Stone Fence Technology
Written by GJ Stott
Stone fence terminology and design vary from one area to another. Stone fences were originally made without mortar, often being used as field boundaries. Mortar-less (dry-stone) stone fence structures are also commonly known as dykes in Scotland and England. In the United States it is common to see stone fence in New England, and stone fences are a notable characteristic of the parts of central Kentucky, where they are usually referred to as “rock fences“. Today stone fencing is still very popular, but is almost always built with a cement mortar, similar to brick wall construction.
In Europe, dry-stone fences are characteristic of Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales and are quite common. Stone fence is also found in a few regions of Italy. Stone fences were common because these areas generally have lots of rocks and materials available for building stone fence and the conditions are too harsh to grow any type of plant tall enough to keep one’s livestock in and the neighbors out. Several thousands of miles of these European stone walls still exist today, most of them several hundred years old.
Another interesting use of mortar-less stone fence construction was by indigenous peoples in both Africa and South America, where stone walls were used to construct buildings and create stone retaining walls that made otherwise steep and useless hills into flat, workable land. These methods were in existence in Africa and South America as early as 1300 AD.
As with many things, stone fence building methods have come a long way. The key difference between ancient and present stone fences is the use of cement mortar. The use of mortar makes stone fences much more stable and sturdy, and increases the height to which stone fences can be built.
Because of the popularity of stone wall, companies started to produce stone from concrete known as “cast stone”. This has resulted in a less expensive method of employing the look of stone as veneers on buildings, walls, and fencing. Most cast stone are produced in “pan” or “tray” forms where the textures are in the bottom part of the form and the top or back side of the product is left unfinished.
A newer method of constructing stone fence is the use of cement forms used to precast concrete walls. The StoneTree® precast walls are the most advanced precast stone fences available today. StoneTree® walls are unique in that they are the only vertically cast concrete stone fences that combine the stone wall column forms and panel form as one integral wall section. The StoneTree® concrete stone wall is given a surprisingly natural stone fence look by using distinctive concrete paneliners that create highly defined and textured stone surfaces. This method is not only stronger than a traditional stone wall; it is also faster, easier and less expensive to build and eliminates the need for concrete form rentals. The AFTEC fence system can also be used to create unique rock retaining walls with the same texture.