How to Build Your Own Garden Walls
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Published by TOP4 Team
When making garden walls, nothing goes so well as a stone wall. It’s durable, needs little maintenance if it is well-constructed and can greatly enhance the look of your house and its surroundings if you put a little care into its design and construction. Here’s how to build garden walls.
Your choice often depends on where you live. Country areas are likely to offer local stone in abundance, while towns may restrict you to a selection of man-made blocks unless you’re prepared to foot heavy delivery bills. Wherever you live, choose materials that compliment those already used for the house, for other building on the site, and for surfaces like paths and patios.
Will it be free-standing or earth-retaining? Solid or pierced with openings? Straight, curved or built in bays? Mortared or dry-laid? What bonding pattern will be used? How long, high and thick will it be?
Get professional advice from a builder or structural engineer if you’re building walls taller than about 1350mm (4ft, 6in), especially if they are earth-retaining walls. This will ensure that the dimensions and constructional techniques you propose to use will result in a strong wall. The small expense will be more than justified in terms of the peace of mind such reassurance will bring.
Since no mortar is used in building a true dry stone wall, it has to rely on a sound foundation and careful placement of the individual stones for its strength. At the base of the wall is a layer of large, heavy stones set in a shallow trench foundation. Above this lies the first course of the wall proper.
Make sure you have somewhere for the stone to be dumped when it is delivered, and organise helpers with wheelbarrows to transfer it near where the walls is built. Then sort the stones into groups of different sizes – large foundation stones, medium-sized stones with at least one square edge for forcing, long through stones, and smaller infill material. Set aside the stones that will form the wall coping.
Mark out the base of the wall, and lift turf or clear surface vegetation. Then dig down to a depth of about 150mm (6 in), or until you reach firm, undisturbed subsoil, compacting the spoil by stamping or ramming it down firmly. In areas prone to prolonged frost in winter, dig even deeper to a depth of 450 to 600 mm (18 to 24 in).
Building the wall
Lay a course of medium-sized facing stones on the foundations along each face of the wall, again with their squarest edges facing outwards. Check with your stringline or by “sighting” across the batter frames, to ensure that the facing stones are set back slightly from the edges of the foundation stones. Use smaller pieces of stones to wedge the larger ones so they will not be seen when the wall is complete.
For a better garden, get help from gardening professionals.