How do I Build Garden Brick Walls?

Patrick Lynch

Building garden brick walls is generally not a complicated procedure with mortar and brick the main requirements. Ensure that the mortar is mixed properly and not allowed to go too hard. It will probably be necessary to use two layers of brick because a single layer is too weak to deal with inclement weather. Create an even foundation by digging a trench of at least 1 foot (30 cm) before laying the bricks with their indentation facing up. Always begin the process in the corner before filling in the bricks in the middle.

A brick trowel and bricks.
A brick trowel and bricks.

The most important ingredients when building garden brick walls are the mortar and the blocks. When mixing the mortar, never allow it to become hard when it sets. Mix five parts of clean sand for every part of concrete and add some plasticizer which improves the texture of the mixture. Sloppy mortar is difficult to handle and will be wasted because the weight of the bricks will squeeze the mortar out.

Bricks must be put down quickly because mortar usually sets within two hours.
Bricks must be put down quickly because mortar usually sets within two hours.

Building garden brick walls is not a job that can be performed slowly. Mortar generally does not last more than two hours once it has been set. After this length of time, it gets too hard to use and should not be softened with water. There are dozens of brick types, but ones with medium density are the number one choice for garden brick walls. Bricks that are too soft will quickly be weakened by wind and rain.

If regular bricks are used, the wall will be approximately 4.5 inches (11.25 cm) thick, although this includes a 1/2 inch (1 cm) of mortar. Walls more than 16 inches (40 cm) high need additional thickness because standard-sized bricks are not thick enough for high walls. Add pillars to the wall to increase support. Another option is to use two layers of brick for a 9 inch (22.5 cm) thick wall which is enough to withstand the elements.

Garden brick walls without a solid foundation will not stand the test of time and will be difficult to build in the first place. The foundation of the wall must always be horizontal. If the ground where the wall is being built on is sloped, cut the foundation stone to the same angle.

The size of the wall depends on how much of a foundation should be dug. Light garden brick walls need a 1 foot (30 cm) trench dug to support them. Add 6 inches (15 cm) to this depth if the wall is being built on unsteady or soft ground. The hole should also be double the width of the brickwork.

Lay the bricks with the indentation facing up. Doing so ensures that mortar fills the indentations with no gaps left in the wall. Once the foundation has been laid, mix enough mortar to last an hour and place bricks beside the wall. It may be a good idea to lay a dry line of bricks first to make sure they fit correctly.

Continue your work by laying a brick in the corner of the wall and place another in the center. Check it with a spirit level to make sure it is level. Work from left to right while always keeping the wall straight. After a few rows have been laid, go back to the corners and build them to the top. Once it has been concluded that they are straight, fill in the rest of the bricks and complete the wall.

While creating a foundation, always lay bricks with their indentation facing up.
While creating a foundation, always lay bricks with their indentation facing up.

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Discussion Comments


Garden walls can also be constructed by simply layering bricks, rocks and stones on top of one another without mortar. You have to be sure to dig a good trench for the first layer and pack dirt around both sides of the first row also.


The key to building a garden wall you will be pleased with is planning. Decide exactly where you want the wall, and decide how high you want it to be. Also, a good idea is to actually stack the bricks ahead of time without the mortar to see how the wall will fit in with the surroundings.

Of course, this last suggestion requires more work, but I find it helpful, and seeing the wall ahead of time has made me rethink my plans on more than one occasion.


If you have never worked with brick and mortar then you should be prepared for a few unexpected obstacles, and you should be prepared to accept a less then perfect job. If this is not the case then I suggest you hire a professional to build your wall.

Don't depend on the sight test when building the wall. Use a level and remember to stagger the bricks so they are not stacked right on top of one another.

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