How to Build a Stone Wall

Decisions to Be Made

Firstly, are you going to do this entirely by yourself? We'll assume so, but plenty of the information in this article will be helpful as you come to terms with your project and hash out the details, even if you plan on bringing in help. The cost of transporting stone to your project site is one of the major considerations, to the degree that a paid contractor might end up being the least of your project's costs: Even a short wall could end up costing a couple grand in rocks alone, depending on how you source it. However, as a DIY devotee, you've probably already thought about that -- as well as the time needed for construction. Even the most accomplished dry-stone wallers only expect to create about 3.2 yards (3 meters) worth of wall per day [source: Henley]!

It's important to make sure you've chosen the right site for your wall: There are questions of zoning and licensure, of course, but there's also the question of neighbors. If you're looking to erect a border between your land and another person's land, you don't want to build right at that border unless you've agreed to share responsibility for the end result. Walls should be built from local stone, both for aesthetic and transportation reasons -- of course -- but also because of the weathering you can expect over time.

Likewise, you're going to want to check out the land itself: That baby tree will be huge one day, with roots you can't see. And even the most subtle slope will have a huge effect on the way your wall changes over time. Gravity is the most important ingredient in any stonework construction, and whether your wall is mortared or dry stone, you're going to be depending on that key force of nature to ensure that your wall succeeds for a long, long time. It's said that stone walls like these are in constant movement, which means the way you build the wall now is setting it on the course it'll follow for the rest of its existence.