How to Build a Dry-Stacked Stone Wall

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Photo By Tonya McCahon
Create intimate spaces that ground the rest of your outdoor living area by building a stone wall.

As Jamie Durie showcases in this outdoor living room, stone walls can create intimate spaces that ground the rest of your outdoor living area. One easy, low-maintenance style of outdoor wall is a dry-stacked stone wall, which requires little more than a collection of stones in different sizes and shapes. Here are some abbreviated instructions from Get the complete instructions and watch a video tutorial by visiting and searching “stone wall.”

1. Start by staking out the area of your wall with wooden stakes and string.

2. Collect or purchase stones in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

3. Dig a shallow foundation trench about 8 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches wider than the base of the wall will be. Fill the trench with crushed “screenings” (crushed limestone, sometimes called “stone dust”) up to the original ground level, and level them with a carpenter’s level to create a solid foundation.

4. Begin to place stones to form your wall. Fit the stones closely together, and alternate large and smaller stones throughout. Your wall will be stronger if you periodically place stones large enough to span the entire width of the wall.

5. A general rule of stacking: One over two, two over one. In other words, when two stones are butted together in a layer, place one stone over the seam in the next layer.

6. Take special care at corners and ends to make sure seams never line up. Use larger stones at corners.

7. Keep a selection of larger stones to use as the top layer, or “capstones” of the wall. The extra weight helps stabilize the wall.