The Wall - Construction

We had decided to take a week off in June 06, but the weather forecast was so good, and my back was feeling ok, so we thought we'd start the wall.

This wall is just 2.5 inches thick and was one half of the original cavity wall

Although our side of the wall wasn't too pretty, Pete & Maureen's side was awful.

This wall formed the old coal-bunker

All Pete did was grab the old bit of fencing and one half of the wall collapsed. It was no stopping us then!

Part of the wall was the old coal bunkers which had their own slab and stopped the paving short of the wall. We took the opportunity to get rid of it, but it was
"**&*$$%%" stubborn!

It did come out eventually and the edge was cast-up for the block work.

Dry run

There are at least 2 layers of patio on each side, so additional footings seemed un-necessary. Regardless, the 'A' Team moved in to get the wall built and you don't mess around with them!

Bradley & Callum thought it was great fun!

It wasn't possible to build more than 2 courses as the weight of the blocks forced the mortar out of the joints. However, 2 courses was just enough! One problem was stopping the wall drying out in the 30 degree heat. We switched to working in the evenings, which was much better.

The wall causing concern at 3 courses high The end blocks removed And the return / pier formed

It had been planned to use hollow blocks and build-in steel reinforcement rods to stiffen the fence end of the wall. (The blocks are tied into the house at the other end) Alternatively, we could have fixed a vertical steel post, bolted to the concrete, but we did neither, and future stability was brought into question with reports of a little girl being crushed under a garden wall. A quick visit to the font-of-all-knowledge (Barry & Steve at work) confirmed what we thought - "build a pier". The few end blocks were demolished and a 'full block' return created. We were happy again and back on track.

Theres a strip of felt between the wall and the house

The original design was to replace the 6 ft high wall/fence with blockwork and a thin capping, requiring 8 courses of blocks. This was reduced to 7 courses, which further eased fears.

7 courses - that's the lot!

In many ways, the return/pier has been a bonus. It hides the view down the back of the pond, which is not very pretty and also creates a nice shady spot for some ferns.

Artists impression!

We found the combination of terracotta 'creasing' tiles and a soldier course of engineering bricks too much to resist. We'll probably have 2 courses of tiles.

A big overhang? Yes, but there's render to go on both sides yet - another woeful story of incompetance to be told in due course....

It wasn't all work that week. There was the French Open tennis and some sort of football get-together. The laptop and a USB TV stick were perfect for patio living!

The new view for us. The new view from next door.

A couple of days later, the blockwork was finished and whilst the wall is not complete, we have all been pleased at how it has turned out.

The capping components laid out to check for fitting (and to preview the overall effect). The return/pier has been left 1 course short of the main wall to emphasise the main capping. The lower wall has just a single tile capping.

Mortar patchwork levelling Fern corner looks better all of the time.

After each lift of blockwork, the left-over mortar has been laid on the floor to level up a depression in the slab and make paving easier to lay. The cables, which supply the pond pump and garden lights, will eventually be laid under the end paving slabs. The gap between the slabs and wall will have a pebble infil to match the rest of the patio. The wall return helps to contain the pebbles at that point.

The creasing courses and brick-on-edge capping were completed over a couple more days. Fortunately, the tiles and bricks will clean-up nicely.

Then for the rendering, which has never been my strong point. However, this time I had 'plastering sand' and 'plasticiser'. The first panel of the basecoat went on easier than I thought it would. It was the corners and the proximity of the Wisteria that gave the most problems. Now we wait a week for it to dry, then apply the top coat!

Pete still has his side to do (when the kitchen is finished), but it still looks better than what was there before!

. . . . .

The top coat of render didn't go quite as well as the base in that it was too hot that day and blending the edges of the various batches together proved impossible. So, switch to plan B!

Honest, there was a plan B - I'd always had in my mind the idea of having a 'rustic wall'. As the smooth finish was not now possible without another skim of render, out came a coarse rasp (borrowed from an old friend almost 20 years ago ) and the wall surface was 'distressed' - a very satisfying process. The effect is not that noticable from a distance, during the day, but switch on the uplighters at night and wow, I love it!

Although the pier hasn't been rendered yet, I couldn't resist slopping a bit of paint on and adding a few finishing touches.

Now, is it Spanish, French, Italian ..... or just Mediteranean?

The candle frame and gecko came from Hampton Court flower show and were bought for the wall.