Stacking Stone

The wall building project is now well along, with sections of completed wall and the outline what it will look like when I am done now apparent.

Tools ready to hand as work continues in the backyard
Tools ready to hand as work continues in the backyard

At this point there is 18 ft of completed wall, another 52 lineal feet of various height walls in various stages of completion from first course laid to nearly topped out. Another 11 feet will be started shortly to complete the first phase of wall building.

To create this much wall over five tons of rock has been loaded, driven 19 miles, unloaded, and hauled to the back yard. Twelve wheelbarrow loads per ton. About 70% of that rock has been stacked into the walls, the remainder in piles awaiting use.

The Explorer can carry about 1/3 ton of rock or concrete each trip, or about 650 pounds each run. The vehicle specifications rate the vehicle at 1,400 pounds of payload capacity, there is just no way I am going to push it that hard, even at 650 the truck wallows and sways enough to remind me of the heavy load in back.

A newly built stone retaining wall in the garden
A newly built stone retaining wall in the garden

At least the run from Waimea is downhill. I need not make any special trips, Rob’s back yard, the source of rock a couple hundred yards off my normal commute. Any day I am in Waimea for the day I haul either rock or concrete home for the weekend.

The gals at HPM have stopped asking me what I need when I walk up to the register, they just ring up another ten bags of concrete.

About one additional ton of rock has been dug up in the course of excavating the foundations for those walls. This rock has also been incorporated into the walls. As the local rock is not pretty it is used in the foundations and back sides of the walls where it will be buried again.

A veneer and rubble stone wall ready for concrete to be poured in the center
A veneer and rubble stone wall ready for concrete to be poured in the center

The walls are not dry stacked, rather I am using a veneer and rubble construction. I stack the face of the wall carefully, choosing the stones for fit and look. In the process I leave several inches in the middle to be filled with concrete and smaller rocks.

A few evening sessions of stacking takes much of the time, choosing and fitting the rocks. On the weekend I set up the mixer and pour eight or ten bags of concrete in one session to secure the previous week’s stacked rock.

I mix one bag at a time, which fills one bucketful. I then take a few minutes to trowel that into the wall, tamping it into the stacked rock to secure it in place. At my feet is a pile of smaller rocks, the rubble, ready to push into the wet concrete in the center of the wall. Every bucket of small rock eliminates the need for one bag of concrete

Ten bags of concrete each weekend, another ton of rock consumed as the wall grows steadily. Another month of wall building remains, another few tons await loading and hauling.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

4 thoughts on “Stacking Stone”

  1. Growing up on our Campgrounds I was always helping Dad build rock walls, fireplaces. Loved driving around looking for rocks. Looks good…

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