Plan on doing this project over a couple of weekends. Lay the footings for the wall and allow it to dry for a few days before starting to build the wall.

In this technique, we build up the ends of the wall, like a flight of steps, and filling in the central area. Getting the first course of brickwork in the right position is essential. Keep checking it using profile boards and a level.

Step 1

Lay Strip Footing

Drive in a stake at each end of the trench down to footing depth, and at intervals of 3 to 6 feet. Make sure they are vertical (image 1). Rest a level across the tops of adjacent stakes to make sure they are level (image 2). Pour concrete into the trench up to the top of the stakes (image 3). Use a metal float to smooth the concrete. The footings should be left to dry for a few days before building the wall (image 4).

Step 2

Lay the First Bricks

Attach lines to the nails on your profile boards to provide a guide for the first course of bricks (Image 1).

Dry-lay the first row of bricks allowing for mortar joints of 1/2 inch. Cut half-bricks to maintain the bond (Image 2).

Mix up some mortar and lay a bed just over 1/2 inch deep for the first three bricks at the start of the first course (Image 3).

Use the point of the trowel to make some furrows in the mortar along its central line (Image 4).

Lay the first brick, applying a little pressure to bed it into the mortar. Use a level to check its alignment with the string lines above (Image 5). In this example, simple piers are being constructed at each end of the wall.

Step 3

Complete the Course

Butter the end of the next brick and position it next to the first on the bed of mortar (Image 1).

Lay a level across the top of the bricks to check that they are level (Image 2). Apply more pressure to the top of the bricks where required in order to get them level.

Cut away excess mortar from around the brick bases, and remove excess mortar from the vertical joints (Image 3). Check and recheck their position, using the level across the top.

Continue along the course, positioning two or three bricks at a time and then cleaning the joints. Remove the profile boards and lines when the course is complete (Image 4).

Step 4

Rack the Ends

Start building the pier and the end of the wall by three more courses. This is the best practice and will make it easier to fill in the rest of the bricks later. Use a level to check that the pier is plumb and level (Image 1).

Use your gauging rod to keep the mortar joints even (Image 2).

Add two more courses so you have a series of stepped bricks leading up to the top of the pier (Image 3). Keep checking levels using the gauging rod and level.

Step 5

Infill the Courses

Repeat the racking procedure at the other end of the wall. Use a level as shown to check bond and levels (Image 1).

Drive line pins into the mortar joint above the first course of bricks at each end. Tie a line between them. Use this as a guide to fill in bricks for the second course (Image 2).

Fill in all the way to the top if the wall is to extend no higher than you have racked (Image 3). Otherwise, rack back each end once you have filled in two or three courses.

Lay the top course of the wall indented-side down (Image 4). Alternatively, you can lay other types of coping to finish the top of the wall.

Step 6

Point the Joints

Fill any areas of missing mortar in the wall, ensuring that joints are neat and flush with the bricks (Image 1). Let the mortar begin to cure, but do not let it harden too much. How long this takes will vary, so start checking after one hour, less in hot weather.

When the mortar is firm, clean the joints. A brick jointer (shown here) can be used to create a V-shaped profile (Image 2).

Garden wall joints can be pointed in a number of other ways. Here, weatherstruck joints are created by using a pointing trowel to angle the mortar joint so that it is recessed at the top and flush with the brick at the bottom (Image 3). This helps the wall shed water.