Just another WordPress site

Inspirational Natural rock wall landscaping ideas or how to create a functional retaining wall?

Inspirational Natural rock wall landscaping ideas or how to create a functional retaining wall?

Building retaining wall in your yard is not an easy task. If you’re not experienced with rocks or, generally, not a DIY person – trust it to the landscape designers or even engineers. But, if you feel that you’re ready for this – let me tell you what kind of wall you can make and how to do it.

Retaining wall is a necessity when it’s important to structure the area with different elevation levels. It can help you to stop the soil creep, form proper terraces or simply bring a bit of organized feeling to your garden. There’re two major types of the rocky wall you can make – a dry-stack or a mortar one.


Mortared stone wall

How to build rock walls landscaping? If you need the rockery wall that will be really strong and will withstand the weight of the soil leaning on it, the mortared wall is a preferable choice.

Let’s build it step by step!

  1. Make sure you have a clear plan of the layout of the wall, it’s height and width. You should lay the contour of the wall with the rope or landscape marker to have it visualized.
    Important! You need to know what size of the wall you are allowed to build in your area without special engineer approval.
  2. Now the hard work – you need to dig the trench. It should be around 6 inches deep.

    For the width, add 6 inches to the desired width of the wall. Don’t throw the soil you dig out far away – you going to need it later (find out effective ways of killing unnecessary grass).

  3. One of extremely important things that you should know whilst building rock walls for landscaping is proper drainage. If it’s not done – the water will destroy your wall or damage it much sooner, then you might think.

    To avoid this – add a layer of fill gravel in your trench, as a base for the wall. The gravel layer should be about 3-4 inches of depth and then it has to be tamped very good, so in the end it shouldn’t take more than 2 inches of your trench depth.

  4. Mortared stone wall - example

  5. Now you put your first row of stones, make sure they touch side by side and leveled properly with the torpedo level. Check both side-to side and front to back levels.
  6. Not all the stones will be perfect shape to level them with the others. If your stones are quite odd, you will need to rent a wet saw for cutting them (learn how to clean rocks properly? ).
  7. Now you can add to the drainage. Add gravel to the back of the first course of stones in the trench (there should be left 4 inches of width for this), tamp it slightly.

    Place the PVC drainpipe on top, with the draining holes facing down. Cover the pipe with some more gravel. Now cover the gravel with the GEO textile fabric, that will serve as erosion barrier.

  8. You have to line the whole back of landscape rock wall with the fabric. The best way is to fold it onto the dirt, with each new row of stones.
  9. Now you prepare the mortar and evenly spread it onto the base level of stones. Add the next round and don’t forget to tap them slightly, so they sit in mortar properly.

    Use the edge of trowel to clean excessive mortar from the face of the wall. Build the wall of the needed heights.

Basically that’s it. You’ve made a solid wall, that will hold the soil in place. One problem – it might be not too beautiful. But this can be solved by adding some landscaping – flowers or creeping plants will help you.

Dry-stack wall

Example of dry-stack wallNow, if you want the wall to be a decoration itself, you can try to build a dry-stack wall instead. That’s how you do rockery wall design:

  1. Same way as with any other wall, first, you need to make a project, set a layout and purchase the materials. There’re three usual type of stones you will use for this wall: round field stones, stacking stones (that are more flat) or cut dressed stones.
  2. Place the strings or mark any other way the place for the future wall, make sure you don’t plan a dry-stack wall to be higher than 8 inches, otherwise the stability will be compromised.
  3. Dig the trench for the stone base 8-12 inches deep. You can add gravel, for better drainage, but make sure it’s tamped good and leveled evenly.
  4. Put the biggest rocks in the trench, slant them back about 8 degrees. They should be touching side to side and be supported from the back by the soil behind. Tap the rocks with the rubber hammer firmly (learn how to move large rocks for landscaping).
  5. Fill the space between the big rocks with the small stones, make sure they fill the voids properly. Lay out the other layers of the rocks.
    Advice! Place the rocks one over two and two over one, like you would in the brick wall, this will give your wall more strength.
  6. Make the top of the wall straighter by placing cap stones, they can help the wall holding together and will keep the water away.

When done properly, the dry-stack rockery walls can easily stay on their places for fifty years or more, so absence of mortar is not always a weakness. But if you’re afraid you cannot lay the rocks good enough, you can cheat and add a bit of mortar in the core of the wall.

Just make sure it’s not visible from the walls face. Also we want to mention that this project is one of the rockery retaining wall designs since it helps to keep soil in place as well.


There are much more other creative rock wall landscaping ideas and some of them you can see on the pictures below:
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 6

Video tutorial

This short video is about how to make natural rock walls landscaping:

More design ideas for your yard


As you can see there is a strong connection between rock and wall landscaping, since wall could be not only the decorative element but also a helper. Landscaping with rock walls is exciting experience that does not have any borders, all you need is fantasy and imagination. Good luck!

No comments

Thank you! Your comments will appear after review.
Add cooments