Stone Retaining Walls in Seattle – Bringing Old-World Style to Your Home

Stone Retaining Walls in Seattle – Bringing Old-World Style to Your Home

I often hear from clients who wonder what they can do with their yard to give it more of a distinct look and shape.  Since most homes, when originally built, are made with only an afterthought of a landscape, more often than not the yards are designed with just a lawn, a few shrubs and a plain concrete walkway.

By incorporating a stone wall into your landscape, you get not only a functional feature that can retain soil or create a boundary, you also bring a visual focal point to the overall design of your yard and your home.  And when your stone wall is made by an experienced craftsman, the visual balance and artistry provides a sense of beauty and strength unmatched by any other kind of feature available.

Stone retaining walls are the most obvious and useful implementation of masonry in a landscape.  Maybe you have a raised front yard that needs some way of shoring up the soil that rises above the level of the sidewalk – many homes in Seattle are designed this way, and most of them have only the simplest constructs holding up their embankments.  Perhaps a bunch of old broken concrete chunks and stray rocks heaped in a pile, or a rather unattractive rockery wall with weeds growing throughout.

Imagine if that rudimentary wall was replaced with a new stone wall made of flat, rectangular stones carefully selected to fit tightly.  The method we most often use is called “Drystacking”, which refers to a tight-fit wall made with no concrete or mortar.  Instead, stones are made to rest on a bed of crushed rock which, when compacted, provides a very stable base which also allows for the passage of groundwater.  This crushed rock is also used to fill in behind the stones, and then gravity and friction keep it all in place.  This is an ancient form of construction that has been gaining in popularity over the past several years, and it has proven to be superior in function and style to the pervasive concrete walls of the 20th century.

This method of stone wall construction can also be utilized in a free-standing structure as well.  Let’s say you have a flat yard with no embankments, but you want to incorporate a drystack wall somehow.  By building what is basically two retaining walls back to back, this type of “gravity wall” can be made to a height of up to 3 or 4 feet.  And if there is a concern about long-term wear and tear (like in the case of a structure that will often serve as a bench), mortar can be discretely applied under the capping stones to provide that extra measure of security.

There are nearly as many choices of stone materials as there are ways of putting a wall together.  A stroll through one of our great local stoneyards will reveal a world of ideas and inspiration for your landscape design.  Isn’t it time you brought some of the pleasing qualities of stone to your home?  It can only bring more of a sense of pleasant permanence to your surroundings.

Mark Shepherd    www.ShepherdStoneworks.com

Bringing the finest in Stone Masonry to the Greater Seattle Area.

Natural stone walls, patios, steps and rockery of all sizes.

Mortared stone veneers, fireplace surrounds, and interiors.

Integrated landscape design and installation.

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