What is Dry Stone Masonry?
Dry stone masonry walls are the most sustainable and maintenance-free structures on Earth. The craft of dry stone masonry has been alive for as long as humanity and has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.
The term dry stone refers to a stone building process which uses no mortar or concrete to bind stones together. These super-durable structures remain extremely stable because all stones fit carefully to overlap each other. The longest dimension of each rock is placed lengthwise into the core of the wall, locking the structure together using friction and gravity. Stones of diminishing sizes are set within the wall, behind each face stone, for maximum strength. Gravel is never used behind the face of a dry stone wall as it does not provide stable support. Crushed gravel may however be used at a depth of between 2 and 10 inches beneath foundation stones.
Drainage is never a problem with dry stone walls as no water is trapped within or behind the wall. Water naturally percolates through dry stone structures to relieve the potentially destructive force of lateral hydro-static water pressure. Concrete and mortar retaining walls create an impermeable membrane and do not allow water to escape. Deep footer drains and weep holes within mortared walls manage the force of water behind a retaining wall but become clogged and hold water resulting in a short life span. On the other hand, dry stone masonry is free-draining by design. Historic dry stone walls can be seen along river banks and canal locks built hundreds of years ago.
Dry stone walls can be considered an option to concrete block systems because they are very comparable in cost and will last longer. Pressed blocks not only have a shorter life-span but also lack visual appeal and character of a natural stone wall. The stones used for dry stone walls are gathered at local quarries and delivered in bulk. This process does not deplete natural resources and does not involve massive amounts of fuel. Dry stone walls can be seen as a cost-effective and green alternative to concrete block walls.
We recognize the need for environmentally friendly building practices and have worked tirelessly to make this our area of expertise. Together we may work in harmony with the earth to achieve a legacy of sustainable craftsmanship for tomorrow.