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Stone wall collapse (frost) -- New England -- smarter solutions?  RSS feed

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 567
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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I was helping rebuild a stone wall today, and we speculated that if the paddock above it had been swaled (it's on the list, hasn't gotten to it yet) that capturing that water higher uphill would prevent so much change in the height of the frost when the first warm day of spring comes. I'm not quite sure how frost expands while it is melting (or does it shrink suddenly and that causes collapse?) but would love some insight from you geniuses.

I am aware that most stone walls in New England have sat unmaintained for generations without collapsing, or without much collapse.

The purpose of the stone wall is to be a wall of the paddock, I guess, and because he has so many damn stones (did I mention this is New England?), and becuase he knows how to build stone wallss, a really cool skill I'm glad i now can talk about knowing at parties. it's kinda like Tetris but in 3d and with exercise.

Not so fun I'd want to do it again next year. I'd rather put my muscle into digging a swale or six.

(Which reminds me, does anyone know of a wild animal that conservationists won't be bothered by that has a rabid tendency to dig trenches in fields and swale on contour? cause that would help a lot of people next to conservation land get a lot done. I call it the Land Beaver. It has a sijmilar homing instinct to migratory birds. A Horizontal-Mole?)

I didn't see a secction that stone building could go under so i put it in green building--please move if there's a more appropriate place for this, moderators. Thanks!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6786
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Frost in soil can exert many tons of pressure. Any stone wall in your climate must have a foundation that goes below the frost line. The most expedient and simplest foundation is the rubble trench. Huge castles in northern Europe sit on rubble trenches. Check with local building department regarding frost depth in your area.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I am aware that most stone walls in New England have sat unmaintained for generations without collapsing, or without much collapse.


Hello Joshua, et al,

"Frost Heave" is often a "misnomer" in many locations and not...necessarily...all that is going on. That is why the many stone walls around the world...not just New England do not move. Many of these stone walls sit on...or near...bedrock, and/or a "mineral soil," not a "clay soil." The clay soil is part of the revelation...clays are an expansive soil when they get wet...even without ice to exaggerate this expansion. Get a "bentonite" clay in a soil and you have way more to worry about than frost as this is an extremely expansive form of clay...yet has many positive uses as well.

So the real issue is clay and/or water...if neither are present you have little to worry about. So the goal of any design is finding the clays, and removing the standing water which can freeze and expand.

No water...No heave...No clay...no heave....

Could not recommend the gravel trench more!! Best foundation system yet devised and still used today on just about every continent.

Regards,

j
 
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