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Remodeling and Home Design

Tim Wheeler Masonry Construction, Stone - Cast, Seattle, WA

Licensed | Bonded | Insured


Tim Wheeler

Seattles Best Masonry

Stone Retaining Walls Seattle

Dry-Stack Retaining WallOne of the very best ways that you can build a retaining wall is to build it with a dry-stack or dry-stone method.  As a masonry contractor in the Seattle area for over 25 years, we have been involved in the construction of many dry-stack or dry-stack retaining walls.  Here are some of the reasons that you would want to consider using a dry-stack retaining wall, over other methods of construction.  In the Seattle area we have an abundance of natural native stone that can be used to fit in with our natural landscape.  Some of the most beautiful stone retaining walls that i have ever seen are built right here in the Seattle area, with natural NW landscaping Stone.  These stone retaining walls can be built in several different ways, but the dry-stack method is by far the best way to build a retaining wall.  Let's start with cost of a dry-stone or dry-stack retaining wall, even thou its one of the strongest and most natural looking retaining walls it needs no foundations under it, and its also one of the best value for the money.  The reason for this is that almost every other type of retaining wall needs to be placed on a foundation, and building a foundation for a retaining wall can cost up to 30% more.  So we have just saved about 30% of our cost for our retaining wall and it looks natural and beautiful to, but how can it be one of the best and strongest retaining wall when it doesn't have a footing or foundation under it?


dry-stack or dry-stone retaining walls have been built for thousands of years in almost every country in the world, and a lot of them are still standing, the main reason for this is that they can flex and move with there natural surroundings.  Here in the Seattle area we have an earthquake ever so often, and when this happens a concrete retaining wall can crack or give way.  The beauty of building a dry-stack or dry-stone retaining wall is even if it was a massive earthquake and a few of the stones came out, it would be quite easy to replace them back  in the retaining wall without rebuilding the entire wall.  The next reason that a dry-stack stone retaining wall works well here in the Seattle area is that even the strongest and best built retaining wall must let water pass through or around it or it will fail.  For this reason a good water release system is needed to reduce the hydrostatic pressure on the back side of the retaining wall.  Every retaining wall should be in stalled with drainage behind it, this is done by placing a drain pipe behind the retaining wall at the base of the wall, next place gravel and a drain cloth over the pipe.  This will let the water that builds up behind the wall run out and around the retaining wall.  This is especially true if the wall is built from concrete, block or other non pores materials.  If you are using the dry-stack or dry-stone method of building a retaining wall a drain pipe may not be needed as the whole wall will let water pass through it, very much like it would in nature, this is especially true in a smaller wall of less then 3 feet high.


If your retaining wall is quite small you might want to try your hand at it, but if you have a large area of soil to retain, or the retaining wall is higher then 3 feet then it would be a good idea to call a professional masonry contractor to plan and build your retaining wall.  Some of the things that you would want to consider is what type of rock or stone would look best in that location, or what shapes and color would go best.  Here in the Seattle area we build garden walls that need to hold our raised beds and plantings, with stone steps and walkways running through them.  We may terrace a small bank of soil so as to soften the lines, or place a soft rolling inside curve in the wall for extra strength and beauty. At times a buttresses be needed to hold an outside curve, this is a greater place to include a extra large boulder in the stone wall design along with a planting or small tree.  A set of stone steps that run up and through the the dry-stack stone wall can also act as a strong buttresses as well as provide access to the upper part of your property, make sure to off set the steps at each level.  It will create a little extra mystery if the way up is partially hidden.  As with all dry laid stone walls and steps they will be self draining, they'll let the water pass through as well as slow down the speed of the water on its way down hill.  With Your planting and the dry-laid self draining stone retaining walls and steps you can have a multiple benefit of stopping erosion on your terraces and hillsides, and creating a dry-stack stone wall that can live on for hundreds of years after us.  Please take a moment and view our beautiful picture gallery.


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