Dry laid stone walls are a long standing New England tradition. Built without mortar, a dry laid wall is designed handle the frost related movement that comes with cold north country winters. A proper base, sufficient thickness, and proper bonds between stones ensure that your investment will stand the test of time. Dry laid walls can generally be broken down into two styles, field stone and quarried stone. Both types of stone can be used to build strong and reliable retaining, or free standing walls. Quimby Mountain Stone is my primary source of quarried stone, due to the quarries proximity to most of my jobs, and it's superb qualities for wall work. There are a number of other quarries in the area that I can draw from, and palletized stone is another available option if the desired design style requires it. Field stone can be sourced, with some difficulty, or harvested from the home owners property. I am fortunate to have a rare, but reliable source for field stone. Naturally, local geology dictates how useable the local stone is, glacial till makes for the best walls.
Committed to the Craft.
A dry laid wall will only last if it is properly designed and built. The fluid nature of soil is too often easily dismissed and underestimated. The force exerted on a retaining wall is enormous, and grows exponentially with the height of the wall. It is very important that the structure is thick enough to withstand the lateral thrust exerted on the wall, a reliable rule of thumb is to build the wall as thick at the base as the wall is tall. I backfill my retaining walls with 3" crushed stone for two reasons, improved drainage reduces hydraulic pressure, and the larger aggregate exerts less thrust. Another typical point of failure is the base, if the soil supporting the wall is not strong enough, the base stones will settle allowing the top of the wall to bow out. Most installations result in excavating down to a structural layer, then coming back to grade with a structural stone, either 3/4" crushed ledge of 3/4" crusher run depending on the application. Unless the surrounding soils are especially well draining, a drainage mechanism is installed either below or behind the wall to reduce hydraulic pressure, and to prevent the supporting soils from becoming saturated.
My walls are priced on a square foot basis, I charge additionally for site preparation and clean up. My prices vary depending on application, certain installations are tedious and labor intensive resulting in a higher cost per square foot.