Dry stack stone retaining walls have been used for centuries. Very common in the UK, US, and Europe, these retaining walls are easy to build and enable natural drainage while preventing soil erosion. Natural stone cladding is one of the best materials for building stack stone retaining or sitting walls. In this article, we look at retaining or sitting walls and what they’re used for.

Why build a retaining or sitting wall?

Retaining walls

Retaining walls are often built on hillsides in the countryside or used as a boundary for garden features. As an anti-erosion feature, they’re usually built to hold up soil on a sloping surface near a house or a road. In a garden, they can be used to create levels, to secure sloping surfaces, or to create level areas for outdoor spaces such as a barbecue area.

Sitting walls

Sitting walls tend to be shorter and thicker walls that are used as a boundary and barrier, as well as a casual sitting surface. Like the retaining wall, it’s usually dry stacked, so it’s built without an adhesive or mortar. Instead, both types of wall make use of blocks of stone that are interlocked, like bluestone pavers or other types of pavers.

However, sitting walls are usually topped off with cap stones for extra strength and utility. Both types of walls facilitate drainage as they are dry stacked.

Key advantages

These are some of the key advantages of dry stacked sitting and retaining walls:

  • Natural and rustic look that blends in well with any garden features and outdoor spaces.
  • Provide a natural barrier against soil erosion.
  • As they’re dry stacked, they tend to be relatively easy to build, though they must be designed with special consideration for the same reason.
  • When built with stone blocks, retaining and sitting walls can outlast wooden fences or walls created from other building materials.
  • Retaining and sitting walls can be designed to feature in the garden, or they can be designed to completely blend into the rest of the landscape.

Choosing the right stone

Natural stone comes in all shapes and colours, so be sure to select a colour that complements your house or the theme or colours in your garden or outdoor space.

  • SandstoneHighly durable, sandstone can be water and salt resistant, which is why it is often used around pool areas. For the same reason, it can be a great material for your retaining or sitting wall as it resists water.
  • Bluestone. The dark, rich colours of bluestone can bring a touch of elegance to your retaining or sitting walls.
  • QuartziteOne of the most durable and dense stone materials, quartzite is resistant to water staining and absorption, making it a wonderful natural stone for building garden walls of any size.
  • LimestoneHoned limestone is often used in outdoor spaces such as stairs and verandas. Choose limestone for its light and attractive shades.
  • TravertineAnother attractive stone, travertine is both rustic and elegant, and is so durable that it’s used for indoor and outdoor paving — even around water areas such as pools