When we design and build a stone retaining wall, our goal isn't merely to change grade or hold back an embankment; we also aim to enhance the landscape. The retaining wall shown on these pages, for instance, which we built around a new in-ground swimming pool, provides seating and helps define a roomlike space in the backyard. The wall was necessary because of the slope of the yard, but locating it between the pool and the house gave us the opportunity to create a landscape design as beautiful as it is practical.

Like the majority of the stone walls and fences we build, this one was installed "dry," which means that no mortar was used. And while it isn't exceptionally tall, stone retaining walls can be virtually any height (though a practical limit is about 8 feet); built right, they will last almost forever — or at least until the bulldozers...

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