Stop for at least ten minutes for every hour to assess your progress, have a pause and plan the next stage. Do your calculations and order materials when you are fresh and take photographs of each stage of the progress; you will be able to show them proudly in years to come. Take your time, and bring in help if some part of the job will over stretch you. If you come across obstacles like huge rocks consider keeping them as part of your design.
The main thing is to build the wall upright in the right place and with all the layers or courses of brick or block horizontal with staggered vertical joints.The key to success is in mixing of the mortar, which ideally should have the consistency of stiff mashed potatoes; if it is too dry the bricks will not readily bond to it. However, if it is too wet, the bricks will slide about. If possible watch a brick layer at work and try to emulate his mortar. Be careful not to add too much water at the end of the mixing process as if the mix becomes too wet the only way to stiffen it up is to add more sand and cement, which can easily result in the over filling of the mixer.
Trial and error is the only way to learn, however once you have got it right once it is easy to do the same thing again, a bit like riding a bicycle.
Use a string line to show where the bricks should be laid by wrapping the string around a brick, pulling the line over another and pulling the ends apart until the line is straight. Do a dry run without any mortar just touching ( or kissing ) the line with the bricks without moving the line.
Allow for a 15 mm bed of mortar below the bottom brick and carefully reset the line so that the top edge of the brick will kiss the line
Remove the bricks and lay down the mortar so that the entire bottom of the brick is on mortar. Place each brick frog uppermost on the mortar and bed it down until it is in the correct position. Place some mortar on the ends of each brick before placing it so that you will have a 10 mm joint between each brick. If a brick is too low, lift it from the mortar bed, add fresh mortar and re-bed it.
Do not hurry the early process, it will rapidly become easier. Once laid a brick should not be touched again as that movement will break the seal between the brick and the mortar; if this happens the brick must be removed and the mortar and the brick replaced. So be careful not to knock any new brickwork. Do not begin laying the next brick until you are completely satisfied that the last one is correctly positioned.
When a row of bricks is complete, remove the excess mortar by slicing it off with the trowel. The pattern of the brickwork is called the bond and it is this decorative arrangement of bricks that gives a wall its strength; it is important that the vertical joints do not occur near each other, as it weakens the wall and looks unsightly.
The purpose of foundations is to provide a level and stable base on which to build. Foundations should generally be twice as wide as the wall that is to be built on them. The depth of the foundations varies but for most pond work 250mm is deep enough; however if the base material is unstable, or liable to crack and heave such as clay, it is wise to err on the side of caution and dig down to 500mm. Fill the majority of the void with hardcore and compact it by beating it down with a heavy hammer or by using a vibrating compaction machine before filling up to the required depth with concrete.
Always wear gloves as splashes can irritate and burn the skin. If you do get concrete on your skin wash it off with plenty of water immediately.When you are moving the concrete from the mixer to the point of laying, do not overfill the barrow, as any slops will be unsightly, kill grass and be difficult to clean up afterwards. Also a heavy wheelbarrow full of liquid can be hard to control over uneven ground.Start in one corner and work backwards, achieving the finished level with you float or tamping bar before moving on to the next section. In the same way as you would ice a cake, put an appropriate amount of concrete in the middle and then spread and manipulate the concrete making sure that you have sufficient before pushing it down to the final level. Work only in one direction at a time and do not leave any unfinished sections before moving on. Do not be rushed by the person delivering the concrete to you (if you are so lucky) and leave it in the barrow until you are ready to receive it.When you have finished laying a section, immediately clean all you tools and put the unused concrete to good use. Never be tempted to bury it.
Measuring and Marking
Use the carpenter's maxim "measure it twice and cut it once" and always make a note of your measurements. Keep a good-quality carpenter's pencil handy for marking out on wood. When ordering bricks, blocks, sand and concrete, allow 10% for wastage.Road marking paints of various colour's are available from builders' merchants and are ideal for marking out lines. Clear the nozzles after each use.
Fixing a non-flexible liner
1. The important thing is not to leave any voids beneath the liner, as when it is filled with water it will be strained and may crack.
2. Try to dig a hole to match the shape of the shell, allowing for at least 25 mm of sand all round. When you have achieved this, shovel a small amount of sand all around the excavation.
3. By placing and removing the shell you will be able to see all the places where the sand has touched the shell allowing you to build up the sand in areas where it has not touched.
4. By repeating this procedure of adding and removing sand, the bottom section of the shell should sit evenly on a bed of sand.
5. When you are satisfied that no more can be done by this method finally place the shell and fill up the voids at the side using a stick to push the sand and compact it.
6. When the edges are nearly full put a hosepipe into the sand and when the area is soaking compact the sand where you can fill any remaining voids.
7. It is then safe to fill the pond.
Preparing the pond area for lining : Because butyl and other liners are damaged by sharp objects such as flints it is critical that during the building of a pond they are protected. Old carpet ( of a synthetic, non-rotting type ) can be used as an underlay, although modern geo-textiles are readily available and easier to work with in a secure way.Consider the subsoil where the pond is to be. If it is naturally draining and is not affected by the local water table, no further action need be taken; however, if the subsoil may hold some water (such as clay or shale for example) or the natural water table may come up during the winter, you will need to create and escape for any water that might accumulate under the liner. Dig a trench 300 mm wide by 300 mm deep from the lowest point in the excavation, following the contours of the excavation towards the (downhill) lowest side of the site. End the trench 800 mm outside the excavated area. Place a 100 mm perforated land drain in the trench and fill with 10 mm gravel.