How to Build a Patio Wall

Building a low brick wall to edge the patio requires slightly higher than average DIY skills. But it’s hardly the stuff of architects and other experts. When the sun arrives, few of us want to be indoors painting, decorating or plastering: constructing a garden wall is an ideal summer job.

Begin with the foundation, or ‘footings’; if your wall is to be about 450mm high, it’ll need a trench at least 300mm by 300mm. Pour pre-mixed cement or a mix of one part mortar to six parts ballast into the trench to a depth of about 150mm, using a fence post to bash any trapped air out of it.

To keep everything straight, stretch a bricklayer’s line along the footings at precisely the top level of the first row of bricks (allow 10mm for the first layer of mortar on the footings). Mix ready-made mortar with water on a protective scrap board until it’s smooth and thick enough to hold its shape when you make a hole in it with a trowel. Apply a 10mm thick layer of mortar to the footings and then, just like buttering toast, spread some mortar onto the end of the first brick. Lay the brick onto the mortar, hollow (or ‘frog’) uppermost, and carry on until you’ve got your first layer. Keep checking with a spirit level to make sure it’s horizontal.

Build up from the corners, using a wooden batten at the ends to ensure vertical accuracy. Stagger the bricks, using half-bricks at the end of each alternate layer. Complete by laying a row of bricks sideways to protect against rain. Stand back and admire your craftsmanship.

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