How to build a cinder block garden pillar

Written by danny donahue
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How to build a cinder block garden pillar
Concrete breeze blocks can be used to make structural or decorative pillars or walls. (mason, brick image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

A garden is a personalised showcase of your growing and landscaping skills. One way to accent certain spots in your garden is to raise some plants or ornaments above the level of the ground. A garden pillar is one way to elevate your showcase items and create those focal points in your garden. Breeze blocks are solid, durable building materials that you can use to create your own pillars. A properly installed breeze block pillar will withstand the elements and last for many years.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Treated post (4 inches square by 8 feet)
  • 4-foot level
  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Cement mixer
  • Concrete float
  • Wheel barrow
  • Breeze blocks (8 inches by 8 inches by 12 inches)
  • Mortar
  • Sand
  • Masonry trowel
  • Hammer
  • 6d galvanised nails
  • Hand saw
  • Solid breeze blocks (2 inches by 8 inches by 12 inches)
  • Thumb joiner

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Dig a hole 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep with a shovel. Stand your 4-foot square post in the hole and add 12 inches of gravel to the bottom of the hole. Hold your level to each side of the post and manoeuvre the 4-by-4 so it is perfectly plumb.

  2. 2

    Turn on your cement mixer. Add the concrete and water to the mixer. Add the water first and use the ratio of concrete to water that is recommended on the concrete bag. Combine the ingredients thoroughly. Turn off the mixer. Shovel the concrete into the hole around the post.

  3. 3

    Stab your shovel into the concrete in the hole to vibrate and settle the concrete. Check and adjust the post a necessary to be sure it is still perfectly plumb. Smooth the surface of the concrete with your concrete float. Float the concrete every hour for 6 hours. Let the concrete cure for 72 hours.

  1. 1

    Cut the wooden post 4 inches shorter than the planned height of your finished pillar. Combine mortar, sand and water in your mixer. Shovel mortar into your wheel barrow. Scoop the mortar out of the wheel barrow and lay it onto the concrete footer with your trowel. Lay a 2-inch base of mortar on top of the base.

  2. 2

    Lay four breeze blocks in a square onto the bed of mortar. Place the end of a block 1/2 inch away from the side of the block you laid before it. Push the blocks down to seat them and compress the mortar bed to 1/2 inch. Fill the gaps between the blocks, the holes in the blocks and the space between the blocks and post with mortar.

  3. 3

    Use your hammer to drive a 6d nail through a brick tie and into the post. Bend the metal strip so that its free end rests on top of one of the blocks in your square. Scrape the excess mortar from the outer edges of your square and put it into your wheel barrow for use later in the pillar.

  4. 4

    Pile mortar on top of your first square of breeze blocks. Lay a square of four blocks on top of the first group. Leave 1/2 inch of space between the blocks. Arrange the blocks so that the mortar joints do not line up with those in the first group. Fill the holes and gaps with mortar. Add a brick tie to the post to anchor the new layer. Scrape the excess mortar away from the outside of the blocks.

  5. 5

    Continue stacking the breeze blocks to form your pillar. Remember to fill all of the gaps with mortar and add a brick tie to each level of the pillar. Lay a layer of thin, solid blocks across the opening on top of the blocks to complete your pillar. Wait for a half hour after the column is complete. Drag the smooth, curved end of the thumb joiner over each visible mortar joint in your pillar.

Tips and warnings

  • Work gloves and safety glasses are required when using power tools and cement mixers.

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