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Build A Garden Wall From A Scaffold Tower

December 21st, 2010

Putting up a brick wall can truly be tempting to the DIYer. There’s a pleasing element of calm that comes with wall building – with the precision and the repetition of it.

Although building load-bearing or major iinternal walls would be best left to a professional, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try doing a garden wall, or even a brick wall for a shed. A wall at the foot of the garden would be a good place to start.

While short walls require no more than time, cement mix, sand and lime, bricks, a flat board and a brickie’s trowel, water, spray paint or a ball of twine, a spirit level, a tape measure and some stakes, if you want to attempt building a bigger wall you need to also hire a scaffold tower, so you can access the higher sections of the wall easily and securely By taking away the requirement to stretch and overreach, you’re likely to build a far straighter and truer wall. Check your council’s building regulations before building a wall over 2 metres tall.

Before you start setting up your scaffold tower, you need to set your vital foundation. Check that the area you’re building on has relatively hard soil and easy drainage. Mark the piece of land you want tobuild in, using spray paint or string and stakes.

With everything marked out, you need, quite simply, to get digging. If you’re building a 2-metre wall, your foundations need to be 45 centimetres deep and 60cm wide. After you’ve dug down deep (literally and metaphorically!) put a stake at each end of your trench and mark them at the depth you want the foundations to be.

Mix your cement. Foundation cement needs to be 1 part of cement to 5 parts of ballast; when it’s ready, pour it into the trench, level it off, then let it set for a day before starting to lay your bricks.

When the foundations are dry, and assuming you want tobuild a 2m wall, you’ll need to erect your scaffold tower. Scaffold towers come in very easy to assemble sets, usually with colour-coded sections. As they’re on lockable wheels, scaffold towers can be easily pushed from one end of your wall to the other with all of your gear still in place, making your new brickie skills far easier.

Scaffold tower and foundations prepared, ensure that you have 130 bricks per sq.m of double wall you’re building – all walls over 75cm high should be double-thickness, so they’re sturdy.

Finally, it’s time to mix your mortar withthe cement, sand and lime and water. For protected walls, use 1 part cement, 1 part lime and 6 parts sand; if it’s going to be battered by the seasons, your wall should be stronger, so mix 1 part cement , ½ part lime and 4 parts sand. Mix your mortar on a flat board, so you don’t mess up your garden. First, pour on half of the sand, then heap on the rest of the ingredients before adding the remaining half of sand and mixing it up with a spade. Make a well in the centre pour in a little water and start mixing with the trowel. Keep adding water until it is wet enough to slip off the trowel, but still keeps its shape when you make a hole in it. Mortar only stays useable for a couple of hours, so don’t make too much!

Finally, you’re ready to begin actually laying the bricks! Lay a brick laterally at the ends of the foundation and wrap a piece of twine between then, so you have a guide; scoop up a trowel of mortar, dash it next to the first brick, and lay a brick on top of it with the frog facing up (the frog is the depressed side of the brick- not a small amphibian!). Your first brick is done. Do the same again with the scoop of mortar into the foundation, then scrape some mortar on the end of the next brick and place it by the one you have already laid. Carefully tap both bricks down with the end of your trowel, so that they are level with the twine (also use a spirit level) and remove any superflous mortar that has pushed out the sides. Repeat until there are two rows of bricks length of your foundations.

The next decision should be what bond you would like – the Flemish or English bond – each is great at ensuring your wall doesn’t fall down; the decision is up to you what you like in a wall.

Lay your wall up to a metre from the ground, then turn to your scaffold tower. With the scaffold tower supporting you at exactly the right height, you’ll be able to drift into your DIYer’s meditative state as you slap on the mortar and lay brick after brick. All of a sudden you’ll be boasting about how ache-free you are because you use a scaffold tower — beside your inaugral home-built wall, tapping your foot merrily on the access tower platform and deciding where you can build another wall!

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