Build Your Own Stone Wall
Stonewalls are a smart and relatively cheap way to add to a home’s decorative and resale value – permanently. Unlike most home improvements, stonewalls are apt to look BETTER with age.
Walls can be used along a home’s street fronting, around a patio or to set off different garden levels. Quartzite, bluestone, sandstone and many other varieties are widely available in precut, lightweight sizes that invite do-it-your-selfers to take a crack at wall building.
For the home mason there are essentially four types of walls. Each requires somewhat different tools and a different construction technique. Freestanding walls may be either wet concrete between the stones) or dry (no concrete). For retaining walls the same breakdown applies; wet and dry.
The dry, gravity type wall depends on the weight and friction of one stone upon the other for stability. For this reason, the stones would be flat and wedged tightly together. The alternate method calls for cement mortar to bind the stones together.
In either type, batter boards, twine, and hammer are needed. For a wet wall, a trowel, broom and tub for mixing the cement are also required. For the free standing wet wall, dig a trench a few inches wider than the base of the wall and to a depth of the frost level in the locality. Pour a footing 4″-6″ below finished grade.
When constructing a dry wall, use large stones for the first layer or “course.”
These stones should be bedded below the grade on a solid layer of crusher run.
Next, string lines to keep the face of the wall straight.
Now, construct two batter boards. These are wedge-shaped, flat on one side, sloping on the other. When driven into the ground at the edge of the wall they afford a quick check on the inward slope of the stones. For freestanding walls, the slope should be one inch for every two feet in height. For dry retaining, two inches for each foot; for wet retaining walls, one inch for each foot. Be sure the batter board is at right angles with the ground by checking with a level.
For best results, lay stones as they would lie naturally on the ground. Do not turn them on end. Fit them together as in a jig saw puzzle and keep the stones level on top. Try to build the wall up all at the same time for the entire length of the wall rather than building up first one section then another.
On the higher side, install a continuous drain tile filled over and around with course gravel. Cover with landscaping fabric to prevent soil from coming through the wall. Shrubbery and other plantings should be placed on the hill to check soil erosion.
Make the mortar mix from one part cement and two parts sand. Do not use dehydrated lime as it discolors the stone. Mix completely while dry, then add water until mortar slips cleanly for the hoe. You have about an hour of workable time before mortar sets. Test several stones in a section to see how they set before cementing. Some stones should be laid at right angles to strengthen the wall across. Save flattest stones for the top.
Before applying mortar, brush water on the stones to aid in the binding. Use enough mortar to fill the joints completely. After laying a section, poke out mortar from between the stones to a depth of a half to three inches. Brush off excess cement. When building a retaining wall, it is important to leave “weep holes” to allow water to drain from the upper level.
As a guide, a 94lb bag of Portland Cement equals approximately 8 shovels of sand. For example, a 2-to-1 cement mix as described above would be 16 shovels of sand and one bag of cement.
How to Build a Dry Freestanding Stone Wall the Right Way
Freestanding stone walls are iconic. It’s hard to imagine the rural fields of Europe or the farms of New England without them. Not only beautiful, they’re also a way to add something that is practical to your landscape. They can be used as fences for garden areas and to separate livestock paddocks. In areas where there is a lot of stone, they’re low cost to build.
The downside is that building a freestanding stone wall is backbreaking work. On the bright side, it’s a project that can be done over time. My grandfather used to work on building stone fences in the winter when other work on the farm slowed down.
Issues of practicality aside, I love rocks. The many different colors and textures get my creative juices running. As a child, I can remember hauling rock out of the creek with my grandfather in the cold winter. We had a Morgan horse who pulled a cart that we loaded up with creek rock. Then, we hauled the rock to the garden or horse paddocks for future walls.
Mortar or No Mortar
To mortar or not to mortar, that is the question. In this article, we’re talking about “dry walls,” which is the type of wall that you build without using anything but some rocks and your labor – no mortar required. A freestanding wall doesn’t have soil pushing against it like a retaining wall does, so it doesn’t need to be as strong. A dry wall can still last for centuries, however.
You can use mortar to “glue” a freestanding stone wall together. Mortar adds strength and durability. If you want your wall to look natural you can use a dark grey pigmented mortar and then wipe off the extra at the joints.
The advantage of no mortar is a clean, natural look, less cost and a wall that goes together quickly – provided you have a ready stone pile. With a dry wall, the strength comes via gravity and the stones fitting together to provide stability.
Where to Find Stone or Rock?
You may be laughing and thinking to yourself, why my
garden of course. Yes! Many of you may have an abundance of stone on your
property. You naturally excavate it while tilling or mowing.
Another great source of rock is if you have a creek on your property. The nice thing about creek rock is that it is worn smooth by the water action. Whenever you are working around the farm collect rocks and add them to your pile.
If you are purchasing rock, visit a local stone yard to see what types are available – they can also help you determine how much rock you need. The nice thing is that you can get it delivered right to your work site. No harnessing up the horse.
For a dry wall, you want a variety of shapes and sizes. Some rocks can be smaller than the wall width, larger stones should be the same width as the wall, oddly-shaped rocks can be used as filler, and flatter stones can be used as capstones.
Technically, you can build a wall with rocks and your hands, but these materials will make things a lot easier:
- Tape Measure
- Rocks (be sure to calculate how much you’ll need)
- Landscaping fabric
- Hand sledgehammer
- Rubber mallet
Set the Foundation
Freestanding stone walls are unique in that you don’t absolutely need to prep a foundation. You have the option of walking along the area where you plan to build the wall, removing any roots, plants or rocks, checking for any soft areas, and then tamping down the ground.
That said, digging and filling a solid foundation will make your wall last much longer, so it’s worth the effort.
Mark The Area
Use stakes, string, and a tape measure to mark out the width and length of your wall. Remember that you can build your wall in sections. Eventually, you might want to fence the entire garden but for starters, you may do one 20-foot section.
Dig the Foundation
Every wall needs a frost-free foundation if it’s going to last. Dig a trench 8-12 inches deep (or the frost-free depth recommended by your county engineer).
The trench should be about the width of your wall. The width of the wall is up to you, but it should be half as wide as the height of your wall for safety, so a 3-foot wall should be 1 1/2 feet wide at the base. If you plan to have a long wall, you might consider renting a skid steer or backhoe to move the dirt.
Line the Trench
To help with drainage and keep the gravel in check, lay down landscaping fabric along the bottom of the trench. The fabric should be wide enough to extend up the sides of the trench.
Fill the trench with gravel until you are about four inches from the ground level. Fill the gravel in two-inch sections and tamp down as you go. Keep going until the trench is full.
Tamp the gravel down firmly. This is an important step as it will give your wall stability.
Build the Wall
Sort Your Rock
This step makes it easier to find the right rock that you need. Sort your rocks into smaller piles based on size. If you have children, this is a good job for them. There are 5 types of stones you’ll use to build your wall.
Face stones are the large stones that make up the majority of your construction. Hearting stones are used to fill the interior and gaps in the wall. Capstones are the ones you use to complete the top of the wall. You’ll use footing stones at the base of the wall. These should be the largest rocks. Finally, through, or tie, stones are long stones that extend from one side of the wall to the other.
Build the First Course
Lay down your stone in two rows in the trench. Each row should be flush with the sides of the trench. If you have a gap in the middle, no worries, you’ll fill that area next. Use stones that are similar in height to make building easier when you move on to the next courses.
Have you stacked firewood? Think of laying stone as stacking firewood. When you look at a stack of cordwood you see the short ends of the wood. The same thing applies to the bottom courses of your freestanding stone wall.
Fill the interior gap and any gaps in the face of the wall with hearting stones. Note that hearting stones are NOT gravel, they should be larger than that.
Build the Next Courses
Next, lay the second course. Start with face stones on top of the two previous roes and then every few feet lay a through stone, also called a tie stone. These stones should extend across the width of your wall and are essential for stability.
As you go, make sure that you alternate joints so that you don’t have edges overlapping with the course below. This weakens your structure. When you use rocks that are different sizes you naturally avoid overlapping. Tap the stones in place using a mallet. Fill any gaps and in between the rows with hearting again.
Continue building your courses, fill with hearting stones as you go. Keep each course as level as you can. You should also be checking to make sure the face of the wall is even. You don’t want any distinct bulges. The wall can become more narrow as it gets taller, but it shouldn’t get wider at the top.
Don’t get all caught up in wondering which rock is the perfect fit. You can easily turn the project into a never-ending cycle. Grab a rock and go.
If you need to reshape a rock, use a sledgehammer and chisel to knock off a corner. Remember to wear eye protection as pieces of rock tend to shoot off in all directions.
On the final course, carefully select some flat stones for the top of the wall. The flat stones cover the fill rock and add a finished look to the wall. They also create more stability.
Finish Off the Wall
After you set your capstones, go back and examine your wall. You might have gaps and holes in your wall that you missed while building. No problem, just take some more of your hearting rocks and stuff them in those holes.
You did it – you built a beautiful and sturdy freestanding stone wall! Just remember you’re never done.
Like any fence, stone walls require upkeep and maintenance. Make it a habit to walk around your wall every so often and check for fallen rocks. Animals or children can cause rocks to fall down. A tree limb may fall on the wall. Replace any missing capstones.
Look down and check on your foundation. Is it weathering well and still firm? You can always tap rocks more firmly in place or add hearting where things are looking loose.
A Note on Safety
Remember to be safe when building your freestanding stone wall. Stone is heavy and can do some real damage if a large one was to fall on an unclad foot. Where solid work boots to protect your feet.
Wear gloves to protect your hands. I prefer to wear leather gloves but they do sometimes interfere with dexterity. Some people prefer nitrile gloves because they grip well, but they wear out quickly when working with stones.
Wear long pants and shirt sleeves to save your skin from abrasions.
Eye protection is vital. Pieces of stone can chip off and fly into the air. Eye protection is especially important when you are cutting or hammering rock to change its look or size.
The Last Word
Working with stone is satisfying because it gives you a great return on your investment and can last for generations. I find building freestanding stone walls particularly gratifying because they go up quickly and add a nostalgic look to a garden.
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Stonewall Pawn Structure
The Dutch Defense has become incredibly popular these days thanks to top players like Nakamura, Caruana and Magnus Carlsen, who occasionally implement it in their games.
There are several other strong grandmasters who regularly use this defense. Among them are Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo, American grandmaster Gata Kamsky, and grandmaster Anton Guijarro (also from Spain), who achieved success in the Dutch Defense, making the opening the main one in his repertoire.
But it should be noted that interest in this opening is mainly focused on the so-called Leningrad system, in which Black fianchet the bishop on g7 and then plays in the center and on the kingside.
In this article we are going to study the classic structure in the Dutch Defense known as the “Stone Wall”. The “Stone Wall” system has been successfully practiced by many of the strongest players. Among them are Steinitz, Chigorin, Alekhine, Capablanca, Botvinnik and Petrosyan.
Famous “star” defenders of the “Stone Wall” are Nigel Short, Yusupov, Radjabov, Kramnik, as well as the chess player, whom you should always remember as one of the “coolest” experts in this system – GM Viktor Moskalenko.
Tip: To improve your game, you need to not only study the opening, but also focus on positional understanding and endgame play. If you want to play endings well, I suggest checking out our course where we learn a lot of common endings. After studying these materials, you no longer have to guess about the winning approach. You will simply apply a perfected technique:
Start Chess Training
This system attracts the attention of leading masters as it gives Black an excellent opportunity to fight for the initiative against White’s 1.d4. The system is theoretically justified – black doesn’t do anything special in the opening. They establish control of the center with two pawns (d5/f5) supported by two other pawns (c6/e6), while the remaining pieces control the undefended squares and prepare to attack the white king.
Plans and ideas in the Stone Wall
There are several typical ideas for Black in the Stone Wall pawn structure. So, according to grandmaster Moskalenko, to understand this pawn structure, you need to remember the following key points:
- The best square for developing black’s dark-squared bishop is d6. As for the queen, it’s e7
- The queenside knight stands well on d7, defending the e5-square.
- The e4 square is a very important square for the black knight on f6.
There are well-known maneuvers in Stonewall – for example, improving the bishop on c8 with d7-e8-h5. In addition, there are several lesser known plans, such as advancing the A-pawn to attack White’s queenside. Sometimes black even fianchet his bishop from c8 to b7 to play in the center with c6-c5. As you can see, black has freedom of choice when planning his strategy in the middle game.
And now we will demonstrate three games in which black used each of the plans mentioned above.
Our first example was played out between two strong grandmasters of our time – Alexander Belyavsky (White) and Artur Yusupov. In this game we will see the plan Bd7-e8-g6-h5 with the idea of improving black’s light-squared bishop. A very interesting strategic battle, in which black eventually won.
Grandmaster Viktor Moskalenko won more than 50 Stone Wall games, so choosing one of his games for this article turned out to be a simple task. In the game against German International Master Matthias Roeder, Moskalenko used a somewhat unusual plan: he advanced the B-pawn to prevent White from exchanging his dark-squared bishop.
The last batch of the review is one of the newest games played at the top level in this system. During the Anand-Carlsen meeting at the Grenke Chess Classic in 2015, Carlsen quite surprised his opponent with his opening choice and quickly gained a very comfortable position.
In conclusion, we note that the “Stone Wall” is a pretty tough nut to crack. After all, there is neither a clear path to White’s advantage, nor even a specific way to avoid it. Arising positions are closed, which leads to a tense middle game; White has no way to simplify it, as in other openings. And so it is definitely worth a try!
Note: If you are striving for a sharp increase in your chess level, then you need to systematically work on all elements of the game:
- Positional play
- Attack skills
- Endgame technique
- Analysis of classic games
- Psychological training
- And much more
At first glance it seems that there is a lot of work to be done. But thanks to our training course, your training will be easy, efficient and with minimal time. Join the training program “Chess. Reboot in 21 Days, right now!
Stone Wall. Photoshop. Top Filters
This texture is one of the most popular both when working with three-dimensional graphics and in the process of creating printing projects. The drawing of a stone wall is an image of a set of stones of random size and shape, at the junctions of which an interlayer is visible.
On the Basic tab (Basic) of the Stone Wall texture settings window (Stone wall) (Fig. 2.14), you can specify the size of the stones (Stone Size (Stone size)), the height to which the stones protrude from the masonry (Surface Height (Surface level)), the thickness of the layer (Mortar Thickness (Interlayer thickness)), the color of the stones (Stone Color (Stone color)) and interlayers (Mortar Color (Interlayer color) ). Parameter Color Variation (Color variation) is responsible for the degree of variation in colors, and Grain (Grain) determines the graininess of the texture. As the value of the Grain parameter increases, the surface of the stone becomes rougher.
Fig. 2.14. Tab Basic (Basic) settings window texture Stone Wall (Stone wall).
On the Lightning tab (Lighting) of the Stone Wall texture settings window (Stone wall) (Fig. 2.15), you can set the direction of the light rays falling on the texture (Direction (Direction)), as well as specify the values \u200b\u200bof the parameters Highlight Brightness (Brightness of the light flare) and Highlight Size (Size of the light flare).
Fig. 2.15. Tab Lightning (Lighting) settings window texture Stone Wall (Stone wall).
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Brick Wall (Brick wall)
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Wall and ball
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The Lego wall in the Swiss office of Google, depending on the lighting, shows different Star Wars heroes Nikolai Maslukhin
A Lego wall in Google’s Swiss office shows different Star Wars characters depending on the lighting.