Whether you are looking to repair an old garden wall, refurbish a shed or garage, or you want to create a garden feature that is in keeping with the rest of your garden décor, reclaimed bricks are the ideal solution.
If you have a pile of old bricks in the garden, there’s no reason to leave them lying around, and you don’t have to throw them away. Give them a bit of a clean to remove dirt and leftover mortar, or you can use them exactly as they are, depending on the type of feature you’re considering adding to your outdoor space. Even if you don’t have an existing stock of used bricks, you can still use old bricks to create garden features. Reclaimed bricks come from sources like abandoned buildings, bridges, and other dilapidated buildings.
Reclaimed bricks are better for the environment and enable users to reduce their carbon footprint. They also come in a wide array of colors and sizes, and by matching bricks to your existing buildings and walls, you don’t even have to wait for them to weather before you can enjoy a great looking installation. You don’t have to source reclaimed bricks yourself, either, and can buy any number from 10 to hundreds of thousands of bricks; ideal for any project.
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Brick paths can be permanent or more temporary. They can be straight, or they can meander through the different sections of your garden. By using the most appropriate style of brick, you can create a contemporary or a classical looking path, and you can combine brick colors, such as blue and red, to create a stunning visual effect. The brick path laying process is easier than you might think, although you will need cement if you want a permanent base, and you will need additional materials like sand and will benefit from the use of wooden stakes. The complexity and design of the path will ultimately determine the exact materials and items that you require.
A typical garden path needs to be at least 36 inches wide, which allows people to quickly move down the path. Plan the course of the path before you start digging.
Sweep sand over the bricks to fill the gaps between, and bear in mind that after the first rain hits the path, you may need to sweep some moreover.
A garden bench obviously provides a seating area in the garden, and you can make the bench a permanent addition to your garden through the use of mortar and cement. While you don’t have to use mortar, a dry brick bench is more likely to collapse and move.
A barbecue lets you expand your usable living space, and it enables you to prepare your food outside as well as eat it. Building your barbecue, using reclaimed bricks, means that you can dictate the dimensions and size, as well as the placement and even the style of barbecue or outdoor cooking area that you want. You can create a grill for barbecuing, with a brick oven for making pizza, bread, and other dishes.
If you are building a grill on a concrete or other solid surface, you can add concrete directly onto this surface. Otherwise, if you are building onto a grass or earth surface, you will need to create a solid base for the foundation, which means digging down and using concrete and bricks in the same way as for the bench above.
Lay the bricks lengthways and aim for seven rows. This should provide you with a decent height that allows you to cook comfortably without having to stretch. It also allows enough room for two racks. Turn bricks side on to create a ledge for the racks, and you can even add a stone or concrete slab to create a work surface.
Firebricks are a more vitrified version of standard house bricks. They will not absorb water and are less prone to explosion and other damage from the combination of moisture and heat.
Edging flower beds sharpens up the design of your garden by effectively creating a border between earth flower beds and the grassed lawn. Edging your beds also enables you to keep soil and mulch away from the lawn.
You can use a range of different materials as flower bed edging, but if you have bricks leftover from a previous project or have demolished a shed or wall and have a lot of bricks, you can use these to give your extra garden appeal. Do make sure that you have enough bricks to finish the edging but remember that some brick reclamation yards offer a brick matching service that guarantees you will find extra pieces to finish your project.
Using and matching existing brickwork gives your garden a sense of uniformity and ensures that your exterior design is in keeping with the design of your property and outbuildings.
Water features can look beautiful, but they serve other purposes too. They offer greater ecological diversity, encouraging a more diverse range of insects, animals, and natural plants. The sound of running water is also considered tranquil and relaxing, and they can work in a garden of almost any size.
Whether you want a purely aesthetic water feature, or a pond or other feature where you can keep fish and other animals, you can recycle existing bricks to create an attractive finish for any style of water feature.
A brick pond or feature will need lining to ensure it retains the water, and this can be done using a pond liner. Bricks can be used to build a raised pond, or as edging around the feature. They can be used to create a stunning backdrop for a garden waterfall, too.
While many of us think of red engineering bricks, when we first think of bricks, there is a whole spectrum of colors and styles to choose from. You can use these wildly varied colors to create a stunning, bold, and beautiful backdrop to your garden design.
There are some innovative designs that have been created using nothing more than bricks, but you can combine them with tiles and other materials in order to broaden the range of colors.
Alternatively, you can paint any existing bricks, and even let the children have a go. You could create a children’s decorative area, have them paint and sign the bricks, and update the design every year or two with new designs.
A fire pit offers a great way to extend the time you can spend in the garden. Fire pits are available in different materials, but if you want to create your own then a brick firepit combines safety and ease of use. Unless you have fire bricks, you should consider lining the brick pit with a material that can withstand the heat, otherwise, the bricks may crack and break, and require replacing.
Rather than digging into the garden and using mortar to create a permanent fire pit, you can stack bricks above ground. This kind of design works best to frame or surround a hole that you’ve dug out yourself, and it means that you can move the bricks in the future. You do need to ensure that everything is secure and safe, but the bricks can also be used to help prevent flames and heat from transferring from your new fire pit to the plants and other items in your garden.
A tree surround offers a lot of the same benefits as a planter surround. It prevents soil and earth from the foot of the tree, getting onto the lawn, and it keeps the mulch out of the areas that you don’t want it. If you intend to use mulch around the base of the tree, then a brick ring will help keep the area in order.
Aesthetically, a tree ring can tidy up areas around the base of your favorite tree. By using bricks reclaimed from your own garden, you can enjoy a uniform design around the whole of your exterior. You do need to ensure that you leave enough room around the tree for it to grow, and bear in mind that no matter how far you bury the foundations, the roots will be able to break through any mortar and bricks that you use.
If you’re an experienced and skilled bricklayer, there are virtually no limits to the kind of construction you can create. Create unique twisted arches or get really creative and sculpt and carve your own designs directly into the brick wall.
The process of carving brickwork is long and laborious, typically using hand tools, rather than electrical tools. Professional carvers use a selection of tools, and a single carving can take several weeks or even months to complete. Of course, you don’t have to carve a complex design, and you can develop your own techniques to customize any brickwork. Combine colored bricks, and even consider painting some of the bricks to create an even better-looking design.
A cold frame is effectively a very small greenhouse. It is used to grow small plants, and protect them from the elements, without the need for artificial heating inside. The glazed lid of the cold frame allows UV and natural light in and prevents heat from escaping.
The roof is sloped to allow for the runoff of water, and while you can buy cold frames that have clear walls, if you need additional warmth, or you want a cold frame with a design that is sympathetic to existing buildings and outbuildings, then a cold frame with brick walls will retain more heat and give a traditional appearance to your garden.
Traditional cold frames have a sloped roof, which means that you will need to cut or break bricks at an angle. Take care when creating the sloped lid. Glass offers the greatest thermal properties, but if you have children then it is a safer idea to use Perspex sheets instead of glass.
Raised planters have a number of benefits over a more traditional planting design. They prevent the soil from compacting and from escaping from your beds to your lawn or pathway. They are also easier to access for those with limited mobility, or if you simply don’t want to have to kneel down on the ground while weeding and planting. Generally, raised planters offer better drainage and the soil is kept warmer, so they can even make it possible to plant earlier during the year.
Many materials can be used for raised beds, but bricks are stable, will withstand damp and wet earth sitting against them all day, and you can customize the shape and size of the planters that you create. Remember that the higher and larger the bed you make, the more soil you will need in order to be able to fill it.
Garden and outdoor steps offer access and also improve the aesthetic appeal of a garden. Brick and mortar steps offer the advantage of being textured, which means that they are safe to walk on even when it is raining or frosty. They also have a classic charm that is impossible to replicate with concrete or other materials.
When building steps, or creating brick walkways, it is important that you plan the steps carefully. Draw out your design on paper, before transferring this to your garden. The depth of the steps can range between 100mm and 180mm and should be between 300mm and 460mm to ensure a safe and comfortable walk up and down.
If you have a broken or damaged garden wall, you can use the existing bricks and repair that wall. Sometimes, if there is a lot of damage, and if a lot of the wall bricks have fallen down, it can prove simpler to pull down the whole wall and start rebuilding. Use a brick matching service to help buy any additional and replacement bricks that match your existing stock.
If you are going to try replacing some of the bricks, you need to ensure that you clear away all dirt and debris, as well as mortar, from the bricks that you intend to attach to. Use wire brushes and a small hammer but take care not to crack bricks that are in good condition. Plan the layout of your repairs before you start mixing the cement and stick to any layout patterns or designs.
If the wall is in particularly poor condition, or you want to create a new wall in your garden and have the bricks, you can build your own freestanding garden wall. It is satisfying when you finish, you can create the design that you want, and you can use existing bricks to help finish the project. You can combine colors of brick, and you can even incorporate tiles and other items to further enhance the look of the wall.
When building your own wall, make sure that you dig down, compact the floor underneath, and plan carefully before you start laying the bricks. Use levels and builder’s squares to ensure that all the lines are perfectly straight because slight deviations can have a huge impact on the life of the wall itself.
Bricks come in many shapes and sizes, traditionally dependent on the type and composition of soil found in the local area. You can use existing bricks found in the garden, although you will need to check that they aren’t too badly damaged and are still in a good, usable condition. For some projects, you may need to clean them up a little, but for some builds, you can use them in the natural state they are already in.
Reclaimed Bricks is a brick reclamation yard with more than half a million reclaimed bricks in various styles, designs, and colors. They offer a brick matching service, as well as fast delivery to your home or building site.
Ray Hughes some great ideas
What about a plinth to put a potted plant on top of?