How to build brick pillars

Written by judy kilpatrick | 13/05/2017
How to build brick pillars
Brick pillars add a focal point to the landscape. (rose columns portrait image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

Construct brick pillars to support a fence or to add vertical dimension to your garden landscape. They can also define an entryway or provide support for lamps, as well as creating create a sense of drama and security. The effect of brick pillars in the garden is similar to the psychological effect of trees in the landscape: They add a sense of strength and stability while they also provide utilitarian function. In a young garden the middle height dimension is often missing, with only newly planted shrubbery and mature trees. Adding garden pillars to the landscape provides the mid-level dimension for a more pleasing effect.

How to build brick pillars
Form up the pillar footer. (people at work concrete image by Greg Pickens from

Remove soil from a square with sides equal to twice the width of the pillar and the depth equal to the width of the pillar to create a footer. Make certain the footer is deep enough to allow 6 inches of gravel below the frost line.

Install a form frame if the soil is loose. Measure and cut boards to make a square that fits inside the excavated hole. Nail together and place inside the footer. Make certain the top of the form is perfectly level using a carpenter's level. Oil the boards with used motor oil or other oil to help prevent them from sticking to the concrete.

Pour gravel into the footer to a depth of 6 inches. Tamp down until the layer is firm.

Mix the cement according to instructions on the bag. Pour the cement into the footer.

Level the cement with a screed board. Rest the board on either edge of the footer form, move the board back and forth from one end of the form to the other in a gentle rocking motion to settle the cement and level the surface.

Trowel the surface smooth. Cover the footer and allow it to cure for two days before constructing the pillar. Remove the form when the concrete is cured.

How to build brick pillars
Brick pillars need a concrete foundation for stability. (red towers image by D200 from

Prepare the mortar mix according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Put mortar on the footer with a mason's trowel where the bottom and ends of the first line of bricks will rest. Lay the bricks in the pattern you have chosen using basic masonry construction methods.

Check each layer for level and plumb on all sides. Tap the bricks as necessary into correct position.

Place a finial on top the column.


Find out the depth of the frost line in the location where you will construct your brick pillars. The gravel base for each footer should be below this.

Tips and warnings

  • Find out the depth of the frost line in the location where you will construct your brick pillars. The gravel base for each footer should be below this.

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Measuring tape
  • Boards
  • Carpenter's level
  • Motor oil
  • Gravel
  • Tamper
  • Concrete
  • Screed board
  • Cement trowel
  • Mortar
  • Mason's trowel
  • Bricks
  • Builder's square
  • Finial of your choice

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