Maui Association of Landscape Professionals

MALP Blog Posts

Rock Walls In The Landscape
From the Fall 2009 MALP Newsletter
by Donna Mann
Right Plant Right Place Landscaping
Rock walls add a natural element to landscapes and enhance any garden style.
I was working on a landscape design project recently that had a variety of rock hardscape features. Each day it was fascinating to watch the transformation made with the addition of blue rock retaining walls, moss rock planters and bed borders, blue rock veneer on the hollow tile wall and moss rock pillars for a walk-thru arbor. The walls all looked very natural with no cement showing. Bill Maskell did the rock work on this project.
Bill Maskell was born on Oahu and has done Maui rock work for 26 years. He and his crew of 5, watched over by his dogs Nana Bell and Kui, have built everything including shower stalls, stair cases, chimneys, wall veneers, as well as standard walls.
I wanted to know more about the process and interviewed Bill for this article on rock walls.
Q — What kinds of rock do you use?
A — We use four kinds: Blue, Moss, Kapalua and River Rock
Q — How do you build the foundation?
A — There is a formula. The base is half the height of the wall.
Q — When you build a thick wall do you use all rock?
A — Usually there is recycled concrete in the back and the face of the wall is rock. If the backfill does not come up to the top of the wall then the decorative rock is put down to the soil line so the concrete doesn't show.
Q — When do you need to get a permit?
A — Any wall over 3 feet requires a permit and an engineering stamp.
Q — How do you finish off the rock wall?
A — There are two ways. One is a cement cap and the other is a rock cap.
Q — Are there other ways of putting the rock wall together?
A — Another technique is using cement between the rocks. You see the cement lines but it does deter bugs and weeds.
Q — Is drainage a problem?
A — Our walls usually drain themselves because they are porous.
Q — How do you have to maintain the walls?
A — Rock walls need no maintenance whereas hollow tile walls may need crack repairs and the joints or repainting.
Q — How do you price the walls?
A — Usually pricing is by the square foot but sometimes an hourly rate is used. Consider rock walls in your plans. They will make a beautiful, strong statement in any landscape.