This was a fun project building a short retaining wall for wonderful new cabin on South Pender Island. I used all local sandstone, which is nice to stack, and has beautiful colours. The wall has a curve along the entrance side, which gives it more strength, but also diffuses some of the straight lines from the house as the landscaping moves out into the forest. I started by digging out the area for the wall, down to undisturbed soil,
and leaving a few inches for drain rock around the cabin perimeter. Big stones are set along the base of the wall and packed into place with backfill. Then I could start working my way up, overlapping the stones carefully between each layer to give the wall its strength. Its always a good idea if you have some bigger or longer stones to integrate them throughout the wall to again add to the strength of it.
I think drystack stonework is a really good choice here on the west coast where it is very wet much of the year. The drystack stonewall will let water pass through, and slowly shift with the changes in the landscape over time. I have found mortared walls that are not done with serious foundations and proper drainage behind and through the wall, will crack along the mortar joints over time, and get pushed up or drop with changes in the landscape.
I like drystack stonework because it is less labour intensive, uses no cement, and really fits well with the local landscapes here. If done well it will last a long time, but it can also be easily removed and left back to nature. Sometimes its good to leave a light footprint where we can….