We undertake all kinds of dry stone walling projects within the garden, as well as longer stretches of farm walling. Our landscaping business works primarily in the Cotswolds which means that in all probability part of the design will include dry stone walling. This old craft is surprisingly adaptable as past projects show:-
-A stone cairn
-Reclaiming a stone ruin into a garden feature
-Rustic steps, formal steps
-Cladding a building with dry stone walling
-Grottoes and arches
-Stone water features
For a free quote, or simply to discuss your ideas for a walling project within your garden, please get in touch. Alternatively give it a go yourself as outlined below.
HOW TO BUILD A COTSWOLD DRY STONE WALL
To properly master the tecniques and methods behind cotswold dry stone walling, it is best to serve a short apprentiship with a professional dry stone waller. That said, if a few straightforward rules are followed, learning the basic skills are surprisingly easy.
Double sided dry stone wall.
The first thing to understand with a cotswold dry stone wall, is that it consists of two different grades of stone, in-fill and face stone. The face stone is generally larger, and has a natural flat side to its front, (the ‘face’). This is the stone that is seen, and that creates the weathered smooth face of the wall. In the middle of the wall is the in-fill, which is placed piece by piece, helping to create one interlocking structure, that, done properly, adds considerably to its strength.
The basic dimensions of a one metre high double sided wall are approxamatly 24 inches at the base, and 16 inches at the top. These different widths from top to bottom are important because it ensures the wall has a ‘batter’. this can be acheived either by eye, or for longer stretches with a wooden profile frame, which can be simply constructed from battern, and used with a string line.
Depending on the soil the trench for the base of the wall should be between 4 to 8 inches deep. the first few courses of face stone should be larger stone, to create a strong base, and to lesson the chances of frost damage. When placing a face stone, make sure it is resting on stones beneath it in at least three places. If this isn’t initionally acheived when placing the stone, it can be helped by putting small wedges of in-fill under the ‘tail’ of the stone. After a few courses of stone have been constructed on either side in this way, in-fill should be carefully placed in the middle.
It is important to a occasionally add key stones, which are designed to add stregth. these are large stones, that extend at least half way through the wall, and sometimes stretch the entire width of the wall, creating a face on either side.
The top of the wall can be finished in various ways. It can be simply rounded of with concrete, or more traditionally, large stones can be placed on their side across the wall, creating a ‘cock and hen’ finish.
For a retaining wall all the same tecniques apply, except there is only one side of face stone. Key stones and well placed in-fill of varying size are essential to the walls strength, as a retaining wall can be under considable pressure. It is important not to add soil to the in-fill of a dry stone wall, as it impedes drainage, which in turn increases the risk of frost damage, and the pressure on the wall.
Lastly, when selecting stone for the face, make sure its not already slightly frost damaged or too soft, by simply discarding it to use for in-fill.