DIY Decorative Brick Walls

Building a decorative wall adds structure and enhances the look of a patio, walkway or garden. Decorative brick walls are laid with a simple, uniform pattern for stability, and they require only basic tools and materials. You don't need extensive construction experience to install a decorative wall under 3 feet, but you should consult with a building engineer if you plan to build higher.

Mark the site for your brick wall by placing a wooden stake at each corner and tying a string around each stake. Call the utility company to check that the site for your wall will not interfere with underground pipes and wires.

Dig a trench equal to the depth of your brick plus 6 inches for the foundation. Compact the trench with a hand tamper and check that the surface is level.

Spread a 4-inch layer of gravel over the trench and compact the surface to improve the wall's drainage and prevent the mortar from cracking.

Mix the mortar in a wheelbarrow according to the manufacturer's instructions. Consider mixing a half batch of mortar at a time to make it easier to mix. Position the wheelbarrow near the trench.

Pour a 2-inch layer of mortar into the trench and smooth it with a trowel.

Set your first course of bricks with 3/8 inch space between each, beginning at the left end and working your way to the right. Place the bricks straight and use a level to ensure the first course is even. The first course of brick should be submerged below ground.

Spread mortar over the first course in 2-foot sections so it doesn't begin to harden before you set the brick. Spread a thin layer of mortar on the right side of each brick. Lay your second course beginning with a half brick to offset the joints of each course. Each brick will overlap the joint of two bricks beneath it. Use the trowel to catch any mortar that squeezes between the bricks.

Build the brick wall up one course at a time until you reach the desired height. Place your level vertically against the wall with each course to ensure the wall is straight. Consider applying a brick sealant to the wall once the mortar is dry. Sealant prevents fading and protects bricks from water damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden stakes
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Mortar
  • Trowel
  • Level
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About the Author

Aurora LaJambre is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. For over five years she's covered topics in culture, lifestyle, travel, DIY design and green living for print and online media. Her publication credits include "WOW Women on Writing," "Six States" and She graduated from New York University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing.