Mixing mortar for your garden projects
This article is aiming to show you how you can mix small amounts of
mortar without a cement mixer.
Most mortar ranges from 6 to 1 (6 parts sand to 1 part cement) for brick/block/slab
laying or a stronger mix of 4 to 1 which is can be used for pond linings
and areas that are constantly wet. Mortar is best mixed on a hard surface,
ideally a wooden board covered with a strong plastic sheet. Firstly
using a bucket to measure out the sand i.e 6 parts, then the cement
i.e 1 part and mix together until the whole mix has a even colour. The
advantage of mixing on a plastic sheet is that it is easy to keeping
the mixture together.
Fill a bucket with some water and add a few drops of washing up liquid
which will act as a plasterser. This helps to create bubbles in the
mortar making it easier to use as you adjust the levels off the bricks
or paving on the mortar bed. Other additives which can be used are a
waterproofer for a pond or waterfall, dries that create a range of colours,
and additives that stop the mortar freezing in the winter.
Once the mortar has been mixed in the dry form you should create a mound
with a hollow centre and add a small amount of water. Next working from
the outside start to turn the mix into the middle so that the water
is soaked up. Then mix throughly and repeat until the mortar is starting
to look as it does in the final photo.
The amount of wateradded to the mix will largely depend on the job you
are undertaking, but in general it should on the dry side allowing you
to add more water if needed. A mix should last for about 30 minutes
to a hour depending on the air temperature. Once used mortar normally
takes about 3 days to set in full, the slower it dries within reason
the stronger it wil be, for this reason if is often a good idea to cover
the new brick work or patio with a sheet for a day or two after construction
in the hottest part of summer.
Finally if you find yourself using mortar in the winter it will need
to be covered overnight in frosty weather to protect from freezing.
If you need any further advice contact the GardenAdvice advisor at