There are countless examples of stone piers built over 100 years ago still proudly standing and looking more elegant than ever. Today some are still being built with the same craftsmanship. However, this is just another of the skilled trades that seem more and more difficult to find today.
Stone Pier Construction
Construction techniques do vary. The majority of stone piers are built on concrete footings. This helps ensure the stonework does not shift over time.
Another basic, but equally important construction feature is to build “plumb and square” corners.
This stone pier (pictured to the left) was being built on a solid poured concrete footing. That’s good. But after the stonework was partially up I realized it was out of square and the corners were not perfectly plumb. I contacted the company owner who had the crew redo the pier correctly.
This pier is built using full sized pieces of stone. Cement is used to set and shim the pieces as they’re stacked. The idea is that no concrete show from the outside. This gives the same look as a “dry-stacked” stone wall. The center or “core” of the pier is filled solid with concrete as it’s constructed.
There is another way this stone pier could have been built. Sometimes we use cinder blocks set on the concrete footing to form the pier shell or core. A stone veneer that averages 3″ thick is then applied to the cinder block.
Multiple Uses and Applications
Stone piers can be adapted in many ways in the landscape.
- As driveway entrance stanchions – with or without gates.
- Walkway entrances – either with or without gates.
- At patio entrances.
- Used at intervals along a wall.
- Used as pier/posts for decorative fence (usually metal fence).
- Used as an “anchor element” or accent in the landscape.
When I designed the front landscape for the home in the first picture above, I wanted something more than the lamp post to mark the entrance to the front walk. A single stone pier sized properly to the surroundings would work well. The shallow planter placed on top complements the natural stone beautifully and allows seasonal changes throughout the year.