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Posted by WiseAcre on Jul 25th, 2010

Sandstone Slab – Steps and Wall

Jul 25

I wasn’t looking for work. I was just talking ‘garden’ with someone my wife knows when the subject of the driveway and a retaining wall came up. The home owners were planning on having a block retaining wall built before paving the driveway. I cringed at the mention of block and then had to go open my mouth about how much nicer real stone would be.

BW – Before WiseAcre
stone wall job - before

before photo of wall job   Last year some drainage work was done along the side of the garage. It was plain to see the retaining wall the excavator built was only temporary. It did hold the soil back but you can see it had a bad leak at the bottom.

Make a note – retaining walls need to extend below the grade.

Day 1
The morning was spent digging out along the garage and removing the landscape timbers. I got lucky and found a deep base of sand so there was no need to haul in stone dust for the base. Instead it was off to the quarry to get the first loads of stone. Unfortunately the first day had to be called short on account of a wicked thunderstorm. No way was I going to wave my steel bar around with lightning strikes nearby. At least we got the heavy stuff off my helpers truck before having to flee.
  stone wall job - day one

Day 2
My truck remained loaded over night. That’s nearly a ton of stone on a 1/2 ton pick up. Say what you will about Ford but their little Rangers can handle a load.

stone slabs on truck

Once my truck was unloaded we headed out for two more loads. By the end of the day the job was showing some progress.

stone wall job - day 2

Day 3
My old truck, now belonging to my helper was taking some abuse and I could feel the hesitation on his part to continue hauling rock. I couldn’t blame him, I may be an idiot but he isn’t. I worked alone, got a load and barely managed to get the next slabs unloaded before calling it quits. It really is too hot for this kind of work in my condition.

stone job - day 3

Day 4
Back I went to set the stone slab steps. It took about 3 hours in the heat.

sandstone slab steps

What’s the next step? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I’m debating whether to use some field stone to build up the right side of the steps. I’ll go rock hunting tomorrow to see it i can find something I like that may work both aesthetically and functionally. The only problem with large boulders is they’re so much harder to move. They have a tendency to roll off the ramps when loading and unloading. On the plus side – they’re free (on my land) and I don’t have to drive 100 miles (round trip) to get them.

7 Responses

  1. Marguerite Says:

    No idea how you will continue this but I love what you’ve started. I’ve been considering some sort of terracing and pathway/steps around our place and this gives me some great ideas.

  2. Becky Says:

    Funny how the stone is always more interesting when you have to use a Ranger to get it. Thats a gorgeous set of steps . Ed has gotten so the smaller,closer at hand ,stones look best to him. Must be you are in better condition !

  3. Laurie Brown Says:

    Those are really magnificent steps! The whole thing is so massive and grounded.

  4. miss m Says:

    Love it !
    Will you come work for me ? 😀

  5. Jackie Says:

    Really like the “process” photos. Good illustration of what it really takes. Congratulations!

  6. Rachelle O Says:

    what is the name of the rock you used, and where can I buy some. Was this difficult to do alone or for first timers?

  7. WiseAcre Says:

    Rachelle O

    It is sandstone. I bought it from someone that dug it up on his own property between Hammond and Redwood, NY. I’ve retired and haven’t seen him in a couple of years now but imagine he’s still digging it up. It’s not too difficult to cut by hand with a hammer and chisel but it does take a bit of experience.