DRY STONE WALLS

Dry stone walls are walls where the stones are carefully fitted together without any adhesive mortar. Dry stone is one of the oldest construction techniques in the world.

 

The process is thought to have begun when stones were unearthed by farmers’ plowing the fields who then stacked them up around the property to act as a fence.  They served to mark the property lines, kept intruders out and livestock in.

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"Through stones" which are essentially long stones placed approximately halfway up the wall, spaced at three foot intervals tie both faces together. Joints follow a two over one, one over two pattern, which assures each stone fits tight against its neighbor. If these basic principles are followed your wall can actually tighten up and get stronger over time.

Because Dry Stone Walls are built without mortar, they are both flexible, and naturally draining. They can be built on compacted subsoil, or a bed of crushed stone. Correctly built walls have an inward tilt, or "batter". That is, the bottom is wider than the top. They have two sides, or "faces" which are built with the stones length laid into the wall, the center is carefully packed with smaller stones, or "hearting", which helps give the wall it's strength. 

I tend to work with whatever I can put my grubby little hands on. So the stone I get isn't always the best to build with. I like to push the issue though. This takes practice, and patience. I have more of the former than the latter. Before I attempt a "new to me" technique for a customer, I'll attempt it on my own using whatever's available.

This "practice" arch worked out pretty well. It stood for quite a while, until a tractor trailer backed into it. It twisted a bit, dropped a few stones, but still stood strong. I dismantled it, and moved on to the next project, mission accomplished.

A lot of times you don't  need a wall. A rock garden will do just fine.

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This stone filled median strip is a case of problem solving. It was built as a walkable solution to mitigate an erosion problem.