Stone Walls For The Garden: Stone Wall Options For Your Landscape

Stone Walls For The Garden: Stone Wall Options For Your Landscape

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Stonewalls for the garden add an elegant charm. They are practical, offerprivacy and division lines, and are a long-lasting alternative to fences. Ifyou are considering putting one in, make sure you understand the differencesbetween stone walls of various types. Know your options so you can choose thebest one for your outdoor space.

Why Choose Stone Wall Options

A stone wall will not be your cheapest option for the gardenor yard. However, what you lose in money you will make up for in a number ofother ways. For one, a stone wall is extremely durable. They can literally lastthousands of years, so you can expect that you’ll never have to replace it.

A stone wall is also much more attractive than otheroptions. Fencescan look nice, depending on the materials, but stones look more natural inthe environment. You can also achieve different looks with a stone wall, from arustic pile to a streamlined, modern looking wall.

Stone Wall Types

Until you really look into it, you may never realize justhow many different types of stone walls are available on the market. Landscapingor landscapearchitecture companies can essentially craft any type of wall you want.Listed here are a few more common options:

  • Single freestanding wall: This is a simple type of stone wall, which you could create yourself. It is simply a row of stones laid out and piled up to the desired height.
  • Double freestanding wall: Giving the former a little more structure and sturdiness, if you create two lines of piled stones, it is called a double freestanding wall.
  • Laid wall: A laid wall may be single or double, but it is characterized by being set in a more orderly, planned fashion. The stones are selected or even shaped to fit into certain spaces.
  • Mosaic wall: While the above walls can be made without mortar, a mosaic wall is designed decoratively. Stones that look different are arranged like a mosaic and mortar is needed to hold them in place.
  • Veneer wall: This wall is made of other material, like concrete. A veneer of flat stones is added to the outside to make it look like it’s made of stones.

Different stone wall types can also be classified by theactual stone. A flagstone wall, for instance, is made of stacked, thinflagstones. Other stones commonly used in walls are granite, sandstone,limestone, and slate.

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12 Different Types of Walls – Do you know them all?

Do you know all 12 types of walls? Take a guess and then see how you do here where we list out them all out in this in-depth article explaining and showing the many different types of walls and wall finishes for a house. Interior, exterior, different materials, cost and more. Everything you need to know about house walls. materials, cost and more. Everything you need to know about house walls.

When it comes to a wall, there aren’t too many variations with respect to types. You have interior vs. exterior walls. For interior, they’re either load-bearing or non-load bearing.

Beyond those distinctions it boils down to wall finishes and perhaps some structural materials such as brick vs. framed. This article steps you through the various types of walls and options. Also check out our very cool parts and layers of a wall diagrams.


Some dry stone wall constructions in north-west Europe have been dated back to the Neolithic Age. Some Cornish hedges are believed by the Guild of Cornish Hedgers to date from 5000 BC, [3] although there appears to be little dating evidence. In County Mayo, Ireland, an entire field system made from dry stone walls, since covered in peat, have been carbon-dated to 3800 BC. The cyclopean walls of the acropolis of Mycenae, Greece, have been dated to 1350 BC and those of Tiryns slightly earlier. In Belize, the Mayan ruins at Lubaantun illustrate use of dry stone construction in architecture of the 8th and 9th centuries AD.

Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, Africa, is a large city "acropolis" complex, constructed from the 11th to the 15th centuries AD.

Terminology varies regionally. When used as field boundaries, dry stone structures are often known as dykes, particularly in Scotland, where professional dry stone wall builders are referred to as 'dykers'. Dry stone walls are characteristic of upland areas of Britain and Ireland where rock outcrops naturally or large stones exist in quantity in the soil. They are especially abundant in the West of Ireland, particularly Connemara. They may also be found throughout the Mediterranean, including retaining walls used for terracing. Such constructions are common where large stones are plentiful (for example, in The Burren) or conditions are too harsh for hedges capable of retaining livestock to be grown as reliable field boundaries. Many thousands of kilometres of such walls exist, most of them centuries old.

In the United States they are common in areas with rocky soils, such as New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and are a notable characteristic of the bluegrass region of central Kentucky as well as Virginia, where they are usually referred to as rock fences or stone fences, and the Napa Valley in north central California. The technique of construction was brought to America primarily by English and Scots-Irish immigrants. The technique was also taken to Australia (principally western Victoria and some parts of Tasmania and New South Wales) and New Zealand (especially Otago).

Similar walls also are found in the Swiss–Italian border region, where they are often used to enclose the open space under large natural boulders or outcrops.

The higher-lying rock-rich fields and pastures in Bohemia's south-western border range of Šumava (e.g. around the mountain river of Vydra) are often lined by dry stone walls built of field-stones removed from the arable or cultural land. They serve both as cattle/sheep fences and the lot's borders. Sometimes also the dry stone terracing is apparent, often combined with parts of stone masonry (house foundations and shed walls) that are held together by a clay and pine needle "composite" mortar. [ further explanation needed ] [ clarification needed ]

The dry stone walling tradition of Croatia was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2018, alongside those of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland. [2] In Croatia, dry stone walls ( suhozidi) were built for a variety of reasons: to clear the earth of stone for crops to delineate land ownership or for shelter against the bora wind. Some walls date back to the Liburnian era. Notable examples include the island of Baljenac, which has 23 kilometres (14 mi) of dry stone walls despite being only 0.14 square kilometres (0.054 sq mi) in area, and the vineyards of Primošten. [4]

In Peru in the 15th century AD, the Inca made use of otherwise unusable slopes by building dry stone walls to create terraces. They also employed this mode of construction for freestanding walls. Their ashlar type construction in Machu Picchu uses the classic Inca architectural style of polished dry stone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Many junctions are so perfect that not even a knife fits between the stones. The structures have persisted in the high earthquake region because of the flexibility of the walls, and because in their double wall architecture, the two portions of the walls incline into each other.

The style and method of construction of a wall will vary, depending on the type of stone available, its intended use and local tradition. Most older walls are constructed from stones and boulders cleared from the fields during preparation for agriculture [5] (field stones) but many also from stone quarried nearby. For modern walls, quarried stone is almost always used. The type of wall built will depend on the nature of the stones available.

One type of wall is called a "double" wall and is constructed by placing two rows of stones along the boundary to be walled. The foundation stones are ideally set into the ground so as to rest firmly on the subsoil. The rows are composed of large flattish stones, diminishing in size as the wall rises. Smaller stones may be used as chocks in areas where the natural stone shape is more rounded. The walls are built up to the desired height layer-by-layer (course by course) and, at intervals, large tie-stones or through stones are placed which span both faces of the wall and sometimes project. These have the effect of bonding what would otherwise be two thin walls leaning against each other, greatly increasing the strength of the wall. Diminishing the width of the wall as it gets higher, as traditionally done in Britain, also strengthens the wall considerably. The voids between the facing stones are carefully packed with smaller stones (filling, hearting).

The final layer on the top of the wall also consists of large stones, called capstones, coping stones or copes. As with the tie stones, the capstones span the entire width of the wall and prevent it breaking apart. In some areas, such as South Wales, there is a tradition of placing the coping stones on a final layer of flat stones slightly wider than the top of the wall proper (coverbands).

In addition to gates a wall may contain smaller purposely built gaps for the passage or control of wildlife and livestock such as sheep. The smaller holes usually no more than 8 inches in height are called 'Bolt Holes' or 'Smoots'. Larger ones may be between eighteen and 24 inches in height, these are called a 'Cripple Hole'. [6]

Boulder walls are a type of single wall in which the wall consists primarily of large boulders, around which smaller stones are placed. Single walls work best with large, flatter stones. Ideally, the largest stones are being placed at the bottom and the whole wall tapers toward the top. Sometimes a row of capstones completes the top of a wall, with the long rectangular side of each capstone perpendicular to the wall alignment.

Galloway dykes consist of a base of double-wall construction or larger boulders with single-wall construction above. They appear to be rickety, with many holes, which deters livestock (and people) from attempting to cross them. These dykes are principally found in locations with exceptionally high winds, where a solid wall might be at risk of being unsettled by the buffeting. The porous nature of the wall significantly reduces wind force but takes greater skill to construct. They are also found in grazing areas where they are used to maximize the utility of the available stones (where ploughing was not turning up ever more stones).

Another variation is the Cornish hedge or Welsh clawdd, which is a stone-clad earth bank topped by turf, scrub, or trees and characterised by a strict inward-curved batter (the slope of the "hedge"). As with many other varieties of wall, the height is the same as the width of the base, and the top is half the base width.

Different regions have made minor modifications to the general method of construction—sometimes because of limitations of building material available, but also to create a look that is distinctive for that area. Whichever method is used to build a dry stone wall, considerable skill is required. Correcting any mistakes invariably means disassembling down to the level of the error. Selection of the correct stone for every position in the wall makes an enormous difference to the lifetime of the finished product, and a skilled waller will take time making the selection.

As with many older crafts, skilled wallers, today, are few in number. With the advent of modern wire fencing, fields can be fenced with much less time and expense using wire than using stone walls however, the initial expense of building dykes is offset by their sturdiness and consequent long, low-maintenance lifetimes. As a result of the increasing appreciation of the landscape and heritage value of dry stone walls, wallers remain in demand, as do the walls themselves. A nationally recognised certification scheme is operated in the UK by the Dry Stone Walling Association, with four grades from Initial to Master Craftsman.

  • Mourne Wall: twenty-two mile long wall in the Mourne Mountains location in County Down, Northern Ireland
  • Ottenby nature reserve, built by Charles X Gustav in mid 17th century, Öland, Sweden

While the dry stone technique is most commonly used for the construction of double-wall stone walls and single-wall retaining terracing, dry stone sculptures, buildings, fortifications, bridges, and other structures also exist.

Traditional turf-roofed Highland blackhouses were constructed using the double-wall dry stone method. When buildings are constructed using this method, the middle of the wall is generally filled with earth or sand in order to eliminate draughts. During the Iron Age, and perhaps earlier, the technique also was used to build fortifications such as the walls of Eketorp Castle (Öland, Sweden), Maiden Castle, North Yorkshire, Reeth, Dunlough Castle in southwest Ireland and the rampart of the Long Scar Dyke. Many of the dry-stone walls that exist today in Scotland can be dated to the 14th century or earlier when they were built to divide fields and retain livestock. Some extremely well built examples are found on the lands of Muchalls Castle.

Dry stone walls can be built against embankments or even vertical terraces. If they are subjected to lateral earth pressure, they are retaining walls of the type gravity wall. The weight of the stones resists the pressure from the retained soil, including any surcharges, and the friction between the stones causes most of them to act as if being a monolithic gravity wall of the same weight. Dry stone retaining walls were once built in great numbers for agricultural terracing and also to carry paths, roads and railways. Although dry stone is seldom used for these purposes today, a great many are still in use and maintained. New ones are often built in gardens and nature conservation areas. Dry stone retaining structures continue to be a subject of research. [7]

Since at least the Middle Ages some bridges capable of carrying horse or carriage traffic have been constructed using drystone techniques. An example of a well-preserved bridge of this type is a double arched limestone bridge in Alby, Sweden, on the island of Öland.

In northeastern Somalia, on the coastal plain 20 km to Aluula's east are found ruins of an ancient monument in a platform style. The structure is formed by a rectangular dry stone wall that is low in height the space in between is filled with rubble and manually covered with small stones. Relatively large standing stones are also positioned on the edifice's corners. Near the platform are graves, which are outlined in stones. 24 m by 17 m in dimension, the structure is the largest of a string of ancient platform and enclosed platform monuments exclusive to far northeastern Somalia. [8] Burial sites near Burao in the northwestern part of the country likewise feature a number of old stelae. [9]

In Great Britain, Ireland and Switzerland, it is possible to find small dry stone structures built as signs, marking mountain paths or boundaries of owned land. In many countries, cairns, as they are called in Scotland, are used as road and mountain top markers.

Want to build a privacy fence Prepare accordingly before - make a sketch of your garden. Highlight the fence and on the existence of a trend in the field. It is also important to determine the height of the fence. Low fences demarcate the garden, but do not provide sufficient privacy. Optimal is a height of between 1.5 meters and 2 meters - but it is closely related to the specificities of the field. There are many options available on the market - the wooden fence looks natural, but needs an oil / regular brush. metal fences are sturdier than the wooden fence, but cost much more and there is a risk of rust. The mesh can withstand the good weather, but you need the assistance of construction professionals. The mesh can be combined with climbing plants.

The advantages of the garden wall opposite the barrier of privacy

The garden wall usually costs more, it is worth the investment anyway. Unlike privacy fence garden wall is very stable, increasing the value of the property and can even be used as a "wall" of the outdoor kitchen. It protects against the cold wind. The natural stone wall can be planted - the design has great appeal.

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Types Of Stone Walls – Learn The Differences Between Stone Walls - garden

Stone Garden Walls
Types of Stone, Installation Methods and Pictures

Stone garden walls are my favorite type, whether it be a retaining wall or one that is free standing. They look good with so many types of houses and complement many surrounding paving materials.

However, if you were to go to a stone yard, at first you would be totally confused and overwhelmed. There are just so many kinds, colors, sizes and so on.

So how do you go about choosing the actual stone. or do you just leave it up to your landscaper or mason? I hope not!

You must decide on the color, shape and size of the stones. Depending on where you live, different types of stones are available since they are typically quarried nearby or found in local places.

Natural stone wall with pockets left for plants. a charming look!

Please click on any of these pages for more information.

Or see my three favorite types of walls below!

Some stones have a natural shape, such as fieldstone.

  • Fieldstone is found in fields, woods, and forests.
  • It has a very natural look and the stones are slightly rounded.
  • It typically come in three different sizes.

  • Sold in pallets, bundles or individually, you will see that they are grouped by color.

Sizes and Shapes of Stone Garden Walls

The stone you select should be in scale with the height of the wall.

Narrow Stones for Garden Walls

  • These are rather flat and approximately one to two inches thick.

Often they are bluestone and if there are nearby steps, look great with bluestone treads.

  • These stones are typically dry laid and stacked.
  • Narrow stones, such as one inch thick, work well with low walls. I would advise not using these narrow stones with walls that are over eighteen inches high. When using narrow stones, horizontal lines are created. The higher the wall, the more lines you have. They almost never look straight, but on low walls they are not obvious.

    Larger Stones With Different Shapes

    This one is a favorite of mine! The stones are interesting shapes, true, but I love how larger boulders are set in the wall . This not only makes it interesting but breaks up the design, particularly important for long walls. Plants also serve to make the wall interesting and softens the rocks.

    These stones are irregular in shape and are actually like small landscape boulders. These can be dry laid, dry laid with mortar behind them, or set in concrete. The dry laid method provides the most natural look.

    Flat Stones (also known as face stone)

    In addition, garden stone walls can be made out of large stones with a flat faces. These stones are mortared to concrete block walls. Sometimes the they fit together very tighly like a jigsaw puzzle at other times they have a looser look with larger mortared joints.

    Geometric Flat Stones

    These stones are used to create a stone garden wall where the stones are cut to a precise geometric shape. Then as with the natural shaped flat stones, they are applied to a concrete block wall. This type of wall has a more structured look.

    Unless you want an actual boulder wall, a range of stone sizes looks the best. Various sized stones make for an interesting look and a very natural one also.

    Stone Colors

    Look at the color running though the stones. Some stones are mostly one color, while others have many colors combined.

    Stone can be gray, tan, or brown. They can be any combination of those colors and can even have some purple running through. Think about what will be near the wall and what other paving or garden features will be seen with it.

    For example, if you have a bluestone walkway, you might consider stone that is in the grays. You might also like stone that is gray with some tan colors in it. If you are using tumbled pavers, these pavers are usually somewhat multicolored. Therefore, stone that picks up one of the colors would look right. You might also find a stone that has the same color blend as the pavers.

    Be sure to pay attention to the colors of your house. It's a good ideas to bring some samples home to make sure the stones look right.

    Tops of Stone Garden Walls

    Tops of stone garden walls , or the wall caps, can be made of the same stone. You can have some plants at the top that drape over the wall slightly to soften it.

    However, perhaps your wall is a seat wall. In this case, you might consider using a bluestone or limestone cap. This provides a flat surface to sit on and an area to rest food or drinks.

    Landscape stone walls can be lovely architectural elements in the landscape. However, building a stone garden wall is a craft. Not only will your stone selection make a difference, but also the workmanship.

    Walls can be either freestanding or be retaining walls.

    Other Pages of Interest

    Consider a Professional
    Online Landscape Design

    Unique Services Throughout the U.S. and Canada

    "Susan, what a pleasure it was to work with you. You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly! Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant. You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes. Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it. "
    Helen, Ontario-Canada

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