Stone Retaining Wall – Dedham, MA

Stone Retaining Wall

At this property in Dedham, MA, the owner sought to terrace a hillside with a stone retaining wall in preparation of planting fruit trees.  The hillside needs to be cleared of brush, re-graded, and retained.   The owner is looking for a rougher, farm style wall that will go quickly, and do what it needs to do.

Stone Retaining Wall - Before

Before

Stone Retaining Wall - Before

Before

Stone Retaining Wall - Before

Before

Stone Retaining Wall – Prep

Using a machine we clear and grade the lower part of the hillside in preparation for the wall.  We dig a base, fill it with crushed stone, and lay a fabric backing before starting the installation.  The curve of the wall will follow the curve of the hillside and taper down slightly at the ends, with a stairway in the middle for access.

Stone Retaining Wall - Prep

Stone Retaining Wall – Prep

Stone Retaining Wall - Prep

Prep

Stone Retaining Wall - Prep

Prep

Stone Retaining Wall – Installation

Our stone is weathered fieldstone.  It has a rough, weathered texture and color, and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes for a traditional looking stone wall.  We set the largest stones first, and then work our way up to the cap, backfilling with stone and gravel along the way.

Stone Retaining Wall - Installation

Stone Retaining Wall – Installation

Stone Retaining Wall - Installation

Installation

Stone Retaining Wall - Installation

Installation

Once the lower wall is in, we regrade the next terrace and prep for the upper wall.  The 2nd tier gets built, and then again we grade and clear the top most portion of the hillside.  In a couple short weeks we’ve made big changes to this hillside, creating a much more usable and pleasing space that will last generations.   What was an overgrown hillside can now be planted and gardened.  We look forward to returning in the fall to see how the new orchard looks.  Take another look at the before and after photos.

Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Walls + Terrace

Stone Retaining Wall

Completed Walls + Terrace

Types of Stone Steps

Solid Granite Steps

Solid granite steps are a commonly used an attractive form of stone steps.  As you would imagine they are made of a solid blocks of granite cut to size.  A standard granite step comes 7″ high and in differing lengths and widths.  These heavy blocks can be dry laid or mortared onto a base when necessary.  There are different types of granite that will vary slightly in color and grain and edge treatment.

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Antique or Reclaimed Granite Stepsss

Antique or ‘reclaimed granite’ refers granite that was quarried long ago. Antique granite was split and shaped by hand so is rougher and more irregular, and the color is usually darker than the freshly quarried stone.  Antique granite is harder to find and must be hand picked to find the right size and shape for a particular application.  Antique granite will cost more than new granite but will provide a much more authentic look.

reclaimed granite steps

Antique or Reclaimed granite steps

 

Solid Bluestone Steps

Bluestone risers or steps are similar to granite steps but they are made from bluestone material.  They are less common than granite steps and will cost more and have less standard sizing options.

Solid Bluestone Steps

Solid Bluestone Steps

 

Treads + Risers

Stone steps can also be made from treads and risers rather than solid stone.  Stone treads are commonly made of granite, bluestone, or limestone.  The treads are ~2″, and the risers can be built up in any of the different types of stone walls.

treads and risers

treads and risers

 

Fieldstone or Natural Stone Steps

Fieldstone steps are made from large, flat natural stones.  Fieldstone steps can be laid without mortar in any variety of ways depending on the stone selection.  Fieldstone steps give a much more rustic and natural appearance but will be more irregular than other types of stone steps.

natural stone steps

natural stone steps

natural stone steps

natural stone steps

 

Paver/Block Steps:

Block steps are made from modular concrete blocks and treads.  There are a variety of different brands and products available.  These modular systems are not set without mortar, but glued together with a strong adhesive.

paver steps

paver steps

Dry Stack Stone Bench

Dry Stack Stone Bench

After completing a project at this home in Marlborough, MA, there was an extra piece of antique granite along with various other scrap stone.  After brainstorming some ideas with the homeowner, we decide to use the granite to make a unique dry stacked stone bench.

This piece of granite was likely a piece of curbing at one point.  You can see this in that it is bowed in shape which lets it follow the curve of the road.  Being bowed it would not have made the best step for our original purposes, but, creates a very pleasing shape for the top of a bench.

Stone Bench - Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench – Marlborough, MA

 

Using some prybars, with lift the stone up one end at a time and prop it up on some supports at the desired height.  After that we simply build up to the granite with our stone bases.  The stone bases are made from bluestone and antique cobble stones.  No mortar is used.  The stones are dry stacked and the weight of the granite top will hold everything together.

 Stone Bench - Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench – Marlborough, MA

 

The final product is a very sturdy, unique, and attractive stone bench.

Stone Bench - Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench – Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench - Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench – Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench - Marlborough, MA

Stone Bench – Marlborough, MA