Dry Stone Walls

While we handle all kinds of stonework and masonry, dry stone construction is our specialty and first love. Here’s why.

Dry stone wall detail

Timeless beauty.

There is something about a dry stone wall that attracts and delights people. Like a mosaic, thoughtfully placed stones create beautiful lines, curves, and rhythms. The finished wall is greater than the sum of its parts, the embodiment of elegant problem solving, chaos becoming order.

Long dry stone wall along a driveway

Enduring strength.

Dry stone construction is one of the oldest known building practices and has stood the test of time. Unlike a mortared wall, a dry stone wall can move and breathe along with New England’s freezes and thaws, and when built properly settles and becomes stronger over time. And if the wall does fail one day, it is easier to rebuild.

Top of stone wall with plants & vines.

Environmental harmony.

A dry stone wall is just stone—no chemicals or man-made products that can harm our air, soil, water, or wildlife. Stone walls help stop erosion, manage water, and provide habitat. Using traditional building practices centered around hammers and chisels further minimizes the environmental impact.

Principles of Dry Stone Construction

These sound building principles have been used for centuries. Simple in theory, they require time and patience to achieve in practice.

Place each stone across two others to make a strong joint.

Shape each stone to make good contact with all of its neighbors.

Run stones at least 1/3 of the way into the wall to keep them from coming out.

Fill spaces between stones with smaller "hearting" stones to keep them in place.

Lay stones level so they don't tip or slide over time.

Place each stone so the faces create one smooth plane.

Want to learn more about dry stone walls and building methods? Check out The Stone Trust  for many more resources.

Mortared Stonework

There is a time and place for mortar too. With interior work such as fireplaces and hearths, it is a must. We apply many of the same dry stone principles for added strength and beauty.

It may sometimes be appropriate to mortar the caps onto a dry stone wall too, particularly in situations where people need to step on the top of a retaining wall. When it’s needed, we use mortar sparingly and preserve the look of a dry stone wall.