Stone walls can serve a purely decorative function, or they may also have utilitarian uses, such as when it comes to retaining walls or barrier walls. Regardless, they are an important part of your landscaping and help add to the curb appeal of your home. Maintaining them properly is a must if you want the stone to remain attractive. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to do, as the following tips will show.
Tip #1: Avoid mechanical damage
Mechanical damage is most often caused by the use of lawn care equipment along the base of the wall. Repeatedly hitting the wall with a lawnmower, an edger, or a trimmer will eventually chip and weaken even the strongest of stones. This may not be noticeable is the wall is made of rough-cut stone, but honed stone will show the damage readily. Worse, roughing up honed stone can make it more porous and prone to water damage. Install a plant-free buffer against the wall so you don't have to use equipment right next to it. Pebbles or even an inlaid paver border will work well. If you have other items near the wall, such as statues or possibly lawn furniture, leave some space between them and the wall. This will cut down on damage to the stone from these items colliding with the stone when the objects are moved.
Tip #2: Keep them clean
Dirt isn't necessarily damaging to a stone wall, but it is unattractive. Thick dirt or moss growth can also cause other seedlings to root in the stone. Over time, these plants can produce roots that will work into the stones and cause damage. You can easily keep a stone wall clean using one of two methods. The simplest is periodic pressure washing at low to medium pressure. This works best for dry-fit stones, since damage can occur to mortar if you aren't careful. The other method requires more physical labor, but all you need is a stiff brush, hot water, and a bit of scrubbing. If moss or algae is an issue, scrubbing with a weak bleach solution can kill off the offending plants.
Tip #3: Inspect and repair regularly
Small bits of damage can become big problems if ignored. Check the wall annually in spring for damage. Major chips in the stone, cracks, and crumbling mortar are the biggest issues. You can have cracks and chips fixed with a concrete patch. Mixing in the dust from a similar stone will allow you to match the color so the patch is almost invisible. Mortar can be scraped out and replaced. If damage tends to occur along the same cracks or joints, use a mortar that contains a plastic polymer. These will expand and contract with temperature fluctuations instead of cracking.
Contact a stone products company for more help.