Simple Techniques to Build a Dry Stone Retaining Wall

May 5, 2015

FSI Landscape Supply_image_050515It’s getting close to the point where you don’t need to check the weather before stepping outside to see how many layers you’ll need. And for all the GTA do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners out there, this is the time of year you’ve been waiting for to start your gardening and other outdoor home improvement projects.

While decks and patios will surely need some of your attention this spring, consider putting together a dry stone retaining wall to add another element to your landscaping design. Just saying it out loud may sound a bit intimidating, but once we outline the steps, you’ll actually see it’s nothing to fuss about.

Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning is everything. To start, building a dry stone retaining wall in Toronto is something that will take some dedication, so set aside a block of time. You also need to decide the dimensions of your wall and whether or not that’s possible with the desired location. Next, figure out how many retaining wall stones you’ll need by determining the size of the wall (calculated by multiplying the desired height, length, and depth of the wall) in relation to the size of your stones.

Next, you need to gather up your tools. A shovel, hammer, and mattock should do just fine, along with a line level, some tall stakes, and some string. Of course, this is all assuming you’ve already selected the type of stones you’ll be using.

Step 2: Dig, Dig, Dig

Once it’s confirmed the wall is straight, which can be determined with a line level, you can take the cut-and-fill approach to start digging a ditch. This technique ensures the foundations of the wall are to be built on undisturbed soil instead of fill. The next step is to line the string the length of the wall and about 20 centimetres off the ground.

The foundation of the trench also needs to be levelled and the ground beneath the wall needs to be smoothed over with a shovel and lined with crushed stone pieces, which can be used to fill gaps later in the project.

Step 3: Rock It Right

Once the ditches are done, stack the stones flat side against the wall, one by one without making the rocks touch the string. There’ll be some spaces left in-between the larger stones; to deal with this, find smaller stones and place them strategically to fill the void.

You need to continue this until all the spaces throughout the entire trench are filled, using water when necessary to allow the fill to settle. Once all the rocks are in place, square them off so they have a nice clean and structured appearance.

Now you’re all done! Getting through this will be somewhat of an adventure, but you’ll appreciate it every time you step outside your home.

For all the necessary tools and additional tips, visit FSI Landscape Supply. As the top source of retaining wall stones and more in Toronto, we’re a one-stop shop that will save you time–and trust us when we say you’ll need it!

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