stone is of different thickness so picking through the batch first to sort into general common sizes is, we have found, the best practice.

This is time consuming but worth the effort in the long run. If it is a straight wall then set up a brickwork line for the direction only– you almost certainly will not be able to lay this stone in level courses as per bricks, although the line will be useful for finishing the wall top.

As always, a good foundation is essential – again ground conditions dictate how much concrete needs to go underneath (heavy clay soil needs more groundwork for example).

A good Tip for garden walls on banks/hillsides: 

Get hold of some 3-inch galvanized scaffold poles, the longer the better, and drive them with a sledge hammer (see ‘Tools Needed‘ section) coupled with a strong assistant, into the center of your foundation trench at 1 M intervals; leaving the top so it is embedded halfway into the concrete strip.

This will go a long way to strengthen your wall – in effect piling under the structure.

Make your concrete cement mix 4-to-1 ballast/cement. Compact it down with a hand tool (as always) to expel any air.

Usually the mix for stone walls is 3 or 4-to-1 soft(builders) sand/cement.

We like to have a mix of 2 soft sand, 1 course sharp sand, 1 cement – for stone walls. This gives the mix some body for laying the larger rocks and stops them squeezing-out and grounding down.

Picking up and examining each rock as you lay it is very important, this is because getting the best aspect of each piece combines to a good result in the end and work done by a person who has built a stone wall this way is always noticeable!

As always, stop, walk back from the project at regular intervals and have a good look and if something does not look right then it probably is not!

The easiest method for Pointing is recessed with a finger-tuck trowel and fine bush – letting the mix go off till it is crumbly.

If building a retaining wall then include some wall ties in the work. Build-in drainage pipes for groundwater at a low level (as can be seen below), back-fill behind the wall with concrete for a thickness of around 9 inches. This, in turn, will make the wall very strong. If needed add some r-bars in the concrete.

You now should have a good idea on how to build a stone wall… We hope that this is helpful!

build a stone wall


(c) Copyright 2013, Mark Cook, All Rights Reserved. Written For:

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