Stone, Brick, or Cinder Block
Upside: For stone, a handsome rustic appeal. Collecting stones on site and doing the work yourself can also save money. Brick provides a more formal look. Cinder block is inexpensive and can be reinforced with steel and concrete.
Downside: Stone-wall masonry is harder than it appears. Fitting the stone is exacting work and making mortar joints look natural requires experience (nonmortared stone walls don't offer much holding power). Brick masonry also requires skill to hit the visual standard all of us are used to. Cinder block has to be faced with stucco, brick, or stone or overgrown with plantings to make it attractive.
Cost: About $10 to $12 for cinder block; for brick and stone, around $20 to $25 per square face foot (double that figure for a two-sided wall).
Follow all rules for landscape fabric, drainage, and backfill. A mortared wall needs a footing and a drainage system that will defeat frost heaving. A dry, nonmortared wall allows water to seep through, relieving pressure behind the wall naturally.

Upside: Strong. Well-designed and properly drained and backfilled, concrete walls rarely fail.
Downside: Bare concrete isn't particularly attractive. It can be veneered with masonry, or special forms can be used that embed decorative designs in the finished wall. Also, if a wall fails, patching may not be possible and removal is costly. Walls over a few feet high should be formed and poured by a pro unless you've had experience with vertical pours.
Cost: Around $16 to $20 per square face foot installed.
Follow all rules for landscape fabric, drainage, and backfill. The footing should be below frost depth or on well-drained gravel that reaches this level. Use 3/4-inch ply and 2-by-4 bracing to form the wall. And install #4 rebar wired in 12-inch grids for added strength. Use mechanical vibration or strike the forms with a rubber mallet every 6 inches when concrete is wet for a smooth finished face.

Ask TOH users about Fences & Stone Walls

Contribute to This Story Below