LEE REICH For The Associated Press If you feel like getting your blood moving â€” and with longer lasting effect than lifting dumbbells â€” go outside and lift stones. Make a dry stone wall â€” that is, one laid without mortar. A well-constructed stone wall can last centuries. Use it to create a terraced surface where a short, steep and dangerous-to-mow grassy slope once lay. On level ground, use a stone wall to better deï¬ne your terrace or driveway, or to create a garden "room." A stone wall also makes a nice backdrop against which to show off your bed of ï¬‚owers or shrubbery. And the wall itself can be a thing of beauty. Before you begin The prospect of building a stone wall can be intimidating. Aren't there all sorts of mystical rules for building stone walls? What about the sheer weight of stone that must be moved? Even though about a ton of stone is needed for every 30 square feet of wall face, you only have to move those stones one at a time. Or a barrowful at a time. When you purchase or gather stones, make sure to get only those that are no
heavier than you can comfortably move or so basic principles. Start out â€” most logically â€” from around. Also, purchase or gather some ba- ground level, with a good foundation. Dig out the ground sic tools. In to a half-foot, this weather, less if drainyou're probage is good, and ably already pour a couple of wearing gloves, inches of gravel which help preinto the resultvent nicked or ing trench. This crushed ï¬ngers gravel-filled when working trench creates a with stone. A solid, immobile metal pry bar or crow bar is AP Photo/Lee Reich base on which useful for those A well-constructed stone wall can last for centuries. to build. Then, build on ï¬nal nudges a Use that wall to create a terraced surface where a that theme of a stone needs to short, steep and dangerous-to-mow grassy slope settle it home. once lay. On level ground, use a stone wall to better good foundation by generally usO c c a s i o n a l l y, define your terrace or driveway, or to create a garing your larga stone might den â€œroom.â€ A stone wall also makes a nice backdrop against which to show off your bed of flowers est and ï¬‚attest need to be cut, or shrubbery. And the wall itself can be a thing of stones lowest in which you do beauty. the wall. As you by scoring it work upward, with a masonry chisel and hammer, then using the ham- taper the wall in on both faces of a freemer solo to clink the far side of the cut. standing wall, or on the outside face of a retaining wall, to make the wall less Wear goggles when cutting stone. inclined to collapse. For the same reaAnd up it goes The mechanics of building a stone son, lay ï¬‚at rocks so they have a slight wall can be boiled down to a half-dozen inward tilt.
Every time you put a rock in place, its ï¬t with its neighbors should be secure, perhaps helped along with shims of small rocks or handfuls of packed soil or ï¬ne gravel. For both appearance and strength, avoid lining up a joint in one course with a joint in the course immediately above or below it. With wall ï¬nished, what next? In addition to the space it deï¬nes, a stone wall opens up new opportunities in gardening. Alpine and rock garden plants thrive in the warmed microclimate and good drainage provided by crevices packed with bits of soil. Or use the wall as a "shelf" on which to display potted plants. The test of your wall will be next year at this time, when you see how it stood up to the ground shifting from frost. Or other disruptions â€” my cat tests my walls by tiptoeing along the ledge checking for loose stones. If all rocks stay in place, your wall will get prettier with age as it cozies up in its surroundings with the embrace of plants and kisses from mosses and lichens.