Arbor Enterprises, a leading landscape design and installation company in Pittsboro, NC, is committed to providing the highest quality landscape maintenance, installation, and design services in the Triangle area. Retaining walls are a favorite among customers. With its many applications and design versatility, the dry stack wall is a popular choice for a retaining wall.
Professional landscape architects Chris Miracle and Tim Garland comment about dry stacked stone walls, “From the rolling countryside of Ireland to the mountains of Kentucky, the craft of building dry stacked stone walls has a rich history. Handcrafted stone walls dating back hundreds or even thousands of years can be found around the world. They are usually mortar-less, built of local stone, and reflect each area’s vernacular architecture and cultural heritage.”
North Carolina’s dizzying array of native stone gives voice to the “vernacular architecture and cultural heritage” of the state. The versatility of design, variety of stone, overall affordability, and ease of construction make this type of retaining wall an excellent choice for homeowners seeking to add depth, contour, interest, and practical functionality to their home’s landscape.
The Many Benefits of a Dry Stack Wall
Ease of Construction
The relative ease of construction makes a dry stack wall a great choice for the homeowner. Ease of construction does not mean that constructing a dry stack wall is effortless. On the contrary, any hardscape that involves stone is labor-intensive. Though a concrete footer is not required, a foundation for the wall still must be prepared.
Constructed without mortar, these walls can bend and flex with the movement of the earth during warming periods and frost. A trench dug down to native earth and then packed with several inches of gravel is a sufficient foundation. The individual stones must be moved to the location and then strategically placed in the wall. The digging, moving, lifting, placing, and finessing can be backbreaking work. Angular flat stone takes less time to fashion into a wall than the rounded river stone and fieldstone. The core of the dry stack wall is packed with the unused rock. A capstone along the top of the wall adds stability.
In some areas of North Carolina, country stone is available on site in sufficient quantities to build the wall without purchasing any materials. Landscape rock such as river rock, fieldstone, and flagstone is purchased on pallets in one-ton quantities and cost about $200 per ton. Most dry stack walls have a low profile since they are not mortared. The lower profile means fewer rocks are needed to construct the wall, thus reducing labor and material costs.
Do not think that the absence of mortar and geogrid results in a wall that is unstable or flimsy. A well-constructed dry stack wall with adequate batter, a solid core, and larger boulders as the foundation produces a very stable and durable structure.
Ancient dry stack walls served multiple purposes. Rocks in the soil needed to be removed so the land could be cultivated. A wall is a very efficient way to store unwanted stone, even in a modern Raleigh or Pittsboro suburb. The erection of dry stack walls served to prevent soil erosion while at the same time restraining unwanted livestock from destroying crops. A dry stack wall is warm, culturally rich, and historically evocative. The porous feature of a dry stack wall makes it an aesthetically pleasing way to control soil erosion while adding real value to a home, business, or other structure.
The design options for a dry stack retaining wall are as varied as the material selection. The homeowner, in coordination with the landscape designer, can choose from river rock, field rock, flagstone, manufactured stone, round rocks, flat stones, oblong rocks, small rocks, or large rocks.
Rocks come in a variety of textures and colors. Color choices include:
- soft, yellowish-brown of the native sedimentary rock
- brown, reddish, ruddy hues of river rock
- deep, rich blues of granite or North Carolina slate
- neutral grays of granite
- pearl white quartz
- khaki, brown flagstones
Consult with the landscape design and build team at Arbor Enterprises for material selection. They are well-acquainted with the various sizes, shapes, colors, and textures of rock material available to create a unique, rustic wall with echoes of ancient cultures from around the world.
Ancient dry stack walls served multiple purposes. Rocks in the soil needed to be removed so the land could be cultivated. A wall is a very efficient way to store unwanted stone. The erection of dry stack walls served to prevent soil erosion while at the same time restraining unwanted livestock from destroying crops. A dry stack wall is warm, culturally rich, and historically evocative.
Dry stack retaining walls have many applications, both practical and aesthetic. These applications include:
- aesthetic terracing to prevent soil erosion while allowing for drainage
- free-standing accent wall
- fire pit
- accent feature for a water pond, fountain, or waterfall
- raised garden
Contact the design and installation specialists at Arbor Enterprises for more applications.
As a full-service landscaping company, Arbor Enterprises offers grounds management, retaining walls, walkways, patio installation, landscape renovation (pruning, transplanting, mulching), pond design and installation, irrigation, pond care, lighting, and tree removal.
For more information about landscape maintenance, design, and installation, contact the office by phone at (919) 542-6765.