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Building Landscape Walls with Character

  • Reconstructed from its original stone and enhanced with granite blocks--this semi-dimensional wall makes a unique statement.

    Landscape Walls with Character #21680

    Reconstructed from its original stone and enhanced with granite blocks--this semi-dimensional wall makes a unique statement.


    Location

    Hopkinton, Ma


  • Reclaimed stone wall created from New England rounds.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19608

    Reclaimed stone wall created from New England rounds.


  • Varied sizes of granite block create this non-uniform, natural stone retaining wall.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19554

    Varied sizes of granite block create this non-uniform, natural stone retaining wall.


  • Fieldstone rounds create this unusual retaining wall, complete with fountain.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19560

    Fieldstone rounds create this unusual retaining wall, complete with fountain.


  • Reclaimed Connecticut fieldstone walls, thermal bluestone patio and treads for wall caps

    Landscape Walls with Character #18848

    Reclaimed Connecticut fieldstone walls, thermal bluestone patio and treads for wall caps


    Location

    Milton, MA


  • Reclaimed granite block sea wall.

    Landscape Walls with Character #21426

    Reclaimed granite block sea wall.


    Location

    MA


  • Reclaimed granite wall stone created with granite blocks.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19548

    Reclaimed granite wall stone created with granite blocks.


  • Reclaimed granite block wall.

    Landscape Walls with Character #21402

    Reclaimed granite block wall.


  • A free standing stone wall is a highlight on this rambling property.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19620

    A free standing stone wall is a highlight on this rambling property.


  • Stone retaining wall blocks up close to showcase the varied patina's present in this combination.

    Landscape Walls with Character #21414

    Stone retaining wall blocks up close to showcase the varied patina's present in this combination.


  • Retaining wall created with reclaimed granite blocks.

    Landscape Walls with Character #21420

    Retaining wall created with reclaimed granite blocks.


  • Stacked stone retaining wall with a light patina.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19626

    Stacked stone retaining wall with a light patina.


  • Close up view--dry stacked stone wall.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19632

    Close up view--dry stacked stone wall.


  • A true sign of a natural New England Landscape: A dry stacked stone wall.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19638

    A true sign of a natural New England Landscape: A dry stacked stone wall.


  • Maine Coast Stone retaining wall with strong linear lines.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19644

    Maine Coast Stone retaining wall with strong linear lines.


  • A strong, natural patina exists in this freestanding granite block wall.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19650

    A strong, natural patina exists in this freestanding granite block wall.


  • Cool and unusual: Boulders integrated into this stacked stone retaining wall make quite the statement.

    Landscape Walls with Character #19662

    Cool and unusual: Boulders integrated into this stacked stone retaining wall make quite the statement.


  • Landscape Walls with Character #19656


Retaining walls are often thought of as the bones of a manmade landscape, helping to provide structure and definition. When considering a retaining wall there are different forms and functions as well as materials and styles.  

Retaining or Freestanding Landscape Wall

When building a stone retaining wall, the types of functional elements to consider are that a freestanding wall acts like a fence -- it has two sides that can both be seen, and that it serves as a way of holding back a section of the earth.

 

Retaining wall created with New England fieldstone.

Freestanding stone wall marks the perimeter of this property.

Mortar set or Dry Stacked

Reclaimed granite block retaining wall

Fieldstone rounds dry stacked stone wall

The construction of retaining walls generally use one of two methods to make the wall functionally sound.  There is the oldest method known to man which uses gravity to make the stones stay in place and is called a “dry stacked wall”.  The other method uses Portland cement or mortar which acts like a glue to bind the stones in place.

Each method has its own positive and negative aspects.  A well built dry stacked wall often takes more skill and is longer to construct, but actually should last longer than a wall using mortar.  The dry stacked wall is a classic look and exudes more of natural, found in nature look.

Building a wall using mortar usually enables the wall to go up relatively quickly and can cost less per face foot of wall. Often these walls have large joints between the stones that shows the mortar which makes them look less natural.  It should also be noted that over time water, and the freeze-thaw cycles, combined with the movement of the earth can and usually will crack and degrade cement causing walls to shift.

In recent years, especially in New England, masons have been using dry stack principles, but reinforce their walls with a cement core.  The resulting look is one that is dry stacked (you don’t see the mortar), but the cement helps add stability and makes the project move quicker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape Wall Styles

Each mason is going to bring their own flair and style to their work, but shape and look of the raw material they use will have a big impact on the finished product. There are many different shapes and styles of stone that can be used in constructing landscape walls, below are some general categories to consider.

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Flat and Blocky Retaining Walls

The raw materials for a blocky retaining wall are generally bigger, chunkier and have a beefier appearance. 

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Rounds and Boulders

Round stones are one of those things in nature that makes you say "how did they get that way". Round stones are worn by water or glaciers giving them an almost soft appearance.

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Mosaic

These pieces have a “broken ice” look when installed.  Created from blasting or hammering ledge, the shattered or split faces that are flat are installed face out.

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Stacked Stone Walls

This type of wall uses longer rectilinear stones that are not very tall. The resulting wall shows many thin edges and often has a more refined look. This wall was made of colonial wall stone which is a by-product of producing bluestone patio stones.