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Choosing Rocks for Building Stone Walls

When you go to the stone yard to choose your rocks, you might see piles of stone. You'll also see stones stacked neatly on pallets. Choose a rock that looks good for your project and one that you think will be enjoyable to work with.

Choosing the right rocks for building stone walls

When building a stone wall, it's important to choose the right kind of rock (stone). The rocks you choose will play a large role in how the stone wall will look when you're finished. Your stone wall can be formal or informal, imposing or inviting, depending on the rocks you select. There are a lot of stones from which to choose. From round types to square types, and from 'new stones' to 'old ones,' follow these tips for choosing the right rocks for building a stone wall.

Old and Weathered

Most of us would be insulted to be described this way. But when talking about stones, it's often a compliment. It seems funny to call some stones new and some stones old. They're all old. Really, really old. What new and old actually refer to are the appearance of the stones, not their actual age. If a stone is weathered or covered with moss and lichen, it looks old. If a stone looks like it just came out of the quarry all shiny and polished, it looks new. By choosing 'old' stones, your wall will look like it's been there for a long time.

Old and weathered rock can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, textures and colors. Some stones just look old naturally. Some stones may be reclaimed from old stone walls or buildings. Some stones having been laying in fields and exposed to the elements for a long time. If you like the old and weathered look, check your local stone yard. You can also look online for old rocks.

Big and Blocky

Rocks that are big and blocky give the appearance of strength and sturdiness. Rocks that are relatively square and rectangular are easy to fit together, which means your wall may go together faster than if you used more irregularly shaped rocks. You can build a stone wall with all big and blocky stones, or you can mix them with smaller stones. The use of smaller stones in the wall pictured here makes the wall feel more informal and softens its presence, making the landscape feel more inviting.

Round Rocks

While the stones pictured here aren't perfectly round, they have a generally round appearance. They are more irregularly shaped than big and blocky stones. Stone walls built with round rocks have a bit of country charm. While this stone wall was built recently, it has the same character as stone walls built hundreds of years ago.

In some parts of the country, these round rocks are plentiful. If these stones aren't indigenous to your area, check with your local stone yard. They may have round rocks in stock or be able to order them for you.

Round stones create beautiful garden stone walls or retaining walls, but they can be challenging to work with. Because of their irregular shapes, fitting them together can be difficult. Building a stone wall with round rocks requires patience and a lot of trial and error.

Mix and Match

When building a stone wall, you aren't limited to using a single kind of rock. Sometimes, it's fun to mix a variety of rocks together. This can really get your creative juices flowing. The stone wall pictured here was built with a large variety of rocks. There are large types, small types, flat types, round types, and irregularly shaped types. All this variety adds visual interest to the stone wall.

Not only can this option be beautiful, it can save you money, too. By mixing rock types, you can use rocks from different sources. You can find stones for sale online. You can find leftover stones on construction sites. You can find discounted stones at stone yards. Put all of these rocks together and you can build a spectacular stone wall.

Here's a tip: if you're going to be building a stone wall like this, mix your rocks together at the beginning of the project. You don't want to start the wall with one type of rock only to run out half way through and have to switch to a different kind. Or maybe you do. But take it into account before you start. Use this formula to determine how much stone you need to build your stone wall.

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