Thursday, April 29, 2010


What are the things we should think about before we 'dive in' to building a dry stone wall?

When building with a random selection of stones it is important to think 'restraint'. You will want to save stones for the top copes and the ones with any length for the ends of the wall (cheek-ends). Flat stones are valuable for bringing the wall up to level before you add the coping too. Stones with good shapes are likely to be the ones you want put in the wall before any of the awkward looking stones, but by not using these “good ones” right away you will have a nice selection throughout the extent of the wall. It is often a good idea that you lay out your stones in distinct piles; normal building stone, coping or flattish stone, through stones and hearting so you get a feel for the variety of sizes and shapes you have to choose from, and that you don't use up any good corner stones or the longer flatter stones to quickly.

When working with others on a large stone wall project it is important to communicate and agree together to save these valuable (and sometimes scarce) 'well-shaped' stones. This way, working together or even alone, we not only get a well built wall but we learn the value of restraint. Using or re-using local stone instead of insisting on having expensive stones trucked in is another form of restraint. A willingness to refrain from rushing, but rather take a little longer to fit awkward or challenging stones together, can often make the difference between a good looking wall and a bland wall. It is this exercising of restraint, even on such a small thing as building a dry stone wall which carries over into our daily lives and then perhaps into the larger areas of concern, including the ecological well-being of this planet.

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