Laying bricks is not as easy as you might think; it might look like you simply add some mortar to the brick and stack them in a row, and you easily have a new retainer wall outside. However, the job is much more involved than that. To ensure you manage your next bricklaying job properly, note a few simple but very important tips, and remember that if the job seems overwhelming, you might be better off calling a contractor to ensure it's done right.
The mortar is not actual cement; mortar is usually cement with sand added to it. If you don't get premixed mortar, be sure you check the right ratio of how to mix it properly rather than assuming that you can use driveway concrete or another similar material.
It's also good to add what is called plasticizer to the mortar. This makes it adhere better to the brick and also keeps it on the trowel more easily so you have less mess. Note too that if mortar dries up as you work, you want to throw it away and start a new batch. Adding water only makes mortar too runny to adhere properly to the brick. You also don't want to start with mortar that is too wet; when you add bricks to the stack, you'll need to push them down and into the mortar so it adheres, and if the mortar is too thin and runny, it will simply drip out of these layers of bricks and not be thick enough to hold them in place.
Not all bricks will have holes in them but if they don't, they should have an indentation on one side. This is called a frog, and you want to start your bottom layer of bricks with the frog side up; the smooth layer on the bottom will keep the bricks level. Continue to stack bricks with this indentation or frog on the top side; this allows the mortar to sit between the bricks. You can then put your last layer of bricks with the frog side down, for an even look across the top of the bricks.
You also want to use a carpenter's level often when laying brickwork; be sure you check the evenness of your work after putting down just a few bricks rather than at the end of an entire layer. This will allow you to correct any bricks that are out of place quickly, easily, and before the mortar starts to dry.