How to Build a Rock Garden Wall


A rock garden wall is an aesthetically pleasing and low-maintenance way to subtly demarcate property lines, enclose rose gardens or create a focal point in a garden. The natural texture and appearance of rock and stone walls blend with the surrounding landscape. Rock walls are stable and stay in place because of their weight. Simply stack walls up to three courses (rows) over each other or use mortar for a secure fit if you want a permanent fixture in your garden.

Step 1

Clear the area from all vegetation, plant debris and stones. Insert stakes into the ground to demarcate the corners of the wall and run garden string through each stake.

Step 2

Dig a trench in the soil along the garden string. Make sure it is 8 to 10 inches deep and an inch wider than the largest rocks you will use for the first course or row. The trench serves as the foundation of the wall and holds the rocks in place.

Step 3

Add 2 to 4 inches of crushed gravel or limestone to the trench and level the top so it is even.

Step 4

Place the first course of rocks into the trench, directly above the gravel. Press each rock down before placing another one flush against it. Use a carpenter's level to check that the top of the first course is even. Add small rocks to fill gaps.

Step 5

Lay the second course directly above the first one. Stagger the butt-joints--the point where ends of two rocks meet--in succeeding courses to ensure that the joints are not directly above the joints of the rocks below; this will result in a more aesthetically pleasing wall. Lay the second course along the entire length of the wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Skates
  • Garden string
  • Shovel
  • Crushed gravel
  • Rocks
  • Carpenter's level


  • University of Minnesota: Natural Stone Retaining Walls
  • La Pilitas Nursery: Rock Wall
  • Penn State University: Natural Stone Headwalls
Keywords: rock wall, rock garden wall, building garden walls

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.