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Are you looking to add another dimension to your property with your own two hands? Dry stack rock or rubble stone walls add a great touch to flowerbeds and landscape projects. Fortunately, building one is easy enough that you can do it yourself!
- Lay out the wall area and direction. You may be cutting away a bank as can be seen in this project, or building the wall and back filling as you go, to create a terrace effect. Pull a string line the length of the wall (about 8 inches (20.5 cm) off the ground level) to define the front of the wall .
- Dig a ditch the length of the wall that is about a foot wide and 8 to 12 inches (20.5 cm - 30.5 cm) below the ground level. This ditch will act as the wall's footing and prevent the rocks from sliding forward due to pressure from the earth behind.
- Stack the larger rocks in the ditch. Place the flat side facing forward, and slanted back about 8 degrees. The rock should just miss touching the string line, and be supported by dirt filled in behind it. Do this the length of the wall, with each large rock touching the one next to it.
- Fill dirt behind the large rocks and tap the earth firmly, while letting the 8 degree slant hold the rock in place by gravity.
- Find complementary rocks to fill in the spaces in between the large rocks. These rocks may be smaller, but need to be a shape that fills the void between the large rocks. Lay the rock flat side out and support it with earth filled in behind it. These rocks also lay back by 8 degrees.
- Continue placing the second layer of rocks, so that spaces between the first layer of large rocks are filled. You can add water to the fill to make it settle.
- Square off the top of the wall with smaller stone to give it a neat, straight and flat appearance.
- Before you start this (or any other) digging project, call 811 if you're in the U.S. This is a new, federally-mandated national "Call Before You Dig" number. 811 was created to help protect people from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects. In other countries, many similar services have been set up. If in doubt, contact your local municipality for details and assistance.
- You can overfill the void with dirt and then tap the rock into place with a small hand-held sledgehammer.
- Use a wheelbarrow or trashcan (rubbish bin) dolly to move the rock to the wall location.
- Cutting into a slope is easier than back filling.
- The first row of rock should be larger than a bowling ball but small enough to move by yourself or with a helper.
- Call before you dig if there is a service provided in your country that helps to identify underground utility lines. This will help save you from damage, injury, and fines.
- Don't lift rocks that are too heavy or you may cause yourself back problems.
- Walls should be no higher than three feet.
- Many cities, towns and municipalities require a professional engineer's sign and seal or some other form of certification for any retaining wall that exceeds three feet. Make sure to check with your local building department or local government sector responsible for building.
Things You'll Need
- Earth for filling
- Tools for cutting away embankment
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