How to Build a Stone Wall at a Driveway Entrance
Stone walls complement the colors and textures of plants while adding structure to the overall appearance of a landscape. Building one at a driveway entrance makes a striking first impression and helps the driveway stand out. Dry-stacking stones is a mortarless installation method that results in an organic, classic look. Mortarless walls are also easier to remove or change if you decide to do so.
Mark the corners and curving points of the stone wall with wooden pegs. Knot one long string around each peg to connect them, and use this to guide the placement of your stones. Note that the end of the wall closest to the street should flare out from the driveway so drivers can turn easily.
Dig out a trench with a flat-tipped shovel following the line of the string. Make it wide enough for two stones plus 4 inches and as deep as the stones are thick plus 5 inches.
Spread 3/4-inch angular gravel over the bottom of the trench with the shovel. Tamp it with a manual tamper and add more until the layer is 3 inches thick.
Pour about 2 inches of grit sand over the gravel and smooth it out by brushing a flat board over the surface.
Place the first course by setting one large stone that spans the width of the trench, also known as a bonding stone, at both ends of the trench. Lay two flat stones on the sand bed so they’re parallel and flush against the walls of the trench. Work down the length of the site, setting stones so there’s a 4-inch wide gap down the center. Fill in the gap with small stones and tamp them down. Place a bubble level over each joint and wedge small stones beneath until the first course is level.
Lay the second course so the stones sit 1/4- to 1/2-inch in from the edge of the first course. Sloping them in on each side by 1/2-inch for every foot of height ensures stability. Position the stones so the joints are staggered from the first course. Wedge small stones between gaps and use a bubble level to verify the wall is even. Lay a stone equal to the width of the wall every 4 feet to tie the front and back of the wall together.
Make a slope gauge to check that the wall slopes inward correctly. Cut a 3-foot length of wood with a circular saw on an angle so the bottom is 1 1/2 inches wider than the top. Position the bubble level beside the wall so it sits plumb. Hold the straight side of the slope gauge against the bubble level with the narrow end down. Shift the stones as needed so they align with the angle of the slope gauge.
Continue to lay one course at a time until the stone wall reaches 3 feet high or less. Building taller than 3 feet can destabilize a stacked stone wall, and block drivers' sight lines as they pull in and out of the driveway.
Aurora LaJambre is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. For over five years she's covered topics in culture, lifestyle, travel, DIY design and green living for print and online media. Her publication credits include "WOW Women on Writing," "Six States" and Catalogs.com. She graduated from New York University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing.
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