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concrete.

I want to leave it natural, stacked on top of one another and it will not be walked on. It will only be one stone thick and one of the stones may be 3" thick, 8 to 14 square inches and one stone may be 25 pounds or so.

It will not be a high wall - a couple of feet if that.

Plus I want to make a border (?) or a rock garden with this natural stone product too.

I may use rock, river rock, fieldstone, etc. I have not made up my mind yet.

Thanks for any information. I have done things in rock in the past but not this type of thing.

Catherine
 

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Rent a small tiller and till the area the stones will be laid on, then just put them down the wgt of the stones should set them but you can water the area to let them settle a little faster.

When the grass grows between them burn it off, it don't take much.

Plan B

I know you said you don't want to use concrete, but if you add a little concrete to the dirt you till up it will set after you water it, and most grasses won't grow through that. This makes a nice base to keep the rocks where you set them down.

I've made walks for a friend in a wheel chair by tilling, adding concrete then retilling it in 3 inches deep, raked it, rolled it flat then sprinkled lightly. This is a mother earth news idea, and it works.
 

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For a short (height wise) wall, you may want to consider putting down about 6" of fine crushed rock, or crushed rock with fines (commonly called base course in the construction industry) to bed the base of your wall. To do this, excavate about 8" below grade, place 5" to 6" of the crushed rock in the "trench" and level it up somewhat lengthwise along the direction your wall is running and certainly level it up across the width of the wall. Once this base has been established, put some water on it to facilitate the compaction that will eliminate the majority of settling that will inevitably occur later. Then, once your base has been leveled and tamped or compacted in place, it is just a matter of stacking rocks so they fit together snug enough so they won't shift.

If you are going to fill behind this wall with dirt or something (like for a flower bed) you will want to put in some means to drain excess water that might accumulate over time. Typically, a weep hole of 4" drain tile is pretty inconspicuous. These should be extended beyond the side of the wall that is to be filled about 12" or so. Before any dirt goes in, create a drain field at the base of the wall about 6" deep and 12" wide, all along the base. This will allow excess water to pass into the drain tiles and out the exposed foot of the wall. Drain Field material should consist of 1" clean stone - - meaning crushed rock that has been screened clean of fines and is a consitant nominal 1" sized material. Then dirt can be placed over the drain field without having to worry about water eventually creating enough hydraulic pressure to push the wall over.

If both sides of the rock wall are to be exposed, then there is no need for either the drain tiles or the drain field, so you can disregard the previous paragraph.

If you aren't going to use any mortar between the rocks in the wall itself, you have to fit the rocks very closely. I have seen drywall fences that are ~200 years old, and have required some maintenance periodically, but overall they stayed together because of the time that was taken to fit the individual stones when it was originally placed. On the other hand, I have seen mortared walls in Europe that were ~700 years old and were in great shape too.
 

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Several of the older log structures on my place were built just after the civil war and field stone without morter were used to level up the foundation,sometimes 2-3 feet tall.As with any working farm,feed and grain attract mice and rats that attract snakes.The cavities in the unmortered walls are perfect habitat for the sonsaguns and I kill a half dozen copperheads a year plus a dozen or so of questionable identification (shoot first,ask questions later) and three timber rattlers in the last five years.
I plan to donate some of these buildings to the historical sociaty to be relocated in a settler's museum park near here.I sure hope they dismantle them in cold weather.

Just my .02 on unmortered stone walls.
 

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I built a wall just like you’re talking about 10 or 12 years ago and its held up really well. The wall I built was only visible from one side (I backfilled the other side) so I had a few options of how to do it. I dug a good footer below the frost line (that’s not too deep around here 16 to 18 inches) and pour in concrete. I then stacked the rock using cement on the back portion of the stone so it would not be seen. Once the wall was to the correct height, I mixed more cement and spread it up the back side of the wall until it was about 3 inches thick. I inserted 1/2 PVC pipe every 16 inches or so near the bottom of the wall to allow water to drain through. I then back filled the wall with 1" washed stone/gravel, then laid landscaping fabric over the gravel then back filled with dirt to the top of the wall.

I'm sure there's some professional landscapers on here that will cringe ::) at this method but it worked and has held up very well with no cracks or loose stones.
 

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River rock will not make a good wall without mortar. Something like slate is ideal for making dry walls. For a durable wall they will need to be a double thickness wide and wider at the bottom than the top. Ever once in a while you will need to take a longer rock and tie both sides together for strength. A single thickness wall, unless very large stones, and laid without mortar will fall down in no time.
 

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The crushed limestone works good if you need it. With the man made stone (big fancy bricks) its often glued together with a construction adhesive by the landscapers but results may vary with different stone types. Meaning I wouldn't think the glue would stay stuck to wet sandstone. As for the glue its sold for the stone but I don't think its any different then regular construction adhesive.
 

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I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and there were ancient stone walls on our farm and on most of our neighbors farms. I've looked them over many times and always marveled at their durability and ability to withstand the hard winters there. About the only thing that seems to knock them down is when a tree grows to close to or even right in the wall. Over the years, it will push the rocks over but in most places they just seem to last and last.

A couple of things I've notices on these over the years is that they often are actually laid up almost like two walls side by side with stones laid so that any "tilt" was toward the opposite wall. In effect, the walls want to fall towards each other but being both of similar thickness (i.e. weight or mass) they actually hold each other up. When the desired height was reached, usually they were just left as is but sometimes they have a layer of large flat stones on top to act as capstones which add to the interlocking strength. If you dismantle one, you find the largest rocks are on the bottom and once in a while, you will see a rock in the base that is part of both walls. Avoid lining up seams between rocks in two layers. Think bricks where the seam of one layer is on the center of the bricks above and below that layer. Only in rock, you are dealing with irregular shapes and thicknesses. It is not uncommon to have say a 3 foot long rock with 2 or three smaller rocks on top of it BUT space left at the ends so that a larger rock can be added on each end that will overlap the seam of the big rock and tie into the next layer. To build a good wall, you need a lot of different size rocks. Tiny rocks get laid in the air gaps between big rocks and you can even pound slivers in from the outside to shim any gaps. Here in Kansas City where I live now, you see a lot of rock laid up with no visible mortar but every little crack has a rock sliver driven into it. There is a name for that style but I don't know it.

If laying natural rock, you should try to distribute your largest flattest rocks evenly throughout the wall. Each nice flat, large rock acts like an interlocking piece for the rest of the wall

I also did a quick search and found this site that seems to have some good info.

http://infoark.org/InfoArk/Sustainability/Mother Earth News/80/MEN_CD/mendemo/dcd/085/085-082-01.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Dave, thanks for the above LINK and additional information. My thank you goes to all of you! :)

My rock came in to the store and it got delivered today on 2 pallets with a forklift that came on a flatbed truck. I picked 2 different sizes.

I am starting on the small project FIRST. I am hiring a man who does this professionally to help me and he is a man that I have worked with before on another project here. He is bigger, taller, stronger, younger and has done a ton, no PUN intended, of this kind of work and other outside work. Hopefully he will be here on Saturday.

I got sidetracked with some work on trees and some professionals are coming here next week to help MM and me with that project. They have the BIG equipment and the manpower expertise. I usually do NOT hire out such things but in this case, HERE, we have to do this.

Thanks again and take care.

Catherine
 

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swany said:
Plan B

I know you said you don't want to use concrete, but if you add a little concrete to the dirt you till up it will set after you water it, and most grasses won't grow through that. This makes a nice base to keep the rocks where you set them down.

I've made walks for a friend in a wheel chair by tilling, adding concrete then retilling it in 3 inches deep, raked it, rolled it flat then sprinkled lightly. This is a mother earth news idea, and it works.
Hey Swany! How much concrete do you use?
 
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