Traditional stone walling has always looked good from the start of time. There is something about the symmetry of a well constructed stone wall that just seems to capture the eye. Especially the drywall stone. It takes a real skill to build a stone wall without mortar and see it stand the test of time. But it is nice too to see a stone wall with nicely pointed mortar joints which seem to highlight the natural beauty of each stone. How would you like a DIY stone wall that will cost you very little.
If you are close to an agricultural area you may be in luck. Every year the farmer prepares for a new harvest by cultivating his land. And every year there is usually a few more stones worked to the surface and in the way. The farmer will collect these and dump them with all the others that have been collecting for many years.
This pile of stones in one corner is usually quite large and grows year by year. The farmer, if approached nicely would be only willing to have someone come and remove this pile of stones and make more room in his field for growing stuff. If you can find enough farmers with piles of stones sitting in their way you have your stone wall or even stone house which has only cost you a couple of weekends and some carting.
There is one snag with these free stones and that is, because they have been underground for a long time they will be quite dirty especially if the land around there is the red kind that stains pretty well. I have seen this corrected by a home made tumbler made from a 44 gal. drum. This is filled with stones and water and run for a while till most of the stones are reasonably clean.
We are going to use the method of two shutters to build our wall which is a popular way and there is a lot of technical information on Google. Suffice to say here is that we use shutters about 2 feet high and space them about 1 foot apart. That will give us a 1 foot thick solid wall and is perfect for sound insulation as well as heat and cool insulation.
If we are house building we will have our concrete floor poured with some reinforcement sticking up around the perimeter. We will start with our two shutters set up and in with some stones. Select your stones as best you can and lay them against the shutter with the best face out and as close together as you can get them to fit.
Do this on both shutters and then fill the center with your concrete and keep laying. When the whole lot is dry enough to support itself, usually the next morning if you are in a cool climate, remove the shutters and get to work dressing up the concrete work between the stones. Point up all the joints so they really look smart and fill with some mortar any joints where the concrete didn’t come through.
Try and get these joints looking as even as you can and then place your shutters again and keep going. Eventually you will have a gorgeous looking stone wall that will be there for ever especially if you continue the reinforcement up inside the concrete.
The part that will take you the most time will be the pointing up of the joints the next day but that will make or break your job. Take as much time as you need and get this part looking right and you will have a job that you can be proud of for a long time. So there you have it. A beautiful natural stone wall that blends with the local colors because they are all local stones from the local earth.
Have a drive around your area and see if you can spot any big piles of stones sitting around in the farmers fields. And while you are out there, watch out for old farmhouses that burnt down or fell down years ago.
They will usually have a brick chimney or two still standing that the farmer would be quite happy to have removed for him. That way you can have some nice old red brick pavers for your driveway and paths too. DIY stone wall building can be very satisfying. Have a go and you will be happy you did.