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When it comes to doing DIY self build projects for your garden, there is plenty of opportunity for innovation as there is a variety of garden decor and garden design construction projects to choose from.
You have the option to remodel something that already exists in your garden or on the other hand, self build something new to enhance the beauty and functionality of your garden.
This article is about garden walls and small brick or stone walls in general. More articles will be on soon about garden fences, paving and other garden decor and garden design topics.
If you are skilled in masonry work, you can attempt building small walls around your garden as a perimeter or boundary. These walls would serve more as an outline for enclosing the garden space than act as a physical means to limit access.
The lower height of the walls and the relatively low skill level needed to complete the project would make it an ideal starting point for people starting out on masonry projects.
The same walls can also be used to enclose rockeries, flower beds and bushes located at various spots in the garden.
You just need a few simple tools to construct walls. Based on the height and length of the walls, you can calculate the number of bricks (or stone blocks) you would need for the project. You can then determine the amount of cement that you need to mix to make the mortar for holding the bricks or stone blocks in place.
Before beginning work, you need to mark the boundaries of the walls on the sand or grass in the garden. You can use nails or pegs at the ends of the boundaries and tie a rope or thread to mark the boundaries of the walls. Then you need to dig a pit at least to a depth around 6 or 7 inches and a width of about 14 to 16 inches.
The side walls of the pit have to be perfectly vertical and perpendicular to the base of the pit. You can use a spirit level to ensure that the base of the pit is perfectly horizontal as well. Once the pit is completely finished, you can start constructing the walls.
You can also try a dry stone wall, or dry stone stacked wall. In this the wall has no mortar and is made of bricks (which might slide) or more commonly rocks, or concrete blocks with retaining lips so they stack. These walls are not very strong and often fail due to soil pressure and drainage problems. Dry stone walls are only suitable for low walls and require regular maintenance. Dry stone walls are a traditional feature and a traditional skill but fast disappearing.
Above: small retaining wall in garden, with compost bin hidden on top
The base of the walls should rest on a layer of gravel. So first fill around 4 inches of gravel into the pit and pack it using a hand packer or a motorized plate packer. Once the gravel is tightly packed, you can start laying the bottommost layer of bricks of the walls.
The bottommost layer is perhaps the most important layer because the rest of the wall would rest upon it. If this layer is not even or straight, the entire wall would not remain straight. So take care to ensure that the bottom layer is perfectly level and runs along a straight line. You can use a string to check that the sides of the bricks follow a straight line.
First apply a layer of mortar to the gravel and then start laying the first layer of bricks carefully, checking to see that they align perfectly as mentioned above. Check your progress constantly using a string to see if the edges of the bricks align properly. Once you have finished laying the bottommost layer, apply another layer of mortar and continue with the next layer of bricks. As the walls rise up, check that they are perfectly vertical using a plumb line.
Once you have finished all the layers, apply a smooth coat of mortar to the entire surface of the walls to give them a good finish. Finally paint the walls with an appropriate color.
Apart from building walls, you can also attempt gates and fences as boundaries for play areas for children to ensure their safety. You can choose appropriate materials to make your projects eco-friendly as well.
You can also build boxes, sheds and storage bins for your garden. You must also weatherproof the structures in the garden.
More articles are being added about these garden decor and garden design topics.
See our other article on Water features & fountains >