Matching the Old and the New Masonry

Our clients’ beautiful country home needed some updating. They wanted us to create continuity between the house and the yard by covering the masonry wall attached to the side of the house. Since the wall was in perfect shape, just a little dirty, they asked us cover it with Oklahoma flagstone and replace an existing railroad tie wall to match it.

Parts of the house are accented with stone that is called Oklahoma Pinks and Tans. We have done many projects with this stone. It is lighter in color, having more pinks and whites than the more popular and frequently used Tennessee stone. Tennessee stone has more browns and greys and looks similar to stones from Georgia.

Image 1: Our clients’ home already had Oklahoma Pinks and Tans flagstone in several places, the turret, base wall and foundation. The stone contrasts nicely with the dark logs and lightens the overall look of the house.

To the right of the concrete wall, was a railroad tie timber wall and steps. Both of these were rotting and needed replacing. We decided to extend the concrete wall (by using concrete block) to the steps and then adding stone to the front with the same Pinks and Tans. 

Image 2: The beginning of the railroad tie wall can be seen to the far right in this picture. Also, planted behind the hedge is a blue-and-chrome tandem bicycle with a seat for the owners, Susan and Laura.
Image 3: Here you can see, behind the bench, the wall that will be replaced with new construction (and the tandem bicycle). The timber steps will also be replaced.

We replaced the timber steps with natural Oklahoma stone. These stone steps (Image 4) are quarried then cut from large slabs of rock into 36” or 48” x 18” steps. They come in different heights, but we use and prefer the 6-8” height. The slabs can weight over 300 pounds each and will stay in place for many more years than wood. In my opinion, they are also much more attractive.

Image 4: Because stone is a natural product, there is a lot of variation in color. The completed, matching wall along with new plantings can be seen at the bottom of the steps.

The hardest part of this project was finding the stone. Normally, we would call up our trusty Gainesville, GA supplier and the stone would be delivered. But 2022 was not a typical year. So, after calling all the stone suppliers in North Georgia, Jason found it at a supplier in Tennessee. The stone had to match perfectly, or these walls and steps would not look right with the house.

Image 5: In order to have something for the stone to adhere to, we started by adding wire mesh to the old concrete wall. The tandem bicycle reviews the work.

Instead of pouring an additional concrete wall we decided, for drainage purposes, that concrete blocks would be better. Due to the hillside behind it, the wall will experience some strong hydrostatic pressure, so we filled every other cell of the concrete block with concrete and iron rebar and then backfilled behind the wall with size 57 stone.

Image 6: Art of Stone Gardening builds walls that last forever. The new concrete block wall, which replaced the railroad ties, joins the original wall. See Images 2 and 7.  

Our work locating the correct stone, building a new wall, sculpting, and installing new steps are examples of the many different elements involved in any given project. This project illustrates our attention to detail and to fulfilling the needs of the client. Whether a bicycle is involved or not, we at Art of Stone Gardening work in tandem with our clients. Have a project in mind? Give us a call, and we can take it for a spin.

Image 7: The old wall and the new wall, both faced with Oklahoma Pinks and Tans, ties the house into the yard. The homeowners added local rocks to the side of the steps and some pretty flowers. The bench has returned and the bicycle looks on proudly.

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