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2.20 Retaining Wall Workshop

2.20 Retaining Wall Workshop Overview:

Apply the principles and methods for building a structurally sound dry stone wall to building a retaining wall. Learn the fundamentals of retaining walls; did you know they are also double-faced? Sort and stage stone for the build, assist in batter frame setup, and build a retaining wall.

Workshop Objective:

To extend the basic principles of dry stone walling to retaining wall construction.

Learning Outcomes:

  • You can describe how the five basic rules of dry stone walling apply to retaining walls.
  • You can state how your skill using batter frames and stringlines has improved.
  • You can describe how to manage materials and workspace safely and efficiently.
  • You can compare basic methods for dealing with drainage and backfilling.

Come learn how to apply the knowledge you gleaned from an introductory workshop to building a retaining wall. Here you focus on structure to maximize strength for a retaining wall that will last for generations. While all the principles of a freestanding wall apply, you face additional considerations when building retaining walls.

As in an introductory workshop, you start by evaluating the structure of an existing retaining wall before stripping out and sorting the stone. With your classmates, you will deconstruct and rebuild an existing wall built to Dry Stone Walling Association certification test specifications. Taking apart a wall allows you to understand its structure and the methods used to build it.

As you dismantle the wall, together you examine and discuss the characteristics of the retained earth/gravel bank and the issues that various soil types may present. Begin the rebuild with a focus on establishing a solid foundation. Here is where you address questions related to excavation and drainage. Next, set batter frames and stringlines and continue to practice and improve your skill at building level courses and an even wall face. Extend your understanding of how throughstones promote a durable structure. Backfill the wall carefully and thoroughly into the bank.

Whether you are a homeowner or a professional, by day’s end you can expect to have learned enough to make wise decisions on your own projects. You can apply what you learned directly to all types of dry stone retaining walls, from seat walls, to excavator set boulder walls.

The variety of stone you work with depends on the geology of the training site where you have come to learn. In the Northeast and Upper Midwest, you are likely to encounter round fieldstone, granite, gneiss, and bluestone. In Pennsylvania and Tennessee, you are likely to be working with sandstone. At every Stone Trust training site, you will engage in hands-on experience with the basic rules of structural dry stone walling to apply directly to all types of dry stone projects.

Come learn from certified waller-teachers, most of whom earn their livelihoods as dry stone walling professionals. All Stone Trust instructors have achieved DSWA Level 2 Waller Certification, globally recognized as the professional standard. As Stone Trust-DSWA-certified instructors, all belong to a learning community that seeks to ensure that every one of you learns what you came for and that you enjoy the process. With a student : instructor ratio of 8 : 1, you can count on plenty of direct interaction with your teachers.

Sample Workshop Agenda:

Some Stone Trust training sites now offer a two-day version of the retaining wall workshop. Two days give you more hands-on time to apply the basic principles. Spend more time working with batter frames and stringlines. Sleep on what you learn and come back to practice with guidance. Enjoy more time interacting with classmates and waller-teachers, and more time getting answers to your questions.

9:00 – 9:30
Introductions and Overview: How the wall is built and why it is built that way.
9:30 – 10:00
Stripping Out, Stone Sorting, Safety and Stone Sorting
10:00 – 10:30
Excavation, Drainage, Foundations, Batter Frames and Stringlines
10:30 – 12:30
First Lift: Principles of walling and backfilling discussed, demonstrated, and practiced as you build the first few courses
12:30 – 1:00
Lunch and Conversation
1:00 – 1:30
1:30 – 1:45
Tool Talk and/or Tour of Walls
1:45 – 3:45
Second Lift (techniques for handling smaller stones)
3:45 – 4:30
Cover Bands and/or Copes
4:30 – 5:00
Clean-up, Review, Workshop Evaluation
Thanks for Coming! (Certificate of Completion, T-shirts, and walling information)

Please note, instructors use their discretion to organize the day for an optimal learning experience.

Critical Information:

  • The workshop will run 9:00am-5:00pm with 1/2 hour lunch break.
  • Participants should wear boots and work clothes (have plenty of layers for cool weather)
  • What to bring:  gloves, rain gear, safety glasses, water, and lunch.  (There is no where close enough to buy lunch with in the lunch break)
  • All tools needed are provided.
  • Participants are welcome to bring their stone working tools if they wish.

Detailed info will be emailed to you once you register including what to bring and directions.

Licensed Landscape Architects can receive 7.5 LA CES credits for participating in this workshop.

Upcoming 2.20 Retaining Wall Workshops:

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All Upcoming Fundamentals (2.00) Level Courses

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