I want to build raised flower beds with used bricks -- mostly sandstone 4"
depth and various heights from 2" to 8". Any experienced people want to
comment? Want to know if this is a bad idea or what problems might come up
and how to avoid them. Assume I am cleaning off the old mortar as well as I
Can a 2-foot wall that is 4" wide and 9 feet long hold or do I need to build
in supports? I'm thinking of doubling up the brick at key points along each
of the main walls of the flower beds (dimensions: 9' x 28").
A 2' serpentine wall might well hold if the soil drainage is good and
everything else is done perfectly. I've seen them free-standing at over
6' tall and I know that they have been done taller than that (not as a
retaining wall though) and they can be incredibly strong. And they are
beautiful. And they can use less brick than a standard doubled wall. The
one thing they are not, I'm afraid, is easy. A master mason could carry
it off once the concept was made clear but I would not encourage an
amateur to try it, especially as a first project.
You'll spend forever trying to chip off all that old mortar. I don't find
old brick/block with leftover mortar that pleasing to the eye but that's
my personal preference. I've done a lot of my own landscaping with pavers,
shaped blocks and bricks designed for landscaping and it always looks so
nice when completed. I don't have a lot of $$$ but did what I could
afford over a few months last summer.
I've gotten old bricks from people taking down old chimneys. The
mortor was generally so soft that you could break off thick chunks
with a tap of a hammer on a wide cold chisel, and the remains could be
easily washed off with my cheap electric pressure washer set for a fan
after they are clean, or just stack them.
My mother rented a place with a 6 foot, x 18 inches, by 1 foot high
planter, made from red brick. With a rustic shaped cement layer on
Eventually, I think it was freezing like Edwin says, but for sure one
of the long walls bulged out and then collapsed.
Even as tenants, my mother and I don't like to ask the landlord to do
things. (In this case, he might just have cleaned away the whole
thing, though I didn't think of that at the time.) I was visiting and
didn't have any tools so I just made up some mortar and used it as
glue to glue the already mortared pieces together, and to fill in any
places the mortar had come off.
I know it lasted 2 or 3 years, and then my mother moved here and I
didn't go back there, but I did manage to get back after about 12
years, and I couldn't decide if it was my work or not. The top cement
layer looked the same, but really couldn't tell if the bricks had been
redone. No one was home to ask, and I wasn't able to use the address
to find an phone number. I should have left a note.
To clarify, my plan is to mortal the bricks on top of concrete footings
about 8" deep. I live in Seattle where freezing is not a big issue -- the
frost line is essentially the surface of the ground. The ground where the
planters will lie drains well which I know from my 13 years of rainy
weather on this lot. I also plan to set weep holes in the walls to
One thing I've gathered from the comments is that a doubling the width of
the wall would be easier for an amatuer and more certain to hold. Sadly,
that makes the walls very bulky at over 8" thick.
Thank you for all of the responses, and my apologies for getting back to you
late. I've been tied up with other business. Hopefully, one or two of you
will have time to address my follow-up.
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