How to Build a Field Stone Wall

Building a field stone wall is rewarding but demanding work, so prepare yourself for the long haul.

Built with field stoneBuilt with field stone
A wall 2 feet high and 8 feet long can take several days to complete, with the size of the stones playing the most influential role. Large stones are heavy and awkward to move, even in a wheelbarrow. The upside is that they make an extremely durable wall that never has to be painted or stained.

Separate the stones according to thickness, then according to size. A piece of field stone may be 8 inches in diameter on one side but much narrower on the other side. This is another category for the stones.

Drive a stake into the ground at the starting point of your wall. Tie a string around the stake and walk in the direction of the desired fence line.

Drive another stake into the ground anywhere the wall changes direction. If the wall runs in the same direction for 20 feet and shifts on a 45-degree angle, drive a stake into the ground at that point. Connect the stakes with string.

Place the first stone at the desired place to start the wall. Place the next stone on the ground adjacent to the first. Continue this as you work your way around the property following the string.

Begin the second row after reaching the end of the first. If you have already chosen the stone pieces for the second row, you can start it when you start the first row--just remember to allow for the support for the second row by keeping the first row ahead of the second. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until the wall is the desired height.

Break the stones with a small sledgehammer to end a row in a designated spot. Strike the stones sharply with just enough force to chip away the unwanted section. This may take some practice.

Things You Will Need

  • Wood stakes
  • Florescent string
  • Red flags
  • Field stone
  • Wheelbarrow (optional)
  • Shovel

Tip

  • Dig only if the contour of the ground makes it impossible for the stones to lay flat on each other. Keep in mind that it will be difficult to make the rows even if you are using natural stones. Wear work gloves to prevent your hands from drying out from handling the stone for long periods. Carry the stone in a wheelbarrow to avoid injury.

Warning

  • Do not leave hand tools unattended in the presence of children. Always tie red flags on the string to avoid injury from tripping over it. Wear a back brace to avoid back injury when carrying the field stone.

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.