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Stone Retaining Wall

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A question way out of my expertise.

Hypothetically,  say one wanted to build a small retaining wall to retain a front yard which is 3 ft above the sidewalk.  The wall is going to be made of random pieces of stone (large cobbles) on the order of 50 - 75 lbs,  mortared together. (I.e. not stacked flat stone).

How does one do the engineering on it?  Does one do any engineering?  Do you treat it  as an unreinforced CMU wall?  Are there some rules of thumb to use?  

Also, since the voids betweens the rocks might be quite large, would you actually be better off using concrete (mortar plus large aggregate) rather than just mortar?

Gail Kelley

"Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes."  
Oscar Wilde, Lady Windemere's Fan.