A soldier course is a row of bricks all oriented in the same direction which have been placed on their sides so that the long, narrow side of the brick shows. Bricks of any size and style can be used to make a soldier course, and there are a few variations on this bricklaying course which can be used to add visual interest to a masonry installation. An experienced bricklayer can do this work, or someone who feels reasonably comfortable with masonry can create or repair a soldier course.
The idea behind the name is that when one looks at the long narrow side of a brick, it is supposed to resemble a soldier standing at attention. A soldier course can be laid horizontally or perpendicularly in relation to another course of bricks, with soldier courses commonly being used for edging. As edging, they create visual interest and also a clear boundary and demarcation.
One way to make a soldier course more visually interesting is to use bricks in a color which contrasts with that used for the rest of the bricklaying. For example, if a path is paved in red bricks, it could be edged with soldier courses in buff colored bricks. The color difference would also help to highlight the edge, ensuring that people are aware of where the paved area begins and ends.
Another technique is to use multiple soldier courses, which may be in the same color or in contrasting colors. A quadruple soldier course is usually the furthest one wants to go to avoid having the boundary of a project turn into the main project. The bricks in soldier courses can also be trimmed to create curves, or mitered around corners to keep the visual appearance of the bricks crisp and clean.
This type of brickwork can be used to edge paving and patios, along with windows and doors in structures with brick cladding. A soldier course may also be used as a decorative accent on a sidewalk or similar type of paving, or as an edging for gravel walks. Soldier courses of brick or stone can be combined with masonry executed in other materials, as well, which can make masonry more visually interesting or meet specific design goals. For example, people may want to edge a pathway in bright brick which will be clearly visible to people with visual impairments so that they will not accidentally stray off the path, or create a raised border which will be detectable to a cane, acting as a warning sign that the boundary of the path has been reached.