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Construction of a Stone Fence

Walls of stone are symbolic. In addition to being attractive and long-lasting, it is impossible to picture the countryside without them. They have existed for hundreds of years to hold livestock and set boundaries, but they remain extremely helpful tools in your yard.


So if you are interested in building a stone wall around your garden, this is the right place for you.


Nowadays stone walls continue to play their part in livestock management, however, they are far more diverse. They can serve as showcases and doorways, as a supporting wall to prevent erosion, or as a patio garden on a hillside. You can also create nice and robust flowerbeds made of stone.

Stone walls withstand the ravages of time



Over time, stone walls can prove their worth and add significant value to your home. Here we give you some tutorials to assist you in choosing the kind of wall you would like to make, as well as explaining what you need to do to construct a simple stone wall.

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Different kinds of stone walls


  • Tossed walls are the spacious paddock walls, that often resemble Ireland. During farm work, peasants used to toss stones into the fencing to construct a wall.
  • Laid walls can be more efficiently arranged than tossed walls. Stones are put and secured (no mortar is needed) to create a well-ordered wall. These walls are found throughout the south and are commonly known as “slave walls”. Also called dry stack walls.
  • Curved flagstone walls are a common choice to mark a courtyard or a backyard kitchen. They also create attractive and dynamic flowerbeds made from stone.
  • Mortar stone walls are perfect as supporting walls since they are sufficiently solid to keep the ground back.
  • Stacked block walls are constructed of mortar concrete bricks. The walls are more formal and give a courtyard look.

What kind of stone


So many kinds of stone and rock to select from. Check out all the things that are happening on your land. Perhaps you have a lot of field stones or stream stones. Various kinds of rock are more suitable for various purposes. Some rocks are made to fulfill specific functions, like joining together for a supporting wall.

Benefits and issues of dry-stone walls


Drywalls are walls that are constructed with no wet mortar, and they have a number of benefits. They are somewhat simpler and more cost-effective to construct because one step is omitted. A dry stone wall can include a lot of rocks of various sizes and usually matches nicely with the stones you will find on the land. The difficulty is that it’s just like a puzzle attempting to fit pieces together. You are dependent on the gravity of the earth and rubbing between the pieces to keep them stuck together.

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Benefits and issues of wet walls


Wet walls are constructed using wet mortar. The primary benefit is that the mortar sets the stones to each other and provides additional strength to the construction. It may have a somewhat more official look or be designed in such a manner so that the mortar is not seen to allow it to run smoothly.The drawback is that it takes more time and is costlier to construct.

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How to make a stone fence?


Stone walls demand a little of planning. You have to choose what type of wall you wish and what kind of stone you would like to use. Perhaps you have a huge pile of stones that you have done when plowing the fields. Unless you have a great number of stones on your plot, a visit to the local stone quarry or gardening store is a must. That’s going to make it easier for you to gain a clear picture of exactly what you want to use.

  1. Lay out your footprint.
  2. The first step is the layout where you will place the wall. Make sure that the wall does not cross any water or sewage pipes. Use a piece of rope to mark out the base area, paying particular attention to angles or curves. These areas require a little more structural finesse.

  3. Prepare the base.
  4. Your next step is to dig a trench. The trench is an important element that gives your wall a solid foundation so that it won’t slip or fall over so easily. Underground water in the form of frost heave is extremely strong, and a good foundation will help your wall avoid the problems associated with frost heave.
    For a short wall under about 20 feet, you can dig the trench by hand. For a long wall, you may need to rent or hire an excavator.
    The width of your trench should be six inches wider than the stones you use. This will help keep your wall stable.
    Dig a trench that lies under the frost line and that is 2 feet broader than the wall. Your trench must be below the frost line. If you are in a northern area of the country, you can discuss the depth with your local extension office or the district building authority.
    Because the frost line is deeper in northern areas, your trench may need to be up to 18 inches deep. This will affect how much gravel you need to purchase. Fill your trench with gravel for two-thirds of the distance.
    In southern states, your trench should be at least six inches deep. Lay it out with landscape cloth that overlaps 12 inches at the joints, then add a 6-inch sheet of 3⁄4-inch stone and stamp it with a slab compactor. Fill the trench with four inches of gravel.

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Tamp down the gravel

Now it’s time to tamp the gravel. You may use a manual or electrical tamper. Compact the gravel until the material becomes tight and dense. Ensure that the gravel is flat since this is the foundation of your wall.

Continue by adding layers and tamping until the base is approximately 8 inches lower than the incline. Approximately one foot beyond each end of a straight section of the wall, drive-in two stakes spaced apart by a space corresponding to the width of the wall.

Add a stone

Now you can start adding the stones. Place them so that they touch each other. Make sure that the stones are horizontal and add gravel if necessary. Build up a whole layer (row) of stones.
Use a torpedo level or string to control the sides and from front to back. If you use field stones, select the largest stones for the course. Then go back inside and fill up with smaller stones.
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Add Drainage

Figuring out the drainage is an essential stage if you wish to find out how to build a stone wall. If your dry stone wall is less than 3 feet, it is possible to omit this stage. If not, after laying the first layer of stones, simply add a drainage tube that is broader than the wall. The surplus should stick out to allow the pipe to flow into the yard.
Place the drainage tube at the back of the wall with the holes facing down towards the ground. Coat the tube with gravel. In order to maintain the pipe clean, spread out a sheet of cloth to cover the floor.

Add more stones

Now it’s about time to throw in an additional line of stones. Set the stones dry and ensure that they are solid and good-looking before you add a mortar. Ensure that the vertical seams are offset to make sure your wall is sturdy.
You would like the stones to be laid staggered to prevent the joints from overlapping. This might mean that you need to cut a stone or select a smaller stone.
Apply a coat of mortar to the first stone layer. Put the mortar in the center and away from the borders of the stone. This will give your wall a more authentic appearance. If mortar starts to swell, then use your ladle to trim it off.
When laying every stone, tap it with a hammer to guarantee a proper fit. Use a spirit level to ensure that you have achieved a flat surface.
Stone cutting

If you have to cut a stone, a diamond blade wet saw will trim the stone smoothly and quickly. You may also use manual devices like a three-inch carbide chisel, a three-pound sledgehammer, and naturally protective goggles. Be sure to keep your eyes protected when cutting stone.
If you are going to use manual tools, you must first select the stone you are going to cut. Put the stone down in a way that the part that you are not going to use faces the ground.
Aim the chisel lightly towards the ground and strike once using the hammer. Then place the chisel in such a way that it is half above the recess you recently made and half above the new stone. Hit with the chisel again.
Continue to work around the stone until it starts to separate.
It may take a bit of time and exercise to work around the stone. Begin small and easy and progress to bigger tasks. Your achievements are definitely worth the time and energy.

What’s the difference between brick walls and dry stone walls?


A brick wall is made up of uniform piles of regular blocks kept in place with a type of gritty glue, known as mortar. A dry-stone wall is a lot closer to nature: it’s a little bit more than a vertical pile of rocks that are put together gently and accurately in such a way that they close up together just with their natural mass. Brick walls require mortar to hold them in place as they tend to reach high up into the air (for instance as part of a house). In contrast, dry-stone walls are primarily used for fencing off livestock or as markers on the borders of a yard, meaning that they seldom have to be more than 1-1.5 meters (3.5-5 ft.) high. If you choose the stones accurately and put them close to each other in a very smart way, then you can create a really solid structure that is totally self-sustaining. In addition to being magnificent in appearance, it offers outstanding protection for animals and living space for cliff plants (like moss and lichen) as well as the various types of bugs they attract.


How to build a stone wall with mortar?


Mortar stone walls require a concrete foundation to protect them from cracks caused by frost heave. Since a mortar wall is generally heavier than drywall of the same size, local building codes often prescribe specifications that affect the foundations for mortar walls. Many regulations prescribe the use of rebars. Check this before construction.
A mortared wall must be built on a solid foundation, otherwise, its joints will crack. Dig a trench that is about 6 inches wider than your wall. It must be deeper than the frost line, or at least 12 inches deep for a 3-foot high wall. Crush the gravel into the bottom of the trench and pour at least 8 inches of concrete. Fill the concrete 2 inches below the bottom of the trench. Have the stone delivered as close as possible to your construction site. Allow enough time for the project. The stonework is a matter of constant trial and error to determine which combination of stones works best.

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How to build a freestanding stone wall?


Although it takes a lot of skill to build a near-perfect wall, building a good, strong wall is within reach for most people who like to do things themselves. The following rules are applicable to almost all dry stone wall projects. Always remember that your goal is to maximize the friction between the stones.

  1. Position the length of the stone in the wall
    In other words, the end of each brick will be the part that is visible in the finished wall. This means that the length of each brick is perpendicular to the line of the wall. Imagine firewood stacked with each piece perpendicular to the overall orientation of the stack so that you can only see the edges of the pieces. This is how a stone wall must be built.
    If the bricks are placed on the wall so that the sides are visible, a much weaker wall is created, called a tracing. Tracing is one of the most common mistakes and is a key factor in the collapse of walls.
  2. Cross the joints
    This means that each stone should cross a joint below it so that it rests on two stones below it. What should not be done is to stack the stones in such a way that vertical joints are created, running from one layer to the next. Such joints are called running joints or stacking joints. Walls with running joints are very weak and look bad.
  3. Build with the plane of the wall
    This means aligning the stones so that they are evenly level with the surfaces of the wall. Cord lines are particularly useful to create a level plane to the wall. The outermost “bump” of each stone is what should be in a line. This way the wall will look smooth and even. This is true both in cross-section and in each layer. It is easy to get out of the plane by building with the front of the stones below the wall, instead of following the guide cords and always aligning the outer bumps of each stone. These are the basic rules of wall building. If these rules are followed, your walls should be strong and beautiful. There are many other techniques that can make your wall even stronger, and features that can be built in for different purposes and situations.
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How to Build Mortared Stone Walls


Step 1:Dry laying of the first stone layer

Draw a chalk line on the top of the base to outline the stone wall. The wall should be centered on the base, and the base should extend 6 to 12 inches beyond the base of the wall on all sides.
Use the largest and heaviest bricks and apply the first layer of the wall within the outline dry on the base. These large stones in the first layer are called “base stones”. At the ends, the individual stones should extend over the entire width of the wall if possible. These end or “lead stones” are crucial for the strength and stability of the wall, and they should have straight surfaces and square corners. If possible, there should be a similar anchor stone that spans the width of the wall approximately every three feet along the length of the wall.
Usually, the length of the wall is made up of two rows of capstones placed parallel to each other, occasionally with a gap in between, stuffed with rubble or other filling material. The anchor blocks interrupt the rows of capstones and are placed perpendicular to them so that they extend from one side of the wall to the opposite side. Their purpose is to reinforce the lateral strength of the wall and prevent the two surfaces from separating.
Once you have achieved an acceptable layout for the first layer, lay all the blocks directly from the foundation, keeping them arranged in the same layout.

Step 2: Cut stones where needed

Sometimes it is possible to arrange the stones in a way that only a few or no stones have to be cut. Usually, it is necessary to cut a few stones to create a tight fit on each track. For do-it-yourselfers, this is best done with a circular saw equipped with a diamond-tipped stonemason’s blade. Cutting stones is a very noisy and dusty process, so you should wear hearing protection, eye protection, and a dust mask during this work.

Step 3: Set the first course of the stone

Mix a large batch of Type N or Type S mortar and trowel an even 2-inch layer of mortar over the foundation within the outline. Start on one side of the wall outline and position the bricks for the first layer. Continue to position the bricks in the mortar to complete the first layer. Check regularly with a long spirit level to ensure that the layer remains level. If necessary, you can tap stones into the mortar to obtain a level surface.
When all the stones for the first course are in place, close off any spaces between the stones using a ladle with mortar. If the gaps between the bricks are wider than 2 inches, they may be filled using a mix of rubble, gravel, and mortar. Once the gaps are packed, scratch-off (“rake”) the excess mortar with a 2×4 piece and then brush the joints with a brush. If mortar has stained the surfaces of stones, wash them with a wet sponge.
This first layer must dry for a full 24 hours to form a solid base for the subsequent layers. While drying, establish cord guidelines as a reference for building the rest of the wall.

Step 4: Install additional stone courses

Repeat steps 3 and 4, dry installation, and laying of the following layers on a mortar bed, if necessary with the cutting of stones. Try to achieve a “running bond” laying, avoiding vertical joints that are directly in line with a joint below. At the ends of the wall, the alternating layers should have full-width lead bricks that span the entire width of the wall. These serve as connecting bricks to hold the wall together. Each layer should have additional anchoring stones that extend across the entire width of the wall from one side to the other, arranged approximately every three meters along the length of the wall. This will help to strengthen the wall and prevent the two rows of opposing bricks from separating.

Step 5: Washing the wall

Let the mortar of the wall harden for a whole week and then wash the surface of the stones with a mixture of hydrochloric acid and water. First, thoroughly moisten the wall and then apply the acid solution. Then spray the wall immediately. This will remove all mortar residue on the stones.

Conclusion


There is a certain charm about a stone wall that gives a sense of timeless stability: after all, it is as far back in history as the architecture is. Be it the very first thing your guests notice, a discreet feature in the backyard, or the ideal finishing touch to an English garden, stone designs cannot resist making a statement that is rich in significance and history.
Hopefully, you’ve got all the necessary information for the stone fence building by yourself. If you already tried to do it on your own, tell us about your personal experience in the comment section below.

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