Is building a wall the same as building a garden wall? A garden wall is an excellent way to secure your garden while simultaneously improving its aesthetic. But do you know that bricklaying is considered a relatively easy construction skill? That explains why so many people attempt DIY-ing it.
Bricklaying, although doable, is not to be taken lightly. Of course, the safest solution to ensure the best results is to hire a professional to undertake the task, but not everyone has the budget to get professional help. Sure, it may be quicker and easier, but what fun is that? This is your chance to construct a wall, so we suggest you give it a shot.
The brickwork process is a gratifying experience as long as you learn everything, end to end. From finding the right bricks and mixing your own mortar to bedding the bricks and finishing up the joints, here is a comprehensive guide on a brick wall and how to build it by yourself.
In this guide, we’ll explain the materials you need and the steps you’ve to follow to build such a wall. If you are a DIYer, by following these steps, you’ll not only successfully build a garden wall but also save money by doing it yourself.
What you will need to build up a wall
To build a DIY brick garden wall, you will need the following items:
- Brick trowel
- Old board
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Brick/string line
- Club hammer
- Stiff brush
Estimate the number of bricks you require before you begin your project or building line. The standard brick measurements are 215mm x 102.5mm x 65mm. While calculating, take the 10mm mortar bed made with a mortar mix into account as well. You can order these materials and tools online or purchase them at your nearest landscaping store.
How to Build a Garden Wall: Steps
Like any other landscaping project, building a garden wall is only successful when you’re aware of the right steps. The project may seem daunting, but your garden building project will be a breeze if you follow them thoroughly.
Building a garden walling involves 11 simple steps that we’ve explained below. Make sure to follow this detailed guide without omitting any of the steps.
1. Mark the wall outline
Use your line level e to mark the wall‘s outline at a brick height between two adjacent bricks. Start your walls at the corners by laying out the bricks at both ends of the wall’s pillars.
2. Mix the mortar
Mix your mortar by combining four parts sand and 1 part cement on a surface using a shovel until you achieve a consistent colour. Add water to the dry sand and cement mixture. Continue to incorporate water into the concoction until you attain a smooth mixture that is slightly wet but not too loose nor too runny.
3. Lay the mortar
Place the mortar of the footing at the wall corner, or at the end of the line mark for the outer wall skin. Drag the shovel in a manner so the point faces you. The action creates a furrow in the centre. Lay your first brick and level its length and width using a spirit level.
Lay a mortar bed approximately 1 to 2 cm thick along the apron string. Lay the bricks on top and lightly tap to embed them into the mortar. Apply mortar on one end of the next brick and adjoin it to the previously placed brick. Repeat the process with the help of a line-level which works as a measuring guide.
4. Create the brick pillars
Place a brick on its side at the end of the wall, where the pillars start. Each consecutive course of the pillar bricks must be laid in the opposite direction.
5. Cut bricks according to size
There are occasions, where you may be required to lay a half brick. Cut your bricks according to the required size using an angle grinder or a hammer and chisel. Locate the chisel at the split point and strike the opposite end with a hammer to split the brick.
6. Build the pillars one course ahead
Make sure to build your pillars at least a course higher than the rest of the wall. Move the line level up as you build your wall and bed it into the pillar’s mortar. Each brick end should be over the centre of the one beneath it to create a stretcher bond.
7. Make 10 mm thick mortar joints
Make sure that your horizontal and vertical joints are 10 mm thick. If the bricks in use are prone to moisture absorption, it is prudent to make slightly thicker joints or add more by scraping on mortar from the sides.
8. Add a coping stone
A copestone must be added at the top of the wall’s pillar as a finishing touch. If you wish to go the more affordable route, you can use bricks by bedding them into the mortar on their sides.
9. Add a decorative brick soldier course
A soldier course is a decorative addition that makes the wall more attractive. Position the bricks vertically lengthways and lay them out along their entire length. To ensure a uniform finish, use a higher string line.
10. Finish the mortar beds
Finish the beds using the rounded edge of a brick jointer and scraping mortar into the joints. It is best to start with the horizontal lines and then proceed to fill the vertical joints. It is much easier to remove the excess mortar.
11. Clean up by brushing down the bricks
Add the finishing touches to your wall by brushing over it gently and getting rid of any mortar that may have fallen on to the floor. Make sure to do so before the mortar dries up. Use water to wash the cement off the floor but make sure it does not come into contact with the newly constructed wall.
Tips to get through the process
Here’s a list of tips to guide you through the wall building process.
1. Dig the foundation of your garden’s wall
It is a good idea to dig a trench where the wall is to lie. The trench should be approximately 200mm deep and 300mm wide. Use string and wooden pegs to mark the trench’s measurements and check the levels. To ensure that the tops of the pegs are levelled, use a spirit level.
2. Prepare the foundations of the wall
Prepare the foundations by depositing a 100mm layer of compacted hardcore in the trench and fill the rest with concrete, a mix of 1 part cement to 6 parts ballast.
3. Use different brick types
Use engineering bricks for the first course and the second course situated below the ground level. This forms a retaining wall that helps support the soil. Above the ground, use frost-resistant F category bricks.
4. Construct one course at a time
Stretch a piece of line level from one end of the foundation to the other. Spread mortar over the foundation evenly using a brick trowel. Proceed to spread the mortar over the blocks of each course as well. The mortar should ideally ooze out from between the brick joints, and any surplus must be removed using a small shovel. Fill the vertical joints by applying a little bit of mortar to one end of the block before placing it adjacent to the previous block. Check the level in all directions, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, with each course of bricks. Make sure to remove any excess mortar, so it does not stain the block’s face.
5. Mix your mortar on a board
A spotting board, i.e., a board supported by bricks, to mix your mortar. Wet the board to prevent the mortar from sticking to it.
6. Lay the blocks in a stretcher bond
The wall blocks must be positioned in a stretcher bond using half bricks at the end of each course. Cut the concrete blocks using a hammer and chisel or an angle grinder.
7. Finish off with a matching coping stone
Smooth and finish the mortar joints using a pointer shovel and adding a copestone.
With the steps explained above, you can see that constructing a structure like that requires a bit of planning, but the basics of building it remain the same. For example, it must have a solid foundation, the mortar and concrete mixture must be robust, and the joints must be filled appropriately to prevent water seepage.
Retaining walls primarily serve the purpose of preventing soil erosion, but they can also be used as part of your landscaping project and to block off specific spaces like your outdoor living space. Garden walls can even add aesthetic appeal to your overall landscape, making your home look more welcoming and beautiful.
Building a wall in your garden can be challenging if you’ve no experience in this area. But now you can create that type of wall by yourself and save money that you may otherwise spend on professionals. Make sure to follow each step to build yours successfully.