Sunday, January 12, 2014

Alesia Road Millers MD, Retaining Wall Project 2013

I've had my eyes on a barn foundation in my area for some time. Each time I would drive by the folks home I would check to see if any one was home in the hopes to acquire the stone foundation. One day I got lucky!  I asked the home owner if by any chance they wanted to let go of the foundation. The answer was YES!!! Nothing like scoring local stone. 

The home owner asked what it might cost to build a retaining wall in this open gap. I suggested we just do a swap. He loved the idea. I always love a good story.

Now this sitting stone barn foundation will find a new lease on life. I like to repurposed stone as much as I can.

The best part of a stone structure is that some one has touched each stone already. Each stone has been picked and chosen for placement. Next on the list - go pick up all this stone and bring it back to the farm. YIPPIE can't wait.... can never have to much stone.

So I started the dig out with the my Toro Dingo DX 420. I did find a few things as I did my digging. One of which seemed to be an inactive pump line. You just never know what you'll find when you dig. Remember to always call Miss Utility 811 before you dig it's the law!

The biggest issue with this build was tying into the old mortared wall which has built vertical. I built dry with out mortar and used a batter of 1/6 for the project.

I picked all my larger stones to build a protruding foundation below grade.

The last wall I built before this one was the Merrysman Mill Road. The best part of this job I was able to bring all the unused stone. The other wonderful part of this job was I was already warmed up to this stone - letting me jumping right in and building with out any delay. My frames are on each end but with enough room to get my hands in around them. The side to the left which touches the house is being built as a wall end.  As they say in wood work dove tail. Not that the house would ever be taken down but the wall is not using the house as a support as I build.

The small blue pallet and buckets have all my small packing stones. Making it easy for me to move them around and keep the site clean. You will also notice I keep my stone close at hand. The more you have to move to get stones the longer it takes to get the job down.

On the left the mortared wall I'm simply do my best to lock into the wall. It could fail or fall apart before my wall but at least with my wall it can always be taken apart and rebuilt as long as you have 2 hands.

I was half tempted to set up the air hockey table and play a few rounds but I had no partners to make the game interesting. As you can see in this picture I've kept a clear path to get into the wall now with a machine. As I'm working higher up I'm just about ready for the flat cap stones I'll be placing. I keep as many of my large stones off to the side. Finding large stones doesn't come easy. So any time I find them I set them aside - Knowing I'll need them later.

All the caps are now set in place. As some might say rustic. Key is using all the stone. You can really see in this finished picture the section of wall closest to the house and how I've locked in the end of the wall with the new build. This was some very small stone so it took a little time to place each stone. The larger the stone the faster your wall goes up.

I regraded the top of the wall with some of the dirt I took out and still had left over. That never seems to happen. In the photo you can see an original stone foundation by the tractor then the newer built slapped together mortared wall behind the air hockey table. The home owner was so pleased with my work. Everyone that sees this asked why didn't I do all of the wall? Well good question but just one simple answer - "if it ain't broke don't fix it!"


  1. Nice swap, I think you got the better end of that deal..but not because of your work. The wall looks great, nice to see you working with some different stone too.

    That mortared section looks DIY to me. If that was built by a professional mason, maybe they should have been a carpenter or something.

    1. LOL... Carpenter.. sad that work like this gives every true mason a bad image! I AGREE ON THE BETTER DEAL. See how I feel once I distract the stone from the marshy area its been sitting. I really enjoyed working with something so different for a change - great knowing it come from my property...just sitting back in the woods in one big pile. Now it has a job to do! Thank you for your comments means alot. One day soon I'm going to learn that mortar stuff I promise just like you said I should.

  2. Love the good photos and commentary, I like the good amount of detail you give , it helps a lot when you are new to this stuff.

    1. Thank you again for the comments and following my blog, I feel if I have enough photos and copy those who want to read can those who don't can just look at the photos. I'm one of those who like to look at photos to see how others work. Since I don't have anyone else in my area to watch. So don't worries I'll never stop. I still have a stock pile of projects to come. I''m sure some might get tired of looking but to me I feel its important to keep it coming. What ever is on my mind.