Stone Retaining Walls
One of the very best ways that you can build a retaining wall is to build it with a dry-stack or dry-stone method. As a masonry contractor in the Seattle area for over 25 years, we have been involved in the construction of many dry-stack or dry-stack retaining walls. Here are some of the reasons that you would want to consider using a dry-stack retaining wall, over other methods of construction. We have an abundance of natural native stone that can be used to fit in with our natural landscape. Let's start with the cost of a dry-stone or dry-stack retaining wall. It's one of the strongest and most natural looking retaining walls. It needs no foundations under it and it's also one of the best value for the money. The reason for this is, almost every other type of retaining wall needs to be placed on a foundation. Building a foundation for a retaining wall can cost up to 30% more. So we have just saved about 30% of our cost for our retaining wall and it looks natural and beautiful too. How can it be one of the best and strongest retaining walls when it doesn't have a footing or foundation under it?
Dry-stack or dry-stone retaining walls have been built for thousands of years in almost every country in the world. Allot of them are still standing. The main reason for this is that they can flex and move with there natural surroundings. If we have an earthquake, a concrete retaining wall can crack or give way. The beauty of building a dry-stack or dry-stone retaining wall is, even if it was a massive earthquake, and a few of the stones came out, it would be quite easy to replace the retaining wall without rebuilding the entire wall. The next reason that a dry-stack stone retaining wall works well, is that even the strongest and best built retaining wall must let water pass through or around it or it will fail. For this reason, a good water release system is needed to reduce the hydrostatic pressure on the back side of the retaining wall. Every retaining wall should be installed with drainage behind it, this is done by placing a drain pipe behind the retaining wall at the base of the wall, next place gravel and a drain cloth over the pipe. This will let the water that builds up behind the wall run out and around the retaining wall. This is especially true if the wall is built from a concrete block or other non-pores materials. If you are using the dry-stack or dry-stone method of building a retaining wall, a drain pipe may not be needed as the whole wall will let water pass through it, very much like it would in nature, this is especially true in a smaller wall of less then 3 feet high.
If your retaining wall is quite small you might want to try your hand at it, but if you have a large area of soil to retain, or the retaining wall is higher then 3 feet then it would be a good idea to call a professional masonry contractor to plan and build your retaining wall. Some of the things that you would want to consider are, what type of rock or stone would look best in that location? Or what shapes and color would go best? We build garden walls that need to hold our raised beds and plantings, with stone steps and walkways running through them. We may terrace a small bank of soil so as to soften the lines or place a soft rolling inside curve in the wall for extra strength and beauty. At times a buttress is needed to hold an outside curve. This is a great place to include an extra large boulder in the stone wall design along with a planting or small tree. A set of stone steps that run up and through the dry-stack stone wall can also act as a strong buttress as well as provide access to the upper part of your property. Make sure to offset the steps at each level. It will create a little extra mystery if the way up is partially hidden. As with all dry laid stone walls and steps, they will be self-draining. They'll let the water pass through as well as slow down the speed of the water on its way downhill. With your plantings, and the dry-laid self-draining stone retaining wall and steps, you can have multiple benefits of stopping erosion on your terraces and hillsides. Creating a dry-stack stone wall that can live on for hundreds of years after us. Please take a moment and view our beautiful picture gallery.