Hi this is Carl the landscape guy and today
I would like to show you a special construction site. It’s about the preparation and construction
of a mortared natural stone wall. It’s not just any wall, but a wall located
within the courtyard of the beautiful castle of Biedenkopf in Hessen, where a privy house
was recently demolished. The house had been built for museum visitors
of the castle and wasn’t a part of the historic building. The original castle was built as early as
the 12th century and all the walls are built of natural stone, mostly greywacke which is
like a dark sandstone. They want to use the castle courtyard as a
venue for concerts and so on, and therefore, the nonhistorical, small, half-timbered house
must be torn down. The demolition of the bottom slab is carried
out with a Komatsu PC35 excavator and a hydraulic breaker. With the aid of a Schäffer SLT wheel loader,
the crushed concrete rubble is removed from the castle courtyard and loaded into a transport
container. In its place, a gravel base layer is laid
down so that it can be paved here later. Back here this height difference is to be
intercepted by a natural stone retaining wall. For this purpose, a half meter deep foundation
of concrete in wall width is created. The first row of natural stones is already
embedded in the foundation. It’s important that it’s built as much
as possible in the style of the existing walls, so that it integrates well into the overall
picture. That includes the correct natural stone material. Mostly regional stones were used in this case,
specifically a light greywacke. In addition, if possible, a mortar should
be used with the corresponding color. Once all materials are on site, then you still
need two experts who can construct the wall in the same style as the castle. And there they are, the natural stone specialists
Nico and Vangjeli. They first put on a mason’s cord to make it
easier to align the wall and achieve the proper inclination. Because the wall should be slightly wider
at the bottom than at the top, the cords are attached to pins so that they can be moved
up and down. Now it depends on the experience of the two
masons. Each stone is shaped and adjusted with the
hammer. The greywacke sometimes is very porous and
therefore breaks easier, which makes the process more difficult. The ready-mixed mortar is mixed on-site with
water in a mixing machine and used immediately. The lower part of the retaining wall has only
one viewing side. However, the back of the wall must also be
built with stones and mortar, so that the wall is stable later. Nico places special emphasis on the cornerstones,
which must have two viewing sides with almost 90° to each other, as well as, fit on the
underlying stones so that no double cross joints occur. It is important to build it without two cross
joints on top of each other, not only for the stability, but also for the appearance. So Nico and Vangjeli keep carving, adjusting
and hewing the stones row by row. Some natural stones strongly absorb moisture,
therefore, this mortar is particularly suitable because it can also be used as grout at the
same time. The joints are being filled and smeared. Now the wall has almost reached its final
height. The rear upper wall will be visible. Vangjeli closes the joints carefully here
too. The top row is now laid. For this purpose, the cord is pushed up to
the final height and is used to get the top layer nice and straight. Now, in addition to avoiding double cross
joints, attention must be paid to the side and top views and the correct stone thickness. Then you get a level and an even appearance
of the masonry top. The processing of the last row of stones is
therefore a little more elaborate. Here, it is particularly important that the
joints are well mortared and smeared, so that later, the least amount of water will seep
into the wall. A cover plate is omitted in this case for
aesthetic reasons. It is always amazing how the two brothers
create such a straight wall out of supposedly misshapen, natural stones. Here the last stone is still missing on the
top row of ​​the corner. Nico closes the gaps with smaller stones,
ensuring that the joints that are visible later are equal width apart and installed
at the correct height. Now the joints can be closed with fresh mortar. The natural stone used here is relatively
hard with a smooth surface. Therefore, the joints can be smeared well,
without the excess grout immediately adhering to the stone. The masonry work is now done and the cords
can be removed. The mortar now hardens for a few hours before
it goes into the final processing phase, because the wall is not ready yet. The excess grout material is now removed from
the stones in several steps. First, the rough part of the mortar is cleaned
with a wire brush. At the corner, Nico works very carefully so
that the joint is not damaged. The cleaning of the joints really brings out
the stones and makes the wall look even more natural. In the second step, the fine portion of the
mortar is swept with a hand brush and at the same time provides the joint with the desired
finer surface. The deeper the gap is swept, the more natural
the wall will look later. In this case, it’s about optically adapting
the joint to the surrounding walls. You can clearly see how the stones of the
new wall are now really coming into their own. The joints will become brighter after some
time and adapt even better to the existing walls. Now only the surface has to be paved and then
the courtyard can be fully used in castle Biedenkopf. The result of the new wall is impressive and
blends seamlessly into the castle ambience. The video description contains links to the
materials and tools used. This video was created with the kind support
of Balzer Landscaping Construction Company. Thanks for watching, please like and subscribe. Thank you very much for your support, Until
next time, I’m Carl the landscape guy.

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Reader Comments

  1. John Zacharias

    Looks like you could have tightened up the rocks a little, a small amount of lime would have lightened up the mortar. You’d also have to work in tighter time constraints! Then they would match the rest of the wall.

  2. Conor Ryan Vids

    Poor work. Even look at the thumbnail. To the right of his hand the joints don't overlap enough and theres a big patch of mortar and a tiny stone going at 45 degrees when all should be linear.

  3. Donny Tyranosaurus-Rex

    Cement mortar instead of lime will be one of the biggest issues. Lime is permeable, so it allows moisture to come and go the same way the natural stones will. Using cement mortar is going to trap moisture around the stone and cause serious structural issues sooner rather than later, allowing the moisture to cause decay in the stone.

    Unfortunately it seems no-one bothered to do their research before the project went ahead.

  4. vallee1985

    I m a Stone Mason myself (18 years). The face of the Wall looks "ok"…. but the top looks horrible! In a Historical peace like this, take your time and try to at least match the surrounding Stones. Specially the center stones on the top just dont match the overall picture of the wall. So take your time and do it right!
    A little tip: NEVER smooth out joints with your bare fingers. You will rub off your skin and it will hurt really bad after. Just wear gloves… Trust me, i speak from experience.

  5. Front Page Digital

    Wonderful job done by the stonemasons! Alot of criticism regarding their work in the comment section by know it all nobodys lol Thanks for the awesome content!

  6. tady64

    I'm Mason for over 30 years building all kind of stone material, all I can say to all these experts putting all these comments BLA, BLA BLA!!! There is no two same man doing the same structure looks the same we all see the different way to do the same thing. As using the type of mortar what they using it is not up to them its called up to specification what the architect or someone wants to use. The wall looks great in my opinion. Great craftsman skills and it is gone be there for a very long time. past my and your time body.LOL.LOL

  7. Mr Welsh Gaming

    I was lucky enough to gain the experience and skills to work on a Class 1 heritage castle at Conwy , North Wales, Stone work has facinated me ever since, and I really want to start my own company, but lack the experience and knowlage, Ive always been a gamer who was driven by wanting to become rich (in the games) but never never been as ambitios in real life. In games, you ask and learn and once you do something once, You know how to do it 🙂 Just IRL everyone wants people with 100 years experience 🙁

  8. Eric Stevens

    One thing with this profession is being a master in puzzles in regard to positive and negative space perception. Seeing and scanning forms (rocks) in 3D and rotating and fitting them in your mind before attempting to fit just anything into the real physical space. I rarely chip stones as I consider it altering the what my mind originally saw the rock as. Possibly this crew had a time constraint but should have gone through the pile for the largest flattest best rocks first that will be used at the top to cap the wall off. Their best aesthetic rocks probably are inside the wall as load bearing which suffice but had a better mission on top. About the best thing they did were the corners, worst is the top as people probably will sit on this wall during performances. It could be snaggy. Another thing is this is an Italian crew and it may be stylistic that works in Italy, not central Germany.

  9. Joe Nowhere.

    Retaining wall that butts up to an existing wall,zero interconnectivity?
    Im a truck driver and can see it pulling away and shifting.

  10. Stephan Jenkins

    I’m not a stone mason but a bricklayer. I’ve done some repair work with a mason and it didn’t take long after the angry mason told me off about building tombstones in the wall. And the capping wasn’t the nicest either. Joints are huge.

  11. Matthew102000

    id like to do something like this for a climbing boulder for my backyard. just cement a bunch of smaller rocks together to form a bigger boulder with a bunch of climbing routs and possibilities. could make it hollow on the inside with some rebar and wood to save on materials and weight.

  12. OohzyJohnDow

    Damn.. i cant listen to the guy that is narrating the video! What a bizarre intonations this guy uses! I will try again with no sound right after my toes UNCURL themselves!

  13. Simo Hayha nimportequoi

    Il aurait fallu enchevêtrer les pierres du nouveau mur dans l'ancien pour garder la continuité de la maçonnerie !
    Et surtout utiliser de la chaux et pas du ciment…

  14. cazzo53

    Stones are so perfectly squared it even seems unfair to call it [Detail Advisory] it should be called Kinder Play Ground.. This stones are tremendously Easy and Small in Size Compared to the stones i have to work with..

  15. Simple Living - Bulgaria

    Wow! these guys are good. Excellent work. Learned some valuable skills watching this. Lots of practice needed thouigh to even begin to match their skill 🙂 thanks for sharing

  16. toOnybrain

    Thank you for this thorough video. I build dry stone walls but am faced with having to build with mortar. I had so many questions, since wet is a whole different animal. Thanks again. Best video I’ve found thus far because you’re matching the historic.

  17. 666 Gc8

    I wouldn’t take to much advice from this video.
    I worked as a dry stane dyker for many years and also built random rubble wall as they are called when built with mortar where I’m from.
    First thing I noticed was they where not using a lime mortar mix which is best if working with sandstone,
    as it is more porous than the stone and lets water run free of the stone.
    This helps to stop trapped water from freezing in the winter, which expands causing the stone to crumble.
    Secondly if your are going to use a cement based mortar mix, don’t have it as wet as that.
    You want it just at bitting point, when you squeeze it in your hand it sticks together but isnt to wet. If its to wet its more likely to smear the stone and looks messy. I also seen a few cut faces, this is also a no no, never put the cut side of the stone facing out.

  18. G S

    All opinion aside, great work. The castle surely was originally built over several years. There are obvious start/stops from previous artisans, And the boys here, did a fine job while leaving there own personality. If cost is no object, one can pick apart ANYONE'S work. But in reality, if one shows proper adherence to quality work, one then can look at this video as a look a fine craftsman doing there art.
    Fine job.

  19. GeenAnder

    touching cement based mortar with your bare hands will cause the acids to eat your skin you will find out a day later but maybe these guys have acid proof skin

  20. savagex466

    Do any of you guys ever get pieces of rock hitting your eyes ? I think id want safty glasses as iv had this happen to me before am I doing something wrong ? thanks for sharing

  21. DrBernon

    They used too much mortar. I'm 100% sure the original walls had a bit of mortar at the exterior to protect the wall. But the actual structural material was just plain mud. And it shows, the mud encourages you to use more small stones between the big ones and to put the stones closer together, since mud is softer.
    This looks like a very nice, but very modern wall.

  22. lady boywonder

    Dear professionals!I
    I would really appreciate your expert advice here I am a 100% novice who would like to build a support wall/ Palisade in my garden
    I have collected Local Fieldstones
    – Probably Sandstone

    The palisade (support wall) about 1 to 2 feet tall in different areas (average 30 to 40 cm) I cut the side of the hill and i’ve collected all the stones
    I am not sure if I should not do this job myself as a novice – as far as aesthetics I just want it to look very old, and it doesn’t have to be perfect
    I have also seen and heard of people using clay and sand as mortar(is that a good idea?) your help would be greatly appreciated please and thank you
    Also how far below the ground should I go?

  23. Alex Jones

    How do they have so many stones flat on top and bottom? are thye found naturally that way? (If so what type of rock to look for?) or are they all shaped? (And if so how are they shaped?)

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