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brick column pergola

By March 19th, 2024No Comments

With pergolas you can make the most of the many beautiful climbers that are just waiting to be grown, and they also add that vital vertical element to your garden. Most gardeners use rustic poles for a pergola, but if you make one from brick piers and sawn timber the impact will be that much greater and your garden will have a stronger sense of design.
Build your pergola to a size that suits your garden. If your garden is small, don’t make it too long or too large. On the other hand, if you have a large garden and want your pergola to provide a focal point, then you can build a substantial structure.

The step-by-step instructions given here show how to make a pergola pier from bricks, but if you wish you can use small concrete walling blocks instead. These may be more appropriate if your pergola links with a patio where concrete walling blocks have been used, or in a garden where there is extensive concrete paving. Brick is a better choice if you have a path or patio made of bricks or clay pavers.

How to Assemble

Start by preparing a footing of concrete, at least 9 in (23 cm) thick, over a bed of hard- core. Make sure it will extend for at least 6 in (15 cm) beyond the extent of the brickwork.
Pergola pillars are tall, so the hollow cavity will be in need of some reinforcement. Use 0.7-in (16-mm) steel reinforcing bars (available from good builders’ merchants), and set the bar in the concrete footing, as shown in the picture.
It may also be necessary to extend the reinforcing bar for a tall pillar. If so, then you should overlap the two bars by about 18 in (45 cm), and secure them together firmly with galvanised wire.

Use four bricks for each course, laying them in a simple bond as shown in the illustration.

Be particularly conscientious about checking the vertical alignment with a spirit-level as each course is laid.
Every time you have laid another six courses of bricks, pour some concrete mix into the cavity, always making sure at the same time that the reinforcing rod remains vertical.

When the pier has been built to the height that you want, cap it with tiles or a small concrete slab. You can buy flat clay tiles that can be built into quite ornamental designs, but keep it simple unless you are confident about this.
You can use a small pier cap or small paving slab instead, and this is the best choice if you use walling blocks instead of bricks for the pillar. What- ever you cap the pillar with must be flat, to support the pergola timbers.
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Sizing up the problems

To look right, your pergola should have a width and height that are in proportion to each other, and that are also appropriate for your garden.
Ideally, your pergola should be wide enough for two people to walk through it side by side. Bear in mind that if you grow prickly plants like climbing or rambling roses, you need to allow for thorny stems growing out at the sides as well as hanging from the overheads.
The height should be at least 6 ft 6 in (2 m), or perhaps 1 ft (30 cm) higher if you plan to grow climbers over the crossbeams. Hanging, and especially thorny, stems can be a hazard if they’re not tied in.
Seasoned hardwood makes a pergola like this very expensive, yet ordinary softwood is unlikely to last so well (it should always be treated with a preservative). The most practical option is Western red cedar, or a softwood impregnated with a preservative that is safe for use with plants.

Cut and assemble the timber beams on the ground, without screwing any joints together, to make sure that everything fits. This is much easier than trying to make adjustments when working above head level.
The exact method of fixing the beams to the pillars will depend on your choice of capping. You may be able to mortar dowels or bolts into the concrete reinforcement, or even use the tip of the reinforcing rod, with a hole of appropri- ate size drilled in the beam to slip over it.
Otherwise secure the beams to the pillars with bolts set in mortar.
You should first secure the beams that run along the length of the pergola, ensuring that any joins are positioned over the pillar caps for additional strength and support. Then secure the crossbeams in place with screws, or galvanised nails driven in at an angle.

A pillared pergola not only makes an impressive garden feature, but provides the ideal support for climbers

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

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