DIY How To

How To Construct a Dry Stone Wall

A dry stone wall is a wall constructed entirely from stones and nothing else. No mortar, and very occasionally a hammer to cut stones to size. It takes skill to find the right stone for the right place, but it's a skill that you'll get better and better at the more you practice.

Building a dry stone wall

So How Do You Do It?
A dry stone wall is essentially two interlocking walls tied together with long stones, and the middle is filled with smaller pebbles and rocks. First you mark your baseline and mount an a-frame the same shape as the wall at the start and end of the wall. Tie string between them to act as a guide for your wall's shape. A plumb bob means that the wall should stay vertical.

You must first dig a shallow trench and, starting at the end, build a solid and upright end. Then, begin to lay large stones in the shallow trench as the base. Build up the layers, with each stone bridging the divide between the two stones below. The stones should get smaller, so the outside of the wall slopes gently. The long stones that tie the two walls together should be laid every metre or so.

Then you lay flat stones on the top and pack pebbles in the middle. Your wall is complete.

Build a Wall at Home
Traditional dry walls are very hard work to build, not least because getting your eye in for the right type of stone to fit the space can take a long time. Buying natural stones in a pack means that the stones are of a good size and quality, though it does still mean having an eye for the right stone.

This is the only real option if you're not in the middle of the countryside and have the time to collect enough stones to make an entire wall. If it's in your garden or driveway, you can be creative and add interest with vertical stones or stones of different colours. Building it yourself may add a risk to what the wall might look like when you're done, but the pride you'll feel when you look at it every day and it hasn't fallen down yet will be huge. If properly looked after, your wall could last the ages.

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