Stone Retaining Walls in Belmont, MA
After a recent addition to this home in Belmont, MA, the owners are looking to address their landscaping. As is, the yard has a heavy slope and various grades that are un-retained and eroding. There is also a large excess of dirt and rocks left over from the previous excavation.
The plan is to surround the perimeter of the property with dry stacked stone retaining walls. The retaining walls will allow us to raise the grade at the low end of the property, and cut into the grade at the higher end to produce a much flatter front and back yard. A granite stairway will also be added to transition between the two grades.
To build the walls we first bring in the excavator to cut the grades and dig out the base. The base of the walls are dug below ground and get filled with crushed stone. The crushed stone gets compacted and serves as a sturdy foundation while allowing drainage and some flexibility.
Behind the walls we install a layer of landscape fabric or ‘filter fabric’. This fabric goes at the very back of our excavation against the dirt. It will allow water to drain through but prevents dirt from filtering into the wall over time. The reason we don’t want dirt in the wall is that dirt holds water and also promotes plant growth. If dirt gets into the wall it will freeze and thaw, and let roots grow through which will deteriorate the wall over time.
After the prep work is done we bring in our fieldstone. This job will take ~80 tons of fieldstone to complete. To obtain this amount of stone we source our stone directly from a farm owner in MA. The stone is picked from the fields and from old boundary walls resulting in a nice mix of weathered, local stone.
Next we are ready to build the walls. The stones are dry stacked without mortar. We use the weight and placement of the stones to create a sturdy structure that drains freely. Each stone interlocks with one another with the heft of the stone tied back into the wall. Gravel backfill goes behind the fieldstone adding even more mass to the system as well as good drainage. As we near the top of the wall we stretch a line and install large, flat stones to cap the wall. These cap stones create a clean line visually and also help hold everything together.
The completed wall and steps come together nicely. We are able to create several different distinct levels with easy access in between. The yard is no longer sloping and eroding into/from the neighboring properties, and there is a clear separation with more usable space for. We are able to use all of the excavated dirt to level and fill the grades so that no extra material needs to be hauled in or out.