How to Construct A Stone Wall?

How to construct a stone wall - Step by step

If your property has uneven ground or different levels of scenery, you might realize building a stone wall is just what it needs. Stone walls give you the ability to enlarge the accessible space in your yard, generate a beautiful, terraced look at your house, and control destruction, as many householders have found. If you’re interested in how to construct a stone wall with outcropping stones, follow these step-by-step guidelines. Building your own stone retaining walls doesn’t have to be overly complicated or specialized if you plan ahead, take your time, and complete each step.

Constructing a Stone Wall

Following are some guidelines that will help you learn a lot about how to construct a stone wall:
  1. Prepare all the equipment necessary.
  2. Plan your build.
  3. Arrange the stones and indicate the level.
  4. Excavate a base trench.
  5. Lay a crushed stone base.
  6. Lay down the first level.
  7. Lay down the second level.
  8. Keep the stone’s surface clean.
  9. Install retaining wall drainage.
  10. Backfill the wall.
  11. Lay down more levels.
  12. Use split blocks to create a rustic aesthetic.
  13. Achieve a smooth finish.
  14. complete the upper level of the wall.

1. Prepare all the equipment necessary:

The first task is to gather your materials. Rocks, of course, are first on the list, but you’ll also need a variety of additional supplies to complete the task. This includes: Landscape fabric

  • Gravel
  • sand
  • screenings
  • Wood stakes
  • shovel
  • wheelbarrow
  • Line level and string
  • 4-foot level
  • Rake
  • Mason’s line
  • Mallet
  • Maul or sledgehammer
  • Tamper

2. Plan your build:

Before you begin building rock retaining walls, make sure you have a strong strategy in place. Of course, your first consideration will be the project’s size and scope. How tall will your wall be, and how long will it be? And if you can use them in commercial or residential construction? These are important pieces of information since some cities have restrictions governing retaining walls larger than 30 or 36 inches. The height of your wall will determine how broad it should be. A basic rule of thumb is that you want one foot of thickness for every vertical foot.

Determine how much stone you need:

To calculate the stone requirements for a freestanding retaining wall, double the square footage of the wall face area. For each square foot, use 0.4 cubic feet of crushed stone for the base and 0.35 cubic feet of gravel backfill behind the wall. Having the appropriate materials and quantities available for each stage of the project greatly simplifies installation. Always order an extra 10–20% to account for cutting debris, compaction, and grading of the finished retaining wall.

Select the best-retaining wall blocks:

The best retaining wall blocks have a rough, non-split face texture, which increases friction and prevents sliding. Avoid flat stones, as they can shift and cause wall failure. Look for units with a minimum compressive strength of 3000 psi and that interlock to provide stability. Use a high-quality concrete mix that contains enough cement. Block shape is also crucial; curved and angled blocks outperform conventional rectangles. Proper block selection guarantees a long-lasting natural stone retaining wall.

3. Arrange the stones and indicate the level:

Next, begin to gain an understanding of your building materials—in other words, get to know your rocks. Make piles on the ground nearby, dividing stones based on size and weight, as well as how square or appealing they are. When you’re ready to build, start with the broadest and heaviest stones and work your way up to the best-looking stones on top. Unusual forms might be blended in the center. Remember that you can use a hammer and chisel to cut and trim rocks so they fit where you want them. You may also use these tools to make shims that will keep your wall sturdy and level. Once you’ve organized yourself, get your mason line and wooden stakes and plan out where you want the wall to go. Hammer the stakes in and tie a thread around them. Remember to include the required width-to-height ratio. Once the string is taut, mark the front boundary of your base and use a line level to guarantee a straight, level line. This will give you the base dimensions of your wall.

4. Excavate a base trench:

Now comes the difficult part: the huge excavation. You’ll want to dig a hole approximately a foot deep and as wide as the base. The 12 inches below grade will provide ample space to fill in with drainage stones and the initial large blocks that will secure your foundation.

5. Lay a crushed stone base:

Before constructing the retaining wall, lay a 6-inch layer of drainage gravel as a base course. The crushed stone base provides adequate drainage behind the wall. Use a mechanical compactor to compact the gravel into 2-inch layers. Level and smooth the gravel before laying the first course of blocks. Use well-graded gravel with stones ranging from 3/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. The gravel base creates a stable, flat footing for the retaining wall bricks.

6. Lay down the first level:

The largest and most reliable stones fall first. Run them in an even line, so they only touch the front of the string. You want them to lay as flat as possible, resulting in a level surface on top. To do so, you may need to dig out or add sand.

7. Lay down the second level:

The following layer is a little difficult. Again, large stones are recommended, and they should be offset so that they cover the gaps between the boulders below. Place each of these stones about a thumb width farther away from the string than the first course. This will help offer structural stability to withstand the pressure that backfill will impart. Using the same tactics as before, use your four-foot level to keep the surface level at the top. In some circumstances, smaller rocks might be used as shims between the first two tiers to ensure that everything is firm and interlaced properly.

8. Keep the stone's surface clean:

Before installing each new course of retaining wall blocks, clean the top of the lower course. Using a firm broom, remove any dirt, debris, or extra mortar. To thoroughly clean the tops of the blocks, use a garden hose with a high-pressure setting. Allow it to fully dry before adding the new mortar. The clean surface promotes appropriate bonding between courses. Sweeping each course as you proceed maintains the wall installation nice and organized, ensuring ideal structural integrity.

9. Install retaining wall drainage:

The drainage system is essential for retaining walls because it prevents pooling water and hydrostatic pressure behind them. First, install perforated drainage pipes at the retaining wall’s base and run them the entire length. Place gravel backfill behind the wall, around the drainage pipes, to allow water to flow. Install vertical pipes at 20–30-foot intervals that link to the horizontal drainage pipe to provide an exit point for water. The vertical pipes should continue through the backfill to ground level. Daylight the drainage system by directing water away from the stone wall with suitable soil grading.

10. Backfill the wall:

After you’ve built your wall to two levels, it’s time to fill the space behind it with drainage gravel. Pour, rake, smooth, level, and tamp it down, just like you did in the trench at the base. At this point, you only want to go up to the second level of rocks.

11. Lay down more levels:

Each successive course proceeds in the same manner as the second course. Move the stones back a half-inch from the string, overlapping the seams below. Try to keep them tightly packed and level on top. This results in a strong wall that can withstand the pressure that backfill will put on it. On the third layer, place a deadman, which is a long rock that extends back into the slope behind. These efficiently anchor the stones to the fill behind, resulting in a highly solid wall. As you ascend, continue to add gravel as backfill.

12. Use split blocks to create a rustic aesthetic:

Incorporate split blocks made of flat rocks or cut stones into the retaining wall to give it a natural, rustic appearance. The uneven forms and rough split faces provide an organic, informal look. As you stack the blocks, alternate between the made and divided blocks in a random pattern. To enhance visual appeal, scatter larger, split boulders over the landscape. Use suitable installation techniques to maintain the wall’s structural integrity. The combination of blocks and split stones creates a one-of-a-kind retaining wall with a strong foundation.

13. Achieve a smooth finish:

When constructing the last course of retaining wall blocks, precise cuts are required to ensure a clean front face. Mark each block and make straight cuts with a masonry saw. A circular saw with a concrete blade can make smooth cuts on curved walls as well. Cut the blocks 1/8 inch smaller than the stated size to allow for mortar joints. Cut blocks for the front face with the cut edge facing within, not outward. To ensure proper bonding, clean, saw-cut edges should be used before installation. Achieving clean, equal cuts produces a professional finish.

14. Complete the upper level of the wall:

When you reach the final courses, prepare your landscape cloth. This passes beneath the upper two stages and over the gravel, enabling you to grow grass behind the wall if you so choose. If you want green, spread some loam on top and seed it. The highest stones are the most significant since they will have the greatest visual impact. Make sure to save the nicest stones till last. Some individuals will shape these top stones with a hammer and chisel until they appear exactly right. Others could use cement to keep them in place.


Stone-retaining walls require a lot of labor, but they may be an excellent addition to your yard or in the garden of any commercial construction as well. They become a desirable feature, allowing you to expand your yard into previously unused land. If you follow these methods, you’ll end up with a robust retaining wall that will last for decades.


Stone walls are thick and bulky; minimize floor space. It also has a high dead weight, low flexural stability, flexible strength, and seismic resistance. Stonewall work is time-consuming and demands experienced workers since it cannot be changed, repaired, or dislocated easily.

Normally, stone walls range from 12 inches (30cm) to 24 inches (60cm) in density. Load-bearing walls, such as retaining walls or property walls, are generally thicker, while fancy or non-load-bearing walls can be thinner.

Brick is typically less costly than stone. Manufactured stone can be convenient for sheathing and is less expensive than genuine stone but more costly than brick.

Frequent cleaning is essential to keep your stone looking its finest. Use a soft-bristle brush or a quiet pressure washer to clean the surface without harming the stone or concrete joints. Prevent harsh chemicals or rubbing cleaners, as these can damage the stone's finish.