If you would like to add a finishing touch around the garden beds in your yard, consider adding a fieldstone garden wall. A low fieldstone wall has a rough, natural appearance that blends well with a variety of landscaping projects around your home.
No contractor, mortar or concrete needed to build a dry-laid fieldstone wall. This step-by-step-photo tutorial will show you how easy it is to this style of a retaining wall.
I am not landscaping pro, but if I can create a low stone wall around the garden beds in my yard, you can too. I have gotten pretty good at building freestanding, no mortar, dry-stacked stone walls.
Using fieldstones to create a low wall is a great way of defining gardens. The wall adds a decorative and functional element at the same time.
How to Build a Fieldstone Garden Wall
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 then using a wheelbarrow to get 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.
- Pallet of Fieldstones – the amount will depend on how long and high the wall you want to build will be.
- 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.
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.
Time needed: 8 hours.
How to Build an Fieldstone Wall Around a Garden
- Move Stones to Garden Area
Bring all the stones to the area you want the wall and spread them out so you can see all the sizes and shapes.
- Dig a Trench
Dig a trench around the bed. You want it to be wide enough so two stones will fit side by side and about 4 – 6 inches in depth. Doing this is needed to ensure the stability of the wall.
Note: When building this type of dry laid wall, I have found that creating a taller wall, you will need to dig your trench deeper so the wall has a good solid foundation.
- Add Pea Gravel
Optional: Lay a 1-inch thick layer of pea gravel or small stones in trench – smooth it with the back side of a shovel to level. (I have only used pea gravel on one wall I built.)
If the grade of the trench is on a slope, you can fill the lower areas with more of the small stone or crushed stone to level the inside the trench to create a level surface to start stacking the stones.
- Add Stones
Start to build the wall with the largest stones as the base. The stones in the photos have dirt on them because I just dug them up to rebuild the wall.
- Add Another Layer of Stones
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.
- Continue Add Layers
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.
- Add Capstones
When you reach the wall height you want, choose the nicest and flattest stones for the top of the wall.
If you are not making a full circle wall and will have open ends in your wall – 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.
- All Done
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 and pea gravel.
From time to time I have noticed a top flat stone has moved. It is simple to just pick it up and place it right back into place.
Building a stone garden wall into a curve instead of a straight line makes it look much more natural and inviting.
Add a Stone Walkway Around Your Fieldstone Garden Walls
To accent your garden wall, you can create paving stone pathways around or near then using, decorative stepping stones or flagstones and river rock.
Flagstones are flat and cut to the same size – usually rectangular.
More About Using Natural Stones in Landscaping
I used Pennsylvania fieldstone to build my garden wall, but they are not the only stone you can use to build natural stone walls. PA fieldstone is a particular type of fieldstone that has smaller, flatter stones. It has a dark gray color.
Most fieldstones come on wooden pallets that you can buy at a local stone yard or the home improvement store. These smaller sized fieldstones are good for building smaller scale walls with no mortar.
There are flat fieldstone pallets and mixed sized fieldstone pallets.
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 your wall.
I used Colonial Grey fieldstone, but they also come in a lighter rusty orange color called Laurel Mountain. These are mixed height stones that I find are harder to fit together and level.
If you are would like to make a stacked stone garden wall for your yard, I would suggest first taking a trip to your local stone yard and home improvement stores to see what type of stones are available in your area, as the selection can vary by the locale.
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