How to Build a Fieldstone Garden Wall

Happy Friday – are you ready for the weekend? Do you have any plans to work on the landscaping around your home?   If so, I have a project that can be done in a day or weekend with a little planning ahead.

I have gotten so many emails asking about the low fieldstone garden wall around the hydrangeas I posted about a few weeks ago that I felt I needed to create a post about how I built it.

Fieldstone-garden-wall-that-uses-on-mortar

I never posted about how I built the garden walls before as it is a project I DIYed at least 19 years ago.  I went to a free workshop at a landscaping supply company.  I remember it was on a weeknight so that landscaping contractors could attend. I was the only woman  and the only non-contractor in attendance.

Steps-needed-to-build-a-stone-garden-wall

I have built six. Two in my front yard and 4 in the backyard.  The one in the photo above is in my backyard.

Before-and-after-fieldstone-garden-wall

I am no landscaping pro, but have gotten pretty good at building them.  All of the walls I built have held up fine until this past winter when the crazy amount of snow and ice we had was too much for the age of the one in the front yard.   It was falling into the bed.

Garden-wall-design-ideas

The wall needed to be redone, so when I was cleaning out the bed for Spring, I took the wall apart so I could put it together again.  It was much easier this time and took  about 3 hours.

The reason I could take it apart and rebuild it was that I built the garden wall with fieldstones – no mortar was needed.

Mixed-Sized-Fieldstone-are-not-as-easy-to-build-a-garden-wall

When I first built the wall, it took longer since I had to dig a trench and then wheelbarrow the fieldstones from the driveway where they were delivered to the garden bed.

Flagstone-walk

I also have used Flagstones in the landscaping around my house.  Flagstones are flat and cut to the same size – usually rectangular. I used them as paving stones to walk on around the pool and grill.

Fieldstone-to-use-to-build-garden-walls

Fieldstones come on pallets. There are flat fieldstone pallets and mixed sized fieldstone pallets.

Pale-Grey-Fieldstone

I have used both, but prefer the look of the flat smooth stones shown above. They are more uniform in size and height which  makes them much easier to fit  together as you build the wall.

Laurel-Mountain-field-stone

I used Colonial Grey fieldstone, but they also come in a lighter rusty orange color called Laurel Mountain. These are mixed height stones.

When shopping for fieldstones, be picky.  Pretend you are a contractor and ask to see what is in the center of the pallet. In every pallet I received, the center was where big and uneven stones were hidden. Some can be broken apart with a hammer and pick axe, but the rest are unusable for building a garden wall.

The hardest part of the project is literally getting the stones from where they are delivered to your home – usually your driveway and getting them to where you want the wall.  Once the stones are where you need them, building the wall is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.

 

How to Build a Fieldstone Garden Wall

supplies needed: 

Pallet of Fieldstones – the amount will depend on how long and high the wall you want to build will be
Shovel
Hammer and chisel
Optional: Pea gravel and a bubble level
 
 
Bring all the stones to the area you are building the wall and spread them out so you can see all the sizes and shapes. 
 
building-a-garden-wall-tutorial 

1. Dig a trench around the bed.  You want it to be wide enough so two stones will fit side by side and about 4 inches deep.  This will make a stable base.

2. Optional: Lay a 1-inch thick layer of pea gravel in trench  – smooth it with the back side of a shovel to level. (I have only used pea gravel on one wall I built. I don’t have a photo of this step.)

how-to-build-a-garden-wall-with-photos

3. Start to build the wall with the largest stones as the base. The stones have dirt on them because I just dug them up to rebuild the wall.

garden-wall-tutorial

4. As you build each layer – try to find stones that will fit together. Use a hammer and chisel to create the size you need. I only needed to do this a few times.

how-to-build-a-stone-garden-wall-using-fieldstones

5. Complete each layer before adding the next- this will help keep the wall level.  If you want to make sure the wall is level, you can use a bubble level to check. I never used one – I just eye-balled it.

DIY-Landscaping-ideas

6. Use the flattest nicest looking stones for the top. For the ends – you can step-stone them so they end in the grass or you can butt the ends of the stones right against a sidewalk or building.

That’s it.  Done!  It is really not that hard and since no mortar or special tools are needed – the only cost is for the stones.

From time to time I have noticed a top stone has moved. It is simple to just pick it up and place it right back into place.

Peonies-in-the-garden

Now that the garden wall is done, I just have to wait for the hydrangeas to bloom, in the meantime, I am enjoying the peonies that just started blooming yesterday in my backyard…

Garden-landscape-ideas

…and the pink Verbena planted in a long bed. They will stay in bloom all summer.  By the end of the summer they will cover the entire bed.  They love full sun and are pretty drought resistant.  I found that out one summer when we had a drought. They were the only flowers I had planted that survived.  They are my number one bedding flower now   :-)

I have a few more beds to clean up for the summer, then I can just sit back and enjoy my efforts.

What are you up to this weekend? Anything fun or relaxing?

Whatever it is – Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Comments

  1. says

    Beautiful. I just love everything you do and this was such a wonderfully detailed post. I enjoyed the peeks of your yard and flowers too. My Verbena is going crazy this year already.. I might have to trim it back!

  2. RosieW says

    Wonderful looking walls, and good tips………especially inspecting the interior of the pallet. Would love to do this, but the logistics are against me – too far to haul the stone. Won’t rule it out completely, though. I could tote lighter loads! Keep open to the possibilities, right?!

  3. says

    Great post! one of my neighbors has a beautiful fieldstone wall he built himself. You made it look easy. Thinking where I might be able to add one…

  4. says

    I so desperately need to do this with stone I have left over from building our house. I think I’m in for a lot of chiseling though! Great post!

  5. says

    Lovely! I have some plans for landscaping our new home up north. I probably won’t get to start until this fall. Right now, it’s a large space with some nice trees with LOTS of potential.

  6. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Oh what a lot of work you did and then redid! I so applaud you….. gee whiz I feel old now. Those borders and wall is so gorgeous.

    You did a most fabulous job.

  7. Sue says

    Lovely!! When I i drive through an older part of Columbus (Oh) my favorite thing is seeing the old fieldstone fences. They’ve been there for decades! We just planted a hydrangea this year (my pyracantha didnt make it through this harsh winter, so we replaced it). And my peony had loads of blooms this year – first time!! Your flowers are an inspiration.

  8. Jan says

    We have one of these walls out front–I’ve heard them called roman walls, too. Ours is partly next to the driveway and it took quite a hit from the snowplow :-( I’ll get the energy to fix it someday!

  9. Ce El says

    Diane, Thank you so much for your clear instructions and tips. This is the low garden wall I’ve been wishing for. Your pictures perfectly illustrate what you mean, and the results look great. Your tip about the stones in the middle of the pallet is a good one. I bet the oversized ones are hidden in the bottom center.
    Thanks for your smart, well written blog.
    Ceel

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