ROCKWALL

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A stone wall can be a beautiful asset to your landscape, but building one requires research, planning, and patience. The first decision you need to make is whether you want a "dry-laid" (also called "dry stone" or "dry stacking") wall or a mortared wall — meaning whether your wall will be built only of stacked stone, or whether you will use mortar in its construction. This decision will influence the shapes and sizes of the rocks used in your wall.

Whichever type of wall you choose to build, the stone selection is crucial to the beauty and functionality of your wall. Selecting the right stone for your project will be impacted by availability, the location of your wall, and your own preferences.

Deciding whether to build a dry-laid or a mortared wall is important because it underlies every planning decision you subsequently make. A mortared wall requires a footing, usually embedded several inches into the ground for stability. Mortared walls can be easier to build than dry-laid walls because the mortar holds the stones together, which creates a more forgiving tableau when placing stones. The stones you select for your wall can be almost any size and shape, since the wall's structural integrity will not depend on them. Further, you can build the wall of almost any height.

Dry-laid stone walls, however, can be easier to maintain in the long run — if the ground shifts or damage to the wall occurs, you can simply rebuild it using the same stones. Further, they can be less costly to build since they don't require a concrete base footing and mortar materials. Dry-laid stone walls are generally no higher than four feet, so the purpose of your wall will be a consideration, here. They should, however, be built from stones that have flat faces and square or rectangular shapes; round stones will be more difficult to fit and layer without the addition of mortar.

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