Building a garden wall can be a great way to complete your garden.
At Minster Paving we try everything to help bring our customers’ gardens to life. From a decorative garden feature to a handy brick barbecue, a low wall is an attractive and practical addition to any garden. The real beauty of garden walls, however, lies in how relatively simple they are to build.
By following our five simple steps, you too could be building your own garden wall.
Planning and preparation
Start by planning the type of wall you’d like to build.
When building a garden wall, first decide on its width and height. Choices include a half-brick wall (one brick thick), a one-brick wall (two parallel half bricks) or a one-and-a-half brick wall (bricks are laid at parallel 90-degree angles). Single brick walls should be no more than 45cm in height, and walls taller than one metre should not be built without first gaining expert advice.
Second, choose your bricks – medium density facing bricks are a good general choice.
Finally, clear the site where the wall is to be built and make sure you have all the equipment you need.
Your first and most important task is to lay the wall’s foundation. This needs to be horizontal and square, so ensure your trench walls are vertical and level.
Begin by using two lines and pegs to mark out your site, before starting to dig the trench. This should be the same length as your wall and include a depth of at least 35cm (for walls no more than 1 metre high).
Tap two pegs into the ground to the level of the concrete, and press down firmly a 5cm layer of compacted hardcore.
Pour in your concrete making it at least 15cm thick. Don’t forget to expel the air from the concrete by working through it with your shovel.
2. Mixing your mortar
Mortar has a limited life of no more than one-and-a-half to two hours, so only mix enough mortar for an hour or so. Use one part cement to five clean parts soft sand and add a plasticiser. Make sure your mix is neither too hard nor too sloppy.
3. Laying your first bricks
With your mortar on your mortarboard, you can begin laying your bricks.
Spread a thin layer of mortar (1cm thick) onto your foundation strip and place your first corner brick into the mortar, before running a line to the opposite corner of the wall.
Next, lay your second brick a metre or so along the line. Check with a spirit level, before laying bricks in fill the space in between, so as to complete your first layer.
Move onto your second layer, butting each brick with mortar before laying it. Make sure the amount of mortar in the joint is a uniform 1cm, and scrap away any excess mortar with your trowel. Using a smaller pointing trowel, remember to finish the joints before the mortar sets.
To prevent gaps in your wall, ensure each brick is laid with its frog (the indent on one of its faces) facing upwards.
4. Checking and adjusting
As you lay your bricks, you’ll need to check and adjust them. Using a gauge rod, ensure the corner of each of your bricks is at the correct height and use your spirit level to check each brick is horizontal.
Remember to check that the wall is vertical, using your spirit level, and horizontal by placing a straight edge along the wall. If needed, adjust your bricks so they are in line.
5. Building a garden wall
Begin building your garden wall by continuing to layer each course of bricks. Build up from the corners, then complete the rest of the wall, checking and adjusting as you go.
Finish the wall by using either a special coping or layer of capping bricks. This will prevent frost damage due to shedding rainwater and also adds a nice decorative twist.