A reader's General Construction question: Planter box wall?

Victoria S.   from   Spencer, United States   had this Planter box wall question.

I am wanting to build a wall with cinder blocks that is 2' x 16'. What kind of mortar will I need and do I need to have a foundation?
Will I need to use rebar like it shows in your picture.
Do I really have to fill in the holes. I was wanting to use them as planters

Bill's reply

Hi Victoria, For non structural work like a wall to planter beds, only 2 feet high, you can just about get away with anything. It is really up to you to judge if you need to use rebar or fill some of the cores. I guess it depends if you can get some cheap and how much time you want to spend.

  • Even so I'd say put a small foundation in. Say 12" wide and 6" deep.
  • If you can get some odd lengths of mesh or thin rebar then drop them in, but if this is a hassle then don't bother, maybe make the foundation a touch deeper to compensate.
  • The foundation will make the whole wall a lot stronger,
  • This also gives you a flat, solid surface to lay the blocks on. Which will make the block laying a lot easier and you will end up with a neater job.
  • You can mix the concrete on site, hire a small electric mixer .
  • If you try to mix the concrete and mortar just with a shovel, on the ground or in a wheelbarrow, you tend to get tired and then skimp the work. If you use a mixer it is a lot quicker and easier and you tend to do a lot better job. <
  • Add some stone to your mortar mix for the foundation.
  • For the mortar use 1 shovel of cement to 4 or 5 shovels of sand.
  • You can buy liquid synthetic lime/mortar plasticizer at a hardware store, this will make the mortar easy to work with.
  • For a small job like this I wouldn't bother, I'd just put a small squirt of dish washing liquid into each mix of mortar and that will make it workable.
Best of luck with it.

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