When you have limited yard space due to city living like we do, you may look for any spot available to brighten up the yard and plant flowers.
I've been wanting to build a brick ring around our tree between the sidewalk and the street for quite a while. Once we noticed the bricks on sale at Menard's we decided it was time.
They delivered our bags of top soil and bricks (rather than us making ten or more trips to cart it all in our car) and I got to work that very day.
After I measured and laid out the spacing for my bricks, I recruited Brother Bear to dig the trench around the tree. The ground wasn't too uneven, but I knew if we didn't dig at least a shallow trench, the bricks wouldn't lay properly. If you're going to do it, you have to do it right! Right?
Then the leveling takes place. Each brick, one at a time needs to have the ground smoothed, leveled and filled in as required. You should make sure that if there is a dip or your ground slopes that the bricks at least match up one to another. Now, I did not use a level in this process. When we built the retaining wall we did, but since I was only going three bricks high I made sure that it was flat from brick to brick but wasn't worried with absolute perfection.
Once you have the first layer done, the hard work is virtually over. (Other than the brick-carrying, of course!) Using a caulk gun and cement-like mortar, I put a squiggly layer on the bottom brick and lay the next over it, covering the joining gap. I forgot to take a picture of this step. So just picture a squiggle of cement glue and then me putting a brick over the squiggle. This keeps the bricks from shifting too much.
The trick to the second layer is chiseling your last brick in half. Make sure you're wearing protective goggles and not near any neighbor's cars...your eyes and your neighbors will appreciate this. I used a large brick chisel with a hand guard and my hammer. It doesn't seem to be an exact science and by the end I was just hauling away at the brick with my hammer. But it finally fit and no one is the wiser!
My last level was the easiest as it was just cement glue and laying the bricks on to finish it off. Hubby dumped all my dirt into the ring and I leveled it up and topped it off with a bag of Miracle Grow mix for extra nutrients.
Then comes my favorite part: the planting! I picked out black, dark purple, blue, and white as my primary colors and planted bulbs of tulips, muscari and hyacinths. Among those I put a good amount of bright white & yellow daffodils. I should have a good mix of early, mid and late spring flowers.
Above ground, you can see a few pots of cheerful fall mums. I wanted this to be as maintenance-free of a garden as possible, I chose all repeat customers. Gotta love the perennial! Most likely next year in late spring after the bulbs are done I'll plant piles of petunias, pansies and marigolds among the mums. This may also be a perfect spot for either morning glories and/or sunflowers.
Now I just have to wait until April. I hate waiting.