6 easy steps to follow

Not everything in the United Kingdom is old and made of cobblestone. However, surrounding your property with a beautiful wall can add to its authentic look. If you are scared of hard work then you should drop this idea because building a stone wall is backbreaking work – you have been warned. However, if done correctly, the wall will last a life time – probably even longer. Without further ado, here is how to build a stone wall.

This is how it should look

1. Preparation

You will have to dig a trench that is below the frost line and at least 2 feet wider than the imaginary (for now) wall. Line the trench with landscape fabric that has been overlapped 12 inches at the seams and then add a six-inch layer of 3/4-inch stone. After that, tamp it with plate compactor. You will have to add and tamp more layers until the footing reaches about 8 inches bellow the grade. Drive two stakes about a foot beyond each end of a straight wall section separated by a distance equal to the width of the wall.


2. Laying the base

When you are finished with step 1 you will have to connect the stakes with a mason's like that is set just above the grade. Situate the first stone at one of the corners with its face grazing the line. Then, position the next stone against the first and remember that it has to be facing the line. Keep doing this until the first course is laid – after that, repeat on the opposite side. Fill the space between the two rows with smaller stones and set flush with the tops of the face stones. Top it with mortar.

Laying the mortar

3. Build up the stone wall

Start the second course from one of the corners by repositioning the line higher. In order to see if the vertical joints are staggered and the outside faces just touch the line you should dry-fit each stone and see how it goes. After you remove the stone, spread mortar on the wall – then, tamp the stone into it with a mallet. Some of the mortar will naturally be squeezed out and you should remove it before it starts to air dry.

Placing the stones

4. Mark stones for cutting

Later, you will have to cut a stone to make it fit right. It is best to use a wax pencil to mark the sections of the stone you want to remove. Your goal is to keep the joints tight – at least one and a half inches wide. A three-inch carbide chisel is ideal for stone cuts in combination of with a three-pound hand sledge – use safety goggles in order to protect your eyes from any stone fragmentation.

Marking stones for cutting

5. Cut the stones

Place the already marked stone on the ground with the waste-side down and place the chisel's carbide tip on the line. Aim slightly downward. Strike the chisel once (with all your might) and then reposition it so that the blade is half on the score. Strike as times necessary until the waste pops off. If you can't do it – consider visiting the gym for a few months.

Cutting the stone

6. Secure the joints

Use a brick jointer to trowel the joints between the capstones. Make them slightly concave to channel rainwater away. If you are building this stone wall during windy or hot and dry days then you should spray the wall with water as you work so that the mortar can fully cure. To keep the stone wall from shifting, you should apply a wedge of concrete along the base course, back and front as well. You can use a brick trowel to make each wedge 12 inches wide and 6 inches high – after that, hide them with backfill.

Securing the joints