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Re: Dry Stack Rock Wall

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Joe,
 
I've looked into dry-stacked stone retaining walls and have found little that has been useful.
 
It seems like I once found a City of Seattle Standard; I seem to have misplaced it.  As I recall, it was a system of stones of varying size: the bottom stones were required to be very large.  It was not at all like the old walls that I had seen, that appeared to consist of fairly uniform sized stones bottom-to-top.
 
I have concluded that most dry-stacked stone walls that appear to be retaining walls, in reality, function as slope protection against erosion.  The slope behind the wall needs to be stable.
 
That said, here are a couple of references. 
1.  The Art and Craft of Stonescaping by David Reed, published 2000 by Lark Books, a division of Sterling Publishing [I got it from Amazon.com].  This has a chapter titled Dry-Stacked Retaining Walls, but it is not an engineering book.  It is illustrated with photos that are really good.
2.  The Art of the Stonemason by Ian Cramb, published 1992 by Betterway Books [also from Amazon].  This is a fascinating book, and will make you want to start building stone walls yourself, learning from the example of an enthusiastic and skilled mentor that the author clearly is. 
 
In March, 2003, Michael Hemstad, and Scott Maxwell each posted some emails with guidance on stone retaining walls -- they should be in the Archives.  I printed them and stuck them in one of my books, so I could fax them to you if you'd like -- let me know.
 
Nels Roselund
Structural Engineer
South San Gabriel, CA
njineer(--nospam--at)att.net
----- Original Message -----
From: Joe Grill
Sent: Monday, September 20, 2004 4:07 PM
Subject: Dry Stack Rock Wall

I have a client that wishes to do some retaining walls for landscaping using rock from the project site.  In one instance there is a lower wall that is 5’ high and batters about 2’.  The grade steps back from the top of the lower lift about 2’ where the upper lift of wall starts and is also about 5’ high with a batter of about 2’.  I would think this can be done, but, I don’t have any references that address the design for a dry rock stack retaining wall such as this.  I’ve looked through my library and checked the Corps of Engineers site, but didn’t see anything there, unless I just missed it.  Does anyone have a reference for this situation or any suggestions?

 

Thanks,

Joe Grill