If your home or business features waterfront access, then you know how important it is to protect your property from the potentially extreme, damaging power that water creates. From waves that pummel the shoreline to sitting water that may be a breeding ground for bacteria or haven for mosquitoes, the ideal solution is a retaining wall made from armor stone landscaping.
Armor stone is a type of limestone blasted out of the earth in quarries and is used on shorelines and banks to prevent erosion and other damage caused by the natural back-and-forth action of large waves. These stones are key features seen on jetties – structures used to direct the flow of water — in large rivers, coastal shorelines and parallel to the downwind shores of major lakes leading to lighthouses and other structures close to water.
Because armor stone landscaping is derived from quarries, the stones themselves can be cut to different sizes, normally between one and three feet tall and weighing two tons or more. Each stone comes in different colours, ranging from grey to brown to yellow to shades of blue.
In most cases, building a retaining wall requires an experienced company with the proper equipment, particularly when large armor stones are being used. Remember, armor stones can weigh several tons each and must be moved with caution. If you’ve decided to build a retaining wall using armor stone landscaping or other types of rocks, here are some tips to follow to make the project a success.
- Decide how much stone you’ll need, which is derived by calculating the cubic area of the wall itself. To do this, multiply the length of the wall by the desired height, which allows you to determine the square footage. Next, take the square footage and multiply it by how thick you want the wall to be, resulting in the cubic footage.
- A retaining wall can never be created by laying the stones on the grass or other flat surface. You must first dig a trench, which must hold at least six to 10 inches of firmly compacted gravel – or enough so that half the height of the first layer of stone is below ground level.
- Always use the biggest stones for the base of the retaining wall. It’s a good idea to sort the stones by size, grading into large, medium and small, with the smallest stones ending up as the top layer of the wall. These keep the wall balanced.
- When building a retaining wall, make sure the stones lean very slightly toward the slope.
- The final step is to cap the top of the stone wall with mortar, then put down another layer of thinner, flat stones on top. This should occur for the entire length of the wall, and the top stones should be tapped in place with a rubber mallet.