Garden wall built in March looks great in July!

A fresh front yard vegetable garden in historic Fisher Park near downtown Greensboro, NC, looks like its been part of the neighborhood for decades. But the nifty brick retaining wall was only installed in late March.

Pine Hall Brick distributor sales manager Rick Leonard undertook the project at his son’s and daughter-in-law’s home.

Rick chose Old Hampton Oversized Tumbled brick that was perfect for the neighborhood of 100-year-old homes. It’s part of the Pine Hall Brick Tidewater Series, designed to resemble the texture of colonial wood-mold and handmade brick.

The aged look and patina of the brick blends beautifully as the garden matures. It’s inviting and tidy with flowers and tasty edibles. And there’s no mowing necessary.

The design is simple. It’s not an especially high wall, but following some standard landscaping principles of retaining walls ensures that the garden has a nice foundation—including a sturdy entry step—that will last many growing seasons. It’s all done without mortar.

Rick is modest about the task, but it looks great.

“The garden retaining wall was a pretty simple design, requiring little ingenuity, but mostly brawn…right up my alley!” says Rick.



Grandson James delights in showing off the garden to our photographer.

Here are some detail photos of the project:

If you want to take on a retaining wall of any size, FamilyHandyman.com offers these tips:

  • Bury the bottom course, or courses, of the retaining wall one tenth the height of the wall to prevent the soil behind from pushing the bottom out (Fig. B).
  • Step back the blocks, rocks or timbers to get gravity working in your favor (Fig. B). This lets the walls lean and push against the fill. Walls built perfectly vertical (Fig. C) get gravity working against them the second they start leaning outward even just a bit. Most concrete retaining wall block systems have some kind of built-in lip (Fig. D) or pin system (Fig. F) that automatically creates the step back as you build.
  • Install a base of solidly compacted material (Fig. B) so your wall stays flat. A level wall provides modular blocks, stone and timbers with more surface contact with the courses above and below them. They fit together more tightly. The more contact, the more friction and the stronger the wall. Apply these three rules, and you’ll create a strong wall. But even a well built wall won’t survive unless you take care of two troublemakers: water and uncompacted soil.

Read the whole article here.

You can have a lot of fun with easy brick and paver projects. Check out our Pinterest page for ideas that will inspire your imagination and make your home outdoors a little more special, a little bit at a time.

James plays on the sidewalk bound by lush gardens.

Early tomatoes look delicious on the brick steps into the garden.

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