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How to Make a Dry Stone Wall

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Dry stone walls make an attractive feature in any garden and because no man-made materials are used they blend easily into natural surroundings. They also provide a tough and long-lasting boundary to your property.

You will need:

  • String
  • Shovel
  • Large selection of rocks, stones and pebbles
  • Mallet
  • Drainage pipe
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Friend

Step One

Mark out the course of the wall using the string stretched tautly on each side.

A freestanding dry stone wall should be twice the size at the base than at the top.

If needed dig out a ditch about 10 to 30 cm deep if the ground is not compact and level. Be aware of other obstacles such as tree roots.

Start by placing the largest stones (foundation stones) first, flattest side to down to give a strong base. Then fill around the stones with the smaller ones.

If any large holes exist it is better to use a single large rock rather than multiple small ones.

Step Two

Using the bigger stones towards the bottom of the wall with the longest side facing inwards, cover the joints as you build up both sides simultaneously. This is to keep the wall strong and each stone firmly in place whilst building.

Step Three

The wall should be thinning as it is built taller. Make sure the hearting stones (filler stones) are used as the wall progresses, as it will be too hard to fill later.

Using cross-joints will strengthen the wall but the use of a through stone, which runs from one side of the wall to the other, will guarantee durability.

These can be laid halfway up, across a joint and about every metre or so along the wall, depending on how many stones you have available to you.

Step Four

One of the last steps is to lay copestones along the top of the wall to make it more attractive and to also bind it all together.

Each stone should be self-supporting and once laid can be braced into place by hammering V shaped stones between them.

Step Five

If the wall should lay against a hill or slope, backfill the wall with drainage material and place a pipe along the bottom to collect water.

Once completed the wall should be able to be walked along without any motion of the stones.

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