Garden Wall specialists - what you need to know
Garden walls add a touch of panache to your outdoor space. But they’re there to do more than just elevate your garden design.
There are many reasons why you might need to build a garden wall. Often garden walls are selected over alternatives like fencing because they provide a solid base to fix another structure on (or to). Garden walls can be used to support fencing and pergolas, suspend bulky items like planters, and shallow walls can be used to support decking too. A solid brick wall can also act as a retainer, holding soil and earth in place – particularly handy if your garden has a steep slope or bank.
But garden walls can help to solve other issues. For example, their robust brick construction makes them ideal for reducing road noise. They can also provide an elegant privacy-boosting solution.
Whatever your reason for building a garden wall, find an expert, reliable bricklayer. They’ll ensure your brick boundary is structurally sound, and built to last.
Cost of garden wall building
Most garden wall building jobs will be priced per square metre. So, the price you pay will be influenced by the size of the wall you want to have constructed. Excluding materials (the bricks or stone you choose will affect the price significantly), expect to pay:
- For a single-skin wall, anywhere from £200–£300 per sqm
- For a double-skin wall, anywhere from £250–£400 per sqm
How to build a garden wall
The process to build a garden wall will differ depending on what purpose your wall needs to serve – whether it’s there to act as a retaining wall, or is simply intended to be a neat perimeter.
Your bricklayer will usually follow this five-step process:
- Drawing up plans. Your bricklaying expert should begin by sketching out the design and size of your wall, so there’s no confusion about what you want (and what you’re paying for). Make sure any shrubs, plants, other garden features, and (crucially) electrical cables and water pipes are included, so there are no shocks as the ground is dug for the next phase – foundations. A single-skin wall often won’t provide enough solidity, so most bricklayers will recommend building a wall that’s double skin (two bricks wide).
- Laying foundations. Even shallow garden walls need a solid base to sit on. Your tradesperson will be able to advise on the depth of the foundations you need for your wall. Usually, they’ll dig a trench around 300-mm deep, pouring concrete to the required level and tamping it down to form an even, flat surface when it dries.
- Preparation for laying. Your bricklayer will then set out a string line to ensure blocks and bricks are laid neatly. At this stage they’ll mix up mortar – typically six parts sand, one part cement and one part hydrated lime, with mortar plasticiser added to the water.
- Laying blockwork. Then it’s time to lay the blocks or bricks. Beginning at one end, your bricklayer will spread the mortar along the string line, around 12–15 mm in depth. Once the first brick is laid in place, it’ll be gently tapped down, compressing the mortar to a 10-mm depth. The next brick should be laid with around a 10-mm gap. To give the blockwork that classic overlapping pattern, the next row (or course) begins with a half brick, so each new complete brick straddles the joint on the row below.
- Pointing. As the mortar sets, it can be neatly pointed in using a trowel. For a smart finish, your bricklayer should aim to smooth the mortar back to a few millimetres from the brick face. And, after clearing away any mess, that’s the job done.
Types of bricks for garden walls
- Standard clay brick walls. These are the most common types of brick walls, and are the cheapest option too. You’ll have the choice of a range of bricks – in different sizes, styles and colours. For something more authentic or rustic, you could consider reclaimed or second-hand bricks – just beware you can pay more for these bricks than new ones.
- Natural stone walls. For a top-end finish, look no further than natural stone. Depending on how rugged you want your wall to look, you can opt from an undressed stone (which is essentially the raw stone that’s been dug from a quarry) through to a fully dressed stone – typically machine-cut into neat blocks. Natural stone walls are impressive, but you’ll pay premium prices for that premium style.
- Dry and semi-dry stone walls. A genuine dry stone wall will be built without mortar, using stones which fit neatly together. Finding those jigsaw puzzle pieces can make dry stone walls expensive though, so another option (which might save time and material costs) is semi-dry stone walling. To the untrained eye, it appears to be a genuine dry-stone wall, but there’s mortar hidden between the joints to reinforce the structure.
The qualifications your garden wall building expert needs
Your garden wall builder won’t need to hold accreditations or formal qualifications, but an apprenticeship, diploma or some form of vocational training in bricklaying is helpful.
Beyond that, look for experience and evidence of previous garden wall building work they have completed. And ensure they’re able to provide a number of independent customer references.
Planning permission for garden wall building
Garden walls standing over one-metre tall and bordering a public road or pavement require planning permission. And the same goes for any garden wall over two metres in height. You can read more about planning permission for garden walls on the Planning Portal website.
Insurance for garden wall building assembly
Make sure your property and possessions are protected against any damage by asking your professional for proof of their public liability cover.
Questions you should ask your garden wall building expert
- Will they be quoting by the size of the wall, or on a day-rate basis?
- Can they supply bricks and materials?
- Will a single-skin wall be sufficient, or will a double-skin wall be required?
- Are they able to build natural stone walls as well as brick walls?