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NFT: DIY help needed regarding building a stone wall

tbonfig : 4/19/2017 3:18 pm
I have a few sloping areas that I'm looking to convert into vegetable gardens. There was a dry stack wall there that was falling apart, so I tore it down and started prepping to build a stone and mortar wall. This will look consistent with the other parts of the property and I just like the look better overall.

I've been doing a lot of reading on this and, as always, there is a lot of conflicting opinion information out there.

The wall will be about 25 feet in length and between 3-4' in high. I'm using stone from the property to build the wall.

I've read that you should be below the frost line for a mortared wall. For CT this means below 40+". I'm not doing that. This seems excessive to me and (perhaps selfishly) I don't need the wall to stand for 2,000 years. I have dug down 24".

Here are my questions:
1. What are the next steps here? I've read that I should put compacted gravel stone on the base layer. If I have a 24" trench, how much gravel should I put down?

2. What do I do after the gravel layer? Do I need to put a cement layer first? Is the gravel enough?

3. Is it necessary to backfill with gravel before the soil? Seems like a smart step, and I'm fine doing it, but someone I spoke with recommended a foot of backfill before the soil. A foot seems like a lot.

I may have more questions but I think these are the most concerning right now.

Thanks in advance!!
I'd check local codes  
schabadoo : 4/19/2017 3:31 pm : link
Around me solid walls over three feet tall need a permit and inspection.

I ended up going with a free standing wall. Less work, less worry about moisture and pressure.
Mr. President?  
LakeGeorgeGiant : 4/19/2017 4:11 pm : link
Is that you?
RE: Mr. President?  
tbonfig : 4/19/2017 4:12 pm : link
In comment 13434544 LakeGeorgeGiant said:
Quote:
Is that you?


Damn it, I was hoping I could avoid the politics :)
There were several good Mike Holmes episodes...  
Torrag : 4/19/2017 4:19 pm : link
...involving retaining walls. Happily my property is flat and I've never needed to construct one.
See if the attached link is helpful to you.  
rasbutant : 4/19/2017 4:56 pm : link
Not going below frost isn't about 2000 years, by not doing it, all your work could be destroyed after one (1!) winter. You don't want the frost to get under your wall and push up breaking your mortar joints. Just think about all the work you are going to put into this. Do you really want to cut that corner???
Link - ( New Window )
RE: See if the attached link is helpful to you.  
tbonfig : 4/19/2017 5:11 pm : link
In comment 13434579 rasbutant said:
Quote:
Not going below frost isn't about 2000 years, by not doing it, all your work could be destroyed after one (1!) winter. You don't want the frost to get under your wall and push up breaking your mortar joints. Just think about all the work you are going to put into this. Do you really want to cut that corner??? Link - ( New Window )


So frankly, I'm not sure if I can get down that far. I'm hitting a lot of rock at 24/28 inches. I get it, and agree with you, but we are on top of a "mountain" and rocks populate the yard, so I'm not sure if I can realistically get further.
Here's a video on building a rock wall  
GentleGiant : 4/20/2017 8:36 am : link
that almost inspired me to build one even though I had no need for one. He doesn't seem to bother going down below the frost line or even filling with mortar depending more on the A frame pressure from both sides to keep the wall stable as the ground shifts over time.
Link - ( New Window )
RE: Here's a video on building a rock wall  
schabadoo : 4/20/2017 9:35 am : link
In comment 13435116 GentleGiant said:
Quote:
that almost inspired me to build one even though I had no need for one. He doesn't seem to bother going down below the frost line or even filling with mortar depending more on the A frame pressure from both sides to keep the wall stable as the ground shifts over time. Link - ( New Window )


That's for a dry stone wall; it's not mortared. Much different.

Four by 25 by two or three feet of rock cemented together is a very big problem when the rain and snow and freezing weather get at it.
You are over thinking it my friend...  
EricJ : 4/20/2017 9:46 am : link
if this wall is just something that is more decorative and people will not be walking on top of it and it will not be supporting a structure, then you do not need to concern yourself so much with ground prep and foundation.

The earth has already settled. So, if you did not already churn up the ground below where the all is going, then all you really need to do is scrape/flatten out the area and begin with your wall.

The stability will come from how you layer the stones vs what you put beneath if the ground you are starting with is virtually undisturbed.
If you're hitting solid rock  
Ron Johnson 30 : 4/20/2017 12:16 pm : link
You're deep enough. The bigger issue is making sure it doesn't lean in from the weight of the soil behind it. There's a lot of good info on line as I'm sure you found
i did something similar  
haper : 4/20/2017 4:17 pm : link
but it was a stone fire pit; I used cinder blocks as a frame then decorative stone on the facing and limestone tops. I too wanted to avoid as much digging as possible but the guys at the supply shop were adamant abt going the proper depth. It was less to with structure integrity (needing to support weight) and more to do with the damage that uneven frost heaving can do.

After digging what seemed like forever I filled it with 1 inch size stone and tamped it down. Then cemented my first layer of cinder blocks right to the stone. The most difficult part of the entire project was using the correct amount of water for the cement and mortar.

If so I'm pretty sure you'll need to support whatever wall you are building so it doesn't eventually get pushed over by the earth. Maybe I missed something but I didn't see that covered in your post.
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