Monday, March 17, 2014

Tips On Building A Dry Stack Stone Wall #5: Style

In this post I want to take a look at some of the personal style issues
 that may come up in building your own dry stack stone walls. 

The posts to date in this continuing series for the owner builder are:

These first two photos show the section of wall 
that I had determined would be the most visible part of the wall
 both from inside and outside of the house 
and so I wanted to use the nicest looking stones here.

It is important to look at your project area before you start 
and plan out where you want to start working first
 and where you want to have the nicest parts of your wall.

Then take a look at your pile of stones 
and see how you can best use the most appropriate stones for each section of wall.

Now as you can see in the photo above the style changes quite a bit
 in this section that is more out of the way and not seen nearly as much.
Here I was more concerned with retaining the bank
and using available stones than how it would look.

These stones used here were all that was left in the pile 
 after the best and largest stones had already been used. 
Although the wall is just as sturdy, the stones are smaller
 and create a much rougher looking wall (by design).

Some of the categories I use in looking at stone walls are field walls, garden walls, and patio walls,
with the patio walls being the most refined.

Back to the first section of wall we looked at (above) 
now let's look at the choices in dealing with the top, or outline, of the wall.

When deciding what the outline of the wall will look like 
the two basic options are to follow the landscape 
and let the wall go up or down accordingly as you can see above...

Or to keep the the top of the wall near level
 and use step ups (or step downs) as needed to adjust the wall to the landscape.

The lower wall above is mostly level in the section on the right.

My personal taste is for a level wall but often times there are other factors that dictate the choice.
In this project I used both (level or slope with the landscape) as needed 
and as I wanted to compare the two styles.

The outline of the wall is also important because when people look at the wall
 mostly what they will notice is the lines formed by the top of the wall, 
rarely will they look at the individual stones.
They are looking at the overall impression not the details.

In the photos above and below you can see that the wall in the foreground is level 
and I have used my best stones to the right...

… whereas on the left the stones are smaller and will be hidden by the tree much of the year.

The photos above and below show two glaring mistakes that I must point out 
as any dry stack stone wall purist will certainly notice.

These are the dreaded lines in the wall.
In the center of the photo above there are two lines that curve from the top of the wall 
to the ground formed by the joints between the stones.
Ideally these are to be avoided as you want your stones to be laid in a brick style 
where the stone on top covers the joint of the two stones directly below so there are no "lines".

In this case I knew I was creating the lines but the fit of this series of stones, 
as well as the nice curve on the top that they created, was too good to give up.
Decisions, decisions. 

The diagonal line you can see above I didn't even notice till after this section was built.

I don't view lines as the end of the world but they should be avoided.
Professional wallers see them immediately and will judge the overall work by them.

In these last two photos I want to point out one last aspect of a style I use a lot
 and that is to use large stones to anchor the ends of the walls.

These create a more solid wall and are a great way to use large stones 
that may not work in the wall because of a lack of a suitable face.
for more on what makes a suitable face. 

In the next post we will take a look at building steps.

The posts to date in this continuing series for the owner builder are: