HOW TO BUILD A GARDEN WALL
If you're on a budget, it is easy to build your own brick wall. You just need some materials, including a cement mixer, which you can hire from Speedy.
While an experienced bricklayer could likely get the job done quicker, if you make the right preparation and research the job, there is no reason why you can’t do a good job yourself.
If your garden wall will purely be decorative, such as separating a garden patio area from a grassed area or acting as a raised bed wall, giving it a go yourself is a great way to pick up the skills.
Having the right tools for the job is vital if you want the best results, which is why Speedy Services offer a range of high-quality tools for hire. All tools come with thorough instructions and are checked for safety, tested and cleaned before every hire.
WHAT YOU NEED TO BUILD A WALL
To build an outside wall, you need:
- Cement mixer
- Sand & cement for mortar
- Brick trowel
- Spirit level
- Tape measure
- Lines and pins
- Soft-bristled brush
You also need to wear the correct PPE. Gloves, a dust mask, safety boots and eye protection are recommended when building with brick and cement, as is protective clothing.
Cement is alkali and can cause skin burns, we advise you to immediately wash and dry your skin if contact does occur.
WHAT IS THE CORRECT RATIO OF CEMENT AND SAND?
If you’re using a cement mixer, you will need to correctly measure out the cement and sand before making your mortar mix. For brickwork, this is generally a 1:6 ratio of mortar. This means the ratio of cement: sand = 1 part of cement and 6 parts of sand.
When using a cement mixer, gradually add your water in stages so it doesn’t become too wet.
HOW TO BUILD A BRICK WALL
It goes without saying, but before you get started, you need to know exactly where you’re building so you can buy the correct materials. You will also need to ensure there is nothing in the way of your wall, such as tree roots.
Depending on your ground, you may also need to do some preparation work here. Dig a trench for your wall so it has a solid foundation; a half-metre deep trench for a brick wall up to one metre in height should be enough.
Fill this with concrete and allow to set for 2-3 days. Constantly check that it remains level until dried. You may need to cover it to protect it from adverse weather.
Step 1: Start at the corners
Lay out the single bricks at both ends of the wall. Using the string line, make a straight guideline at the same side of each brick so you can keep everything in a line. You don’t want any sticking out.
SPEEDY TOP TIP! If you will be creating a curved wall, line out the shape first so you have a guide to follow.
Step 2: Mix the mortar
Only mix enough to complete your first line of bricks for the moment. You don’t want the mortar to lose consistency or start to dry if left too long. Once done, lay your first brick. You should fix your initial corner bricks to the concrete base before anything else.
Step 3: Start building
Once the initial edge bricks are down, you can start adding your first course of bricks. A course of bricks is a continuous row of masonry, running horizontally to form a wall.
Add a bed of mortar to the concrete foundation, then the edge of the brick with your trowel, before placing it down up against the first brick. Tap it until it is flush and in place and remove excess mortar with your trowel.
If this excess mortar is free from dirt and debris, it can be used on your next brick too. Once a few have been laid, you should regularly use your spirit level to ensure everything is level. Repeat until your first line is complete.
Step 4: Stagger the bricks
Now for the second level. Bricks should be staggered for additional strength, which means placing a brick on top of the joint for the lower bricks. This does mean you will likely have to cut bricks in half, though.
To cut a brick in half, use a hammer and chisel or bolster. Locate the bolster at the split point (where you’d like it to cut) and strike firmly with the hammer. * Always remember to wear gloves and eye protection when completing this task.
It doesn’t need to be entirely clean-cut, as a rough edge will help to grip the mortar. Just use the original end on the outside if it will be visible instead.
Step 5: Keep building up
Repeat the process until you have a brick wall at your desired height. Keep using string to ensure your bricks are all in a line (or curve). You may also want to grab a piece of straight wood to guarantee that your vertical bricks are even as well.
Step 6: Finish the wall
Once you have reached your desired height, add the finishing touches. You may want to do a soldier course, which means turning the top layer of bricks on their long side and laying them at a 90-degree angle instead. This makes a nice finish, but you will need to do a lot of cutting if you only have a single depth of bricks.
This isn’t needed, though. You can just finish off with regular bricks. It is mostly used if your wall is a few bricks thick, as it hides the joins. When it is all complete, grab your soft-bristled brush and give the wall a good dust down to remove any excess mortar or brick dust.
Step 7: Leave to dry
It comes as no surprise that it all needs to be left to settle. Leave untouched for 24 hours.
Why not paint it using masonry paint? When your wall is built, you may also wish to add hanging pots, or troughs with plants, if it is a separator for two different areas.
WHAT IF I WANT TO USE CONCRETE BLOCKS?
Concrete blocks are commonly used for walls which need a bit more strength and substance for gardens. They also have more water resistance. They can be a good option for a retaining wall.
Depending on where you will be building your wall and how large it must be, you may find them easier to use. Follow the same process as above. You will need a ratio of 1:4 parts sand to cement for the mortar, rather than 1:6 as with brick.
CAN I HIRE A CEMENT MIXER?
Yes. Whatever the project, you can hire all your tools from Speedy Services, the UK’s number-one hire company. From your cement mixer to any future gardening tools, all tools are checked for safety before they are hired.
*Image by Harry Strauss from Pixabay
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