Learn how to build a garden bed using Adbri Masonry’s Versawall vertical retaining wall.
This is a pretty typical Aussie backyard. You can’t call it a garden because there’s no plants, but I can fix that, make it look a lot nicer, hide the fence, and even the next door neighbor’s shed. Now, what I’ve got in mind is a raised garden bed. Raised garden beds are a great idea for a couple of reasons. You can guarantee that your plants have got good drainage. You can guarantee that they’ve got plenty of nutrients because you’re bringing in new soil that’s light and fluffy and full of all the good stuff. Now I’m gong to use a wall that’s called Versawall. It’s got a beautiful texture and a charcoal colour so it adds a couple of dynamics to the garden. Straight away it gives you height and that extra colour. The plants will thrive, hide the fence pretty much straight away.
Now the first thing we’ve got to do is work out where the garden bed’s gonna go, put a string line out, and mark it out. Now mainly for my garden bed to be a metre wide I’m putting a Lilly pilly hedge in that I want to allow 600 mil. for it and then in front of it I’m putting some Liriope. I’m allowing 200 and then I’m allowing 200 for the block, giving me my metre. So I come off the fence finding a metre. The outside of my stake is the metre. Let’s double check it. Tie it off and we’re gonna take all the grass out. The reason I’m taking the grass out is it can grow though the soil in to your garden bed. And across the front I need to dig a footing. Now it sits on a 100 mil. of row, base compacted, but I’m gonna have to go about 300 mil. wide just so it’s nice and firm and strong.
Now Villa Board is a great, cheap and easy way to keep the garden bed off the fence. You don’t want the soil in contact with the pilings, it will end up rotting and will wash through all of these gaps in to your neighbours. But by putting this up you can retain the garden bed. Now you can’t do this if you had a sloping block and the yard retaining everything, but we’re just retaining a garden bed like this. The pressure and the weight is going down, not to the sides, so this isn’t gonna knock over your fence. Ill just tack it off with a couple of nails, work my way along, and when we backfill you won’t even see it.
Now the Versawall is dead easy to put up. You just start with a good foundation. I’m using re-based, the recycled row base. I only need 100 mil deep for what I’m putting up, three courses, and I’ve gone the 400 wide so I can fit my whacker in. I’ll get this as level as I can, but I don’t go over the top screeding it. I just want to make sure the sand and cement that I’m putting down is nice and even.
You can hire a whacker for about $60.00 for half a day and it’s important that you go over it a couple of times. If it’s really dry, dampen it down. And if it’s too wet and it’s sticking to your plate compactor, well, you can throw down a little bit of sand over the top and that’s just like greasing a tin.
Now the sand cement mix you want to spread over the top of your row base. It’s pretty simple. Just do six in one. Six sand, one cement. And when you mix it up you do it dry. Now this sand here is washed river sand. You can use that, you can use paving sand. You can use any sand you got lying around.
The best thing about these walls is you don’t have to mud up between each joint. They lock in to each other because of all these lugs here. And the corners are super strong. Now, when you’re ordering your wall one thing to take in to consideration are the corners. There are right and left corners. If you see the back of this one it’s completely different to just a normal block. What that is, is a little groove for the next block to lock in to, so this is a right meaning we are turning right. At the other end we’ll use a left and on the next course we’ll use a left so we get that bond happening. They just butt in to each other, we slide one in to there, and then we’ll set up the string line. The next course will be the opposite.
Once you set your corner up you set your string line back up. And a good tip to stop it moving round, because when you’re laying the box you’ll bang it constantly, is grab a piece of paper. I just use something torn off a cement bag. It’s important when you lay your blocks that there is an air gap, albeit even and as small as you can make it, between your block and your string line. If your block starts touching your string line you won’t get a true reading and your wall will start to creep out, up, or down.
For extra strength you backfill each course with a free draining aggregate. This is just a blue metal.
Now, for the second corner there is one tip and one trick. If you put the left hand block on top of that right hand block it looks good, but it wobbles. the reason is because the standard block that runs through here has these eight lugs. The first two hit the base of your corners.