Retaining Wall

A place to discuss basic walling techniques

Retaining Wall

Postby seanshemirani » Wed Jun 24, 2020 3:45 pm

Hello all! I've just recently discovered dry stone walling and I'm really excited to start building my own. I was planning on starting with a few retaining walls in my garden. We live on top of a canyon, and so each level will need a wall. The size will be about 3 ft tall by 20 ft long. As I've been doing research on building methods, I continually come up on two main types, and I'd like to know which method would be best for me:

1) The first method is built exactly like a free standing dry stone wall, in an 'A' frame, double-layered, foundation stones on the bottom, with tie/through stones half way up, and angular gravel backfill between the wall and dirt slope for drainage.
2) The second method is simpler with less stone used. It is just one row of stones, stacked at a slight angle back into the wall, with gravel behind each stone, and tie/through stones half way up as well. It has a gravel bed for footing, on which the foundation stones lie.

I've heard that the first method is only necessary for walls higher than 5 ft, or with extremely loose soil behind them. Can anyone fill me in on which method is best for my walls?
Thanks in advance!
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Re: Retaining Wall

Postby bloop » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:42 pm

Hello Sean,

I do not know which websites/books you have been looking at but I think you need some help.

Choose the second method which comprises building a single face of stones battered at a slope approximately 1:6. Decide on the finished height of your walls and the depth, the distance between the front of your wall and the earth bank behind, should be at least half the height of the wall. NEVER lay your foundations on gravel - walls in the UK that have stood for centuries are built on consolidated soil. When you have dug out your foundation trench, walk up and down on the exposed soil several times -then start building. Try and lay each stone with its long axis back into the wall. Again NEVER fill in behind your building stones with gravel or anything like sand or soil. Gravel offers no strength at all and will be compressed into the soil by the dead weight of your wall. Similarly sand and soil will wash out when it rains leaving your wall being held up by fresh air! Fill the space behind your building stones and the earth bank with other stones, broken bricks or lumps of concrete based hardcore - never use anything organic as it it will rot down and disappear.

Hope this helps and good luck with your walls.
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