Dry Laid Fieldstone Walls


By Tony Catanzaro


Natural fieldstone walls have been utilized for thousands of years. Even with the advent of concrete block and concrete segmental retaining wall systems natural fieldstone remains popular. The reason is natural stone cannot be matched for its beauty and durability.  For a true masterpiece have one built by a professional that has decades of experience like we do here at Regency.


Most fieldstone walls are built one of two ways. The first method is called dry laid. This means the wall is constructed using no mortar or concrete footing. The second is wet laid using a concrete footing and mortar.


Our basic method of building dry laid fieldstone retaining wall is to excavate a level trench 6 to 10 inches deep by approximately 2 feet wide by the length of the desired wall. Compact the soil with a hand or mechanical tamper. Then install 4 to 8 inches of quarry process rake till level and compact with a vibratory plate compactor.


We estimate how much fieldstone needed by taking your total face footage and divide by twelve. This gives you the amount of tons needed (depending on stone quality and how choosy you are). The average fieldstone pallet is about one and a half ton. It is best to up the pallets of fieldstone and organize them by size and shape. Especially saving any pieces that will make good corners and capping stones. This will save time later when looking for certain pieces of stone. We then would set up mason lines so you run your wall straight or set your curves using a garden hose or a flexible paving stone edge restraint. Choose some larger stones to set your base course. This course will be all or partially buried below grade.


For a dry laid fieldstone wall to retain the earth it must have batter. Batter is the amount of lean the wall has towards the retained earth. One to two inches of batter per foot of height is good rule to follow. To keep a consistent batter we make a batter board. These are wedge shaped, flat on one side, sloping on the other. When driven into the ground at the edge of the wall, they afford a quick check on the inward slopes of the wall.


Next we choose stones with a good “face” and ensure they inter lock as often as possible by always having one stone over two in a running bond fashion. Try to mix the sizes equally so the wall maintains a consistent look. The stones all are not in front and the wall should maintain at least an 18” depth to the top height. We always try to inter lock and support stones. Many stones may need to be chipped and cut by hammer and chisel. The finer finish you desire the more hammering, chiseling, and choosing will be needed.


As the wall climbs in height we install a perforated pipe behind the bottom course, a geo-textile fabric between the wall and soil and fill the void with ¾ inch clean gravel. This helps relieve any pressure from water build up behind the wall. About one foot from the surface fold the geo-textile over and tuck it back into the stone wall. The remaining foot or so can be filled with topsoil for plantings.


Coming within six inches of the final height we then set up a mason line and start using the capping stones that were saved. This can be very tedious and to get a nice line there will be many adjustments using thinner stone to shim and wedge the capping stones to the right height.


When the wall is completed one final step is to use a large rubber mallet and tap the wall and tighten up any loose stones. Make sure your drain pipe has a clear exit and the exposed corners are secure from shifting. At this point your wall should be complete and last for decades if not generations.


Call us today for a custom natural hand built fieldstone wall. Custom natural stone and boulder steps as well.

Maintenance & Plowing

Regency Landscape offers high quality residential and commercial grounds maintenance and snow plowing services in the following towns:

• Long Hill Township
• Warren Township
• Bernards Township
• Bernardsville
• Berkeley Heights
• Watchung
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• Surounding areas

Patio & Pavers

Regency knows that a well designed and installed paver project can add beauty and value to your home. Pavers may be used for eye pleasing patios, elegant pool skirts, meandering walkways and drive ways. Don't forget retaining walls and raised planting beds. The possiblities afforded by pavers are limited only by the imagination. Our Design/Build services are available in:

• Morris County
• Somerset County
• Union County
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