Building with brick can be pleasant work, but it takes some practice before you become proficient. This handsome wall will be strong enough for a planting bed up to 2 feet high. Anything higher requires a double brick wall. It will take a couple of weekends to become competent at bricklaying, but the results will be well worth the effort. The completed project will be a permanent landscaping feature you can be proud of.
Choose bricks that will survive well in continually wet conditions. Common brick may not be strong enough. Be prepared to give your material supplier the length and height of the wall you plan to build. If the bricks have holes in them, purchase special cap bricks for the top course. Arrange to have the bricks resting on a strong pallet near the job site.
Consult your building supplier for the right mixture of cement, lime, and sand, or buy mortar mix. You will need a mortar board (a 3-foot-square piece of plywood nailed to two 2x4s works fine), a wheelbarrow or large container for mixing mortar, a mortar hoe, a brick-set chisel, a mason's line with line blocks, a pointing trowel, a joint raking tool, and a joint pointer (either convex or V-shaped).
Make a story pole -- a length of 1x2 with evenly spaced lines marking the height of each course of bricks. Install a level concrete footing, combining a 12-inch-deep, reinforced, and concrete-filled trench twice as wide as the brick wall will be with concrete footings every 4 feet that extend beneath the frost line.
Continued on page 2: Step-By-Step