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How to Build
A Dry Laid Fieldstone Retaining Wall


Choosing the fieldstone that is right for you will depend primarily on your taste and style preferences. At the Colonial Stoneyard we stock over twelve different types of fieldstone. The two basic categories are aged and quarried. Aged stone has been out of the ground for 75 years or more. There may be lichen or moss on the stone giving it that antique quality. Quarried stone has been recently taken out of the ground. The stone has a split appearance and a contemporary look.

The most popular types of fieldstone in our area are New England Flats and Rounds and the Native Flats. Gaining in popularity are several palletized stones: PA/NY Flats, Goshen wall stone, South Bay Quartzite wall stone and Connecticut Whiteline wall stone. For a retaining wall that is 18" wide, you need one ton of stone for every ten face feet of wall.

Crushed stone is needed behind and below your fieldstone wall. The crushed stone is important so that water will not be trapped behind the stone wall. The crushed stone ensures that your wall will make it through the winter freeze/thaw cycles without shifting. Approximately one ton of crushed stone will be needed for every three ton of fieldstone used.


  • It is very important that a fieldstone retaining wall be built on undisturbed soil. Remove 12" of earth below grade. Be sure that this area is flat and level. This 12" will provide a proper footing for your average size wall.
  • Begin to lay your fieldstone below grade. Lay 6" of stone. Use your largest stones for good base stability. For an average width of 18" (wall height no greater than four feet), lay your stone approximately 2 feet wide at the base.
  • Fill in with crushed stone. Be sure to fill behind your wall with crushed stone as you build.


  • Stagger your joints. As you lay the wall be sure to stagger your joints. This will give your wall a professionally finished look.
  • Create a "batter". Be sure to create a "batter" as you build your wall. For every 12" of height, lean the wall back by 1". This is essential in order to create a sturdy wall.
  • Fill in with crushed stone. Again be sure to fill behind your wall with crushed stone as you build.


  • Use large, heavy stones to cap your wall. This will ensure that your stones will not shift.
  • End at finished grade. The top of your wall should end at finished grade. This will allow heavy rains to run over the top of the wall.

MAINTENANCE: If you notice holes behind your capstones, fill in with crushed stone and earth. These holes are due to the natural settling process.