Build a natural stone wall

Build a natural stone wall

the essentials in brief

  • To plan a natural stone wall, it is necessary to consider the purpose and construction of the wall. The cost and materials required depend on whether freestanding or supporting walls are to be built with or without binders.
  • Soft stones are slightly cheaper than hard stones. Choosing concrete blocks can reduce costs. Additional expenses arise for foundation and grouting.
  • A foundation is necessary for all walls. These can be bricked and grouted with mortar or laid dry. A wall covering is necessary in some cases.
  • In addition to additional building elements such as windows or lighting, natural stone walls can be embellished with plants.

What to consider before building

natural stone wall

Natural stone walls set accents and offer a habitat for animals and plants. At the same time, they take on a variety of tasks. In principle, it is not difficult to build a wall from natural materials. However, some considerations are necessary in advance.

also read

  • How to build a simple raised bed using drywall
  • Erect a stone wall as a privacy screen
  • Build a stone privacy screen in the garden

An overview of the possibilities:

  • Garden : wall for warmth-loving and drought-resistant plants
  • Slope : one meter high slope reinforcement made of shell limestone
  • Raised bed : bed border made of granite or sandstone
  • Edge of the property : surrounding natural stone wall, free-standing as a privacy screen
  • Terrace : natural stone wall on the slope to compensate for different soil levels
  • Inside : exposed sandstone masonry in the living room

With or without a foundation?

With a foundation, walls are generally more stable, so that they do not sink into the ground and thus prevent the wall from breaking apart. You should therefore not build a wall without a foundation. But with dry stone walls, you can do without a foundation in frost-free soil layers. So that the individual stones do not settle too much, a sufficiently stable surface made of gravel and gravel is sufficient. Small subsidence is harmless with this natural construction method.


Types of dry stone walls

These structures are the oldest form of stone construction, because the stacking of loose stones creates multifunctional objects. They were erected free-standing as pasture boundaries or as support for the formation of agriculturally usable terraces in steep slopes. The third form of dry stone wall is the lining wall, which is reminiscent of a retaining wall. It takes on functions of cladding or protection against erosion.

  • Friesenwall : Stacking of round boulders that are compacted with turf soil
  • Cyclops wall : irregular joint pattern, without horizontal joints, typical for the Mediterranean region
  • Tanca wall : layering of loose field stones, typical of the Balearic Islands
  • Premuiceva staza : hiking trail based on the irregular dry stone wall principle
Natural stone wall: Different types of walls

Free standing or supportive?

Supporting garden walls secure embankments that are at risk from landslides. They compensate for different height levels and are relatively wide and massive, since they have to withstand great pressure. The construction of these variants is significantly more complex compared to a free-standing natural stone wall. While stones are only stacked on top of each other in outdoor structures, the so-called embankment walls have to be backfilled with frost-proof gravel. They require a seal on the inside so that no seepage from the ground penetrates.

Dry stone wall or mortar wall?

A dry stone wall is the more natural variant, because reading stones are usually loosely stacked here. In order for this construct to be stable even without a binding agent, three aspects regarding the material must be given:

  • only use stones with a high dead weight
  • these require a rough and uneven surface
  • stones with an irregular shape that wedge together are ideal

With mortar masonry, the stones are connected by mortar, so that a stable structure is created. Natural stones that have been cut to size and whose dimensions match each other are better suited for this. Irregularities caused by the masonry can be evened out by grouting.

Dry stone wallMortar wall
suitable materialsSandstone, limestone, granitealmost all natural stones that have been cut to size
Expenditure of timehigh, as stones have to be stacked preciselyrelatively fast
purposeHabitat for warmth-loving species, for plantingSlope fastening, seating or stairs
unsuitable asSeat or stairsPlanting object
Wall headmeaningless, rainwater seeps into the jointsshould be shaped accordingly to allow water drainage

Materials and prices

natural stone wall

The costs incurred can only be roughly estimated, as they vary greatly from person to person. In principle, it is cheaper to get natural stones straight from the quarry. Deliveries are expensive because additional costs have to be paid for transport. The following table gives you an overview of the material costs for common stones.

ArtPrices per tonColoring and texture
graniteHard stoneapprox. 80 to 150 euroseven or uneven grain crystals
basaltHard stonearound 200 to 700 eurosanthracite to black, rarely with sprinkles
Shell limestoneSoft stoneapprox. 100 to 200 eurosbrownish to grayish deposits
SandstoneSoft stonearound 50 to 100 euroswarm orange and brown tones, Mediterranean
limestoneSoft stonearound 120 eurosfossil inclusions, porous surface

Additional costs

In addition to the material costs for the natural stone wall, you have to calculate additional costs. These concern tools and building materials for the foundation. Here you should reckon with costs between 100 and 150 euros per square meter, although this price can be higher depending on the preferred material or costs for skilled workers, equipment and tools.

Grouting - with what?

natural stone wall

Mortar is necessary for a concreted natural stone wall. Soft stones like sandstone or limestone need grout that is softer than the rock. A permeable structure is important so that water can seep through and the sandstone does not weather. A grain size of around two millimeters is ideal. With this mortar you have to reckon with costs of around three euros per kilogram. Hard rock can be grouted with a cement-based mortar mix. Here the price is around 60 cents per kilogram.


Grouting with trass cement

Natural sedimentary rocks or igneous stones, which are finely ground and used as a binding agent, are called trass. Such mortar mixes have waterproof properties and are used where the material is exposed to high levels of moisture, such as supporting embankment walls. Efflorescence, as occurs with conventional cement, is avoided. Trass cement is characterized by its flexibility, which is retained even after drying. So there is no risk of cracks forming in the joints. In addition, the natural stones do not discolour.

Comparison: natural stone or concrete stone?

In addition to natural stones, there are now also variants made of concrete that are modeled on natural bricks. Concrete block is an inexpensive option compared to natural stone. You can expect costs starting at around 40 euros per square meter per square meter.

That speaks for concrete block:

  • Look : sanded smooth, wood or natural stone grain
  • Properties : robust, durable, resilient and frost-proof
  • Special features : available with or without sealing

Build a natural stone wall

If you want to build a drywall, you don't need any materials to glue or bond, such as cement and concrete. Here the stones are simply piled up loosely. It looks different with a concrete wall with natural stones. If you want to build this variant yourself, you have to reckon with a higher workload.

Build the foundation

natural stone wall

Every garden wall needs a foundation, because this gives the structure stability. If you are planning a wall up to half a meter high or a dry stone wall, a layer of gravel 40 centimeters deep is sufficient. Mortar walls or building projects that are to be taller get optimal stability with a concrete foundation at least 80 centimeters deep. This depth is necessary so that the massive foundation is not blown up by frost in winter.

How to build a concrete foundation:

  1. Define the course of the wall with wooden pegs and guidelines
  2. Dig a trench 20 centimeters wide along the guide
  3. Fill the trench up to 60 percent with frost-resistant gravel
  4. Compress material again and again
  5. pour the remaining 40 percent
  6. Lay the first layer of stone while the mortar is still damp

Special feature: concreting natural stone walls with an incline

Many dry stone walls are filled with earth on the inside. With this variant, it makes sense that the concrete foundation is inclined slightly inwards. This way the water can drain off better. If you are exclusively using natural materials such as gravel and crushed stone, there is no need to pay attention to the slope.

Building free-standing natural stone walls - Instructions

The laying of naturally shaped stones requires a bit of skill, because the uneven surface will quickly get you out of sight. In order to avoid tilting, you should erect a form of boards. This enables two layers of natural stone to be stacked on top of one another. You then have to wait several days for the mortar to dry. The casing is realigned with each work step. If your wall is to be wider, you can fill the interior with a mixture of coarse gravel and lean concrete. Finally, you process the most beautiful stones as a wall crown.

Grouting the natural stone wall

Brick objects are grouted to create an aesthetic finish. This is the case, for example, with flower beds and slope fastenings. You can also stabilize non-masonry structures by pressing grout into the spaces between the bricks.

  • Moisten the wall well so that the grout does not set too quickly
  • Using a trowel, pull the grout over the joints from bottom to top
  • Grout must be pressed evenly deep into the joints
  • Work excess mass into the joints with a sponge
  • after the grout has set, rub the joints to an even height

Dry laying of a plantable natural stone wall - set stones

A casing is also helpful with this variant so that you can align the stones correctly. Set the stones so that they fit together perfectly and wedge together. If you plan to plant the wall later, fill the joints with loamy sand or nutrient-poor soil. The interior is filled with crushed stone or gravel and compacted. Finally, design the top of the wall with a layer of 20 centimeters of topsoil. Here you can later plant overhanging and creeping plants.


You can also do without sand as a grouting material if, for example, you are designing a drywall without gravel filling. All you have to do is place the stones on top of each other to fit exactly. Make sure that the wall tapers slightly towards the top.

Covering the natural stone wall

natural stone wall

Concreted walls that do not have an irregular wall crown must be protected from rainwater with a wall cover in accordance with DIN standard 1053. If you forego this construction measure, rainwater can penetrate and wet the wall. After a few years, the stability of the wall would be at risk. This design is not required if your wall has a slope.

Shapes of covers:

  • easy installation with sheet metal covers
  • Natural stone covers are also available
  • Monk and nun bricks create a Mediterranean character

Additional components

Natural stone walls can stand on their own or be embellished with various construction elements. An integrated window gives high privacy walls a Mediterranean character. A waterfall made of natural stones looks particularly natural. Fences and light elements are also possible. The imagination knows no limits.

Fasten the fence to the natural stone wall

If you want to build a fence on the wall afterwards, you need post bases. These must be firmly connected to the wall so that the fence is stable. You can either fix the post bases with a dowel or glue them in place. For this it is necessary that you drill holes in the natural stone with a masonry drill. For the adhesive variant you need synthetic resin cement or special adhesive that hardens massively and offers a long-term hold.

Integrate lighting

Lighting elements set into the masonry look particularly beautiful. For this you can use in-ground spotlights that are cast in with epoxy resin. The material is waterproof and protects the technology. If possible, you can also place artificial stones between the natural stones. These can be cut out or opened before the wall is built so that you can use LEDs as you wish.


So that you can expand the lighting if necessary, you should joint artificial stones with silicone.

How to plant a natural stone wall

Plants beautify masonry that provide a substrate for growth and have not been grouted or plastered. If the stones remain largely visible and are not completely overgrown, you create an aesthetic contrast. This habitat places extreme conditions on plant growth, so that not every species is suitable for planting. The selection of plants that grow on and on dry stone walls is huge, despite the extreme conditions.

Important to note:

  • do not plant too densely
  • Choose drought-resistant plants
  • Creepers can cope with the limited amount of soil

Leave space in the joints

natural stone wall

You can place plants in the gaps during construction or integrate them after the drywall has been completed. In the latter case, when building, you need to make sure that the joints are sufficiently wide. Most plants do well when the gap is about two fingers wide. There are species that also get along well with less space. If the joint is deep enough, two to three plants within a few centimeters have enough space to grow.

Instructions for planting:

  • Divide large roots, shorten roots if necessary
  • Place species as deep as possible in the joints so that they can anchor themselves
  • Fill in the gaps with substrate
  • water well but proceed carefully

Wall planting

The south side of the wall is heated by sunlight during the day and stores this heat until it is released again at night. The stones work like natural heating and offer Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, rosemary and thyme an optimal habitat.

Plants for the sun:

  • upright perennials: bluebells, St. John's wort and carnation
  • Carpet-forming species: blue pillows and carpet phlox
  • Overhanging plants: gypsophila, cinnamon and sedum plant

Moisture-loving species feel at home in more shady areas. There is enough space here for mosses and ferns such as potted fern. Moss saxifrage, Waldsteinia, toadflax and rock cress or the early-blooming lark spur provide color accents. These plants thrive ideally in partial shade.

Plants for the top of the wall

Evergreen plants and cushion shrubs are ideal for the plateau on the masonry. Mix upright perennials such as the cushion bellflower and woolen ziest with creeping or hanging species. Andean cushions, Delosperma species or silver hues are ideal. These store moisture under their dense cushions and in this way compensate for strong fluctuations that are favored by changing temperatures.

Numerous plants are specialists that are adapted to the extreme location of dry stone walls.

frequently asked Questions

How can I clean a natural stone wall?

Cleaning depends on the degree of soiling and the material used. Sandstone and limestone are sensitive and should be cleaned gently with a soft sponge and water. You can soak stubborn dirt with a mixture of water and curd soap. If mosses, algae and lichens have already spread, you can scrape them off with a hardwood stick or carefully with a spatula. You can use a harder brush for hard rocks. Joints should be cleaned annually with a high-pressure cleaner (€ 85.90 at Amazon *) so that no moss settles.

What do I have to consider when renovating?

Before every renovation, there is a thorough cleaning. It is tested one after the other to determine which procedure is a suitable method for the material available. No material is removed during dry cleaning, which is important for soft stones. Harder soiling usually has to be removed with wet or blasting methods.

To prevent renewed contamination, a coating with fine wax crystals is recommended. If you want to restore grout, you need to scrape the old material out of the gaps as much as possible. Special restoration mortar is suitable to compensate for larger imperfections.

Does it make sense to plaster the natural stone wall?

Plaster can make aging natural stones disappear. Time leaves its traces, especially on the outer walls, so that moss growth sets in or the stones slowly weather. It is easier than plastering if you cover your garden wall. There are various weatherproof options made of natural stone or plastic.

Which joint course is the right one?

Cross joints should be avoided, as they cannot withstand the pressure of layered stones or the earth behind them. Staggered gaps that loosen up the overall picture are better. These can be designed regularly or irregularly. In the uniform design, all stones on one level have the same height. More variety is created by using stones with different shapes and dimensions.