Are Your Stone Walls Installed Correctly?

A stone wall adds function and eye-catching aesthetics to your yard. When installed properly, your stone wall should stay in place and maintain its beauty and functionality for years to come.

Stone walls need to stand up to pressure from soil and water, so strength and durability are critical to their longevity. A landscape contractor plans, designs, and installs the wall to hold ground in place, preventing erosion and flooding in your yard, but will need to follow several specifications to get the job done correctly.

What Your Stone Wall Needs to Last Long-Term

A licensed, knowledgeable landscape contractor has the expertise to install your stone wall correctly and to code to ensure its longevity. Your contractor will install a stone wall so it:

Aligns with Local and State Building Codes

First and foremost, your stone wall will need to meet local and state building and other pertinent codes. Many states or localities require building permits and have guidelines regarding soil load requirements, installation near walkways, and final inspections.

Meets the Specifications of the Design Professional or Manufacturer

Your landscape contractor needs to work within the specifications of the stone manufacturer when installing your wall. If a professional other than the landscape contractor designed your stone wall, your contractor also needs to follow the designer’s specific guidelines for installation, including measurements, location, and other details found in the blueprints. As a client, you have the right to access manufacturer and designer specifications before and during installation to ensure your contractor follows the plan.

Sits Deep Within the Ground

Retaining walls need to sit deep enough in the ground to give them a sturdy base that will hold dry or wet soil. In many cases, a contractor will need to bury the first course of the retaining wall to ensure a durable hold. A state’s contractor licensing board often provides specifics for embedding retaining walls.

Construction on Level and Well-Compacted Ground

Without level and compacted soil, there’s a higher risk for erosion, which could cause your retaining wall to sink or pieces to break apart over time. The construction of a stone wall on flat, compacted ground allows each course to fit together tightly for a more durable build.

Meets Reinforcement Guidelines

There are many specifics a contractor must consider during a stone wall installation, including preventing moisture coming between stones in the structure, using backfill behind the wall to prevent bulging or cracking, and  the latest change, constructing the wall so that stormwater runoff flows over it and doesn’t clog the drains behind the walls that are only to prevent freezing damage from subsurface water. These considerations lead to reinforcement of the wall to ensure that it lasts its intended lifetime.

Stone walls, therefore, need to follow specific installation guidelines given by your state’s contractor licensing board for installing footings, deadmen, joints, and more. Reinforcement is the most significant feature to target with a stone wall that could potentially hold thousands of pounds, so it’s necessary for the design and installation of your wall to meet state and local building standards for proper reinforcement.

Do I Need a Licensed Contractor for the Job?

The short answer is yes; a licensed contractor is a must for your stone wall installation. But it’s necessary to understand why you need a licensed contractor, mainly because it can be tempting to go with an unlicensed company to save money.

A licensed landscape contractor follows the guidelines set by its state governing agency for contractors. In most cases, the state outlines:

  • The required paperwork and licensure a contracting business must have
  • What the contractor needs to include in a written contract between the business and client
  • Building and local ordinances the company must abide by
  • Safety practices the company must meet on all worksites
  • How the company must maintain the integrity and health of the area’s natural landscape
  • How to properly establish turf and native plants to ensure their health and the health of the land
  • What a contractor must do to avoid interference with utility work, like contacting utility companies and working with them throughout the planning process

Most states also have strict guidelines for licensed landscape contractors who install freestanding and retaining walls. The North Carolina Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board, for example, sets a section of specific standards for wall installation, including adhering to a designer’s specifications and how to stagger wall joints properly. These guidelines don’t govern unlicensed contractors, so it’s not a guarantee that they’ll install your wall to last.

Get Your Stone Wall Installed Correctly the First Time

When you hire Ambrose Landscapes to install your stone wall, you’ll get the expertise of a team of licensed landscape contractors. We have over 25 years of experience servicing the Asheville area, and we’re proud of our licensure, certifications, and memberships. Our stone wall designs are eco-friendly, need little maintenance, and work with your landscape to give your yard function and beauty. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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