Drystack Stone Wall – Concord, MA

DryStack Stone Wall – Concord, MA

At this home in Concord, MA the new owners seek to retain the slope on their front lawn with a drystack stone wall.   Above the driveway there is also an existing stone wall that is overgrown with ivy and beginning to deteriorate.

Concord, MA - Before

Concord, MA – Before

Concord, MA - Before

Concord, MA – Before

Concord, MA - Before

Concord, MA – Before

Planning + Design

The site here requires a number of considerations seeing as there is a curved driveway and multiple sloping grades.  After a couple of on-site discussions we decide on the height, curve, and taper of the wall.  In order to better visualize the final product we produce a simple overhead plan, and also a rendering.  To produce the rendering we take a photo of the house and superimpose a wall.  The wall is meant to be just high enough to create a gentle slope above without being to imposing.  It is also meant to mirror the curve of the driveway.

Drystack Stone Wall - PlanStone Wall – Plan

Drystack Stone Wall - Rendering

Stone Wall – Rendering

 

Drystack Stone Wall – Construction

To build the wall we dig out the base and fill with crushed stone.  We start with the largest stones at the bottom, and build our way up to meet the cap line.  There is no mortar used.  The heaviest part of the stones are tied back into the wall so that gravity holds everything together.

Drystack Stone Wall - Construction

Drystack Stone Wall – Construction

Drystack Stone Wall - Construction

Drystack Stone Wall – Construction

Filter fabric goes behind the backing stone to keep soil completely separate from the wall.  This ensures that soil/plant growth never filters into the wall over time.  Soil holds moisture and causes frost damage, and allows root growth which further degrades a stone wall.  In the end this wall will drain freely, remain flexible to any slight movements, and should last a lifetime.

Drystack Stone Wall - Construction

Drystack Stone Wall – Construction

Drystack Stone Wall - ConstructionDrystack Stone Wall – Construction

Drystack Stone Wall - Construction

Drystack Stone Wall – Construction

The main stone wall gets capped and we build the upper wall in a similar fashion but with smaller scale stones.

Completed dry stack stone walls

Completed stone walls – Concord, MA

Both stone walls are finished and backfilled with loam so grass can grow on the hillside

Completed dry stack stone walls

Completed stone walls – Concord, MA

Completed stone walls - Concord, MA

Completed stone walls – Concord, MA

 

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