Brick, Stone and Concrete Masonry

Course CodeBSS101
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Build the Hard Landscape

Stone, brick and concrete are common materials used in creating both buildings and landscape features. The garden designer needs to understand these materials in order to appropriately designate their use in a design. The landscape builder needs to understand their use so as to ensure a quality and durable build.

This course is a study of the materials and techniques used to create buildings and landscape features from walls and fences, to pergola pillars and garden sheds. It is of value to anyone who is involved with landscape or property management; both maintenance or construction.

It relates to public, commercial and residential construction.

This is a course that can benefit:

  • Landscape contractors
  • Garden designers
  • Hardware or building supply retailers
  • Handyman services
  • Gardeners
  • Park managers
  • Builders labourers
  • Farmers
  • Property managers


Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Masonry
    • Terminology
    • Masonry Tools
    • Surveying tools
    • Ready mix or hand mixed concrete
    • Masonry materials
    • Types of stone - chararcteristics of different stone
    • Legal requirements
    • Foundations
    • Joining blocks and types of joints
  2. Cement and Concrete
    • Introduction
    • Cement terminology
    • Type 1, 2 & 3 cement
    • ASTM cement standards
    • Cement types - rapid hardening, quick setting, hydraulic, low heat, suphate resistant, vlast furnace slag, high alumina, white, hydrographic, etc
    • Diffferent limes - slaked, hydraulic, dolomatic, etc
    • Mortar types
    • Using mortar
    • Concrete - mixes, water quantity, additives
    • Difference between drying and curing
    • PSI strength
    • Concrete masonry units
    • Concrete foundations
    • Reinforcement
    • Excavations
    • Formwork - slab, wall, etc
  3. Construction Method and Structural Considerations
    • Setting out levels
    • Taking levels
    • Leveling without a leveling instrument
    • Understanding loads - different forces: compression, bending shear
    • Types of walls
    • Support strength
    • Insulation
    • Resistance to dampness
    • Fire resistance
    • Making construction stronger - buttresses, corners, wall openings, arches, lintels
    • Dealing with movement
    • Expansion & contraction of materials
    • Movement joints - expansion joints, control joints, wall inserts
    • Using Moisture controls
    • Using Metal
    • Copings and caps
  4. Working with Brick
    • Moulded, dry press & wire cut bricks
    • Brick colour
    • Types of bricks - common bricks, facing bricks, engineering bricks, fire bricks, concrete etc.
    • Laying bricks
    • Bonding - choice of bond
    • Locking construction in place - joints, ties
    • How to cut bricks
    • Damp proofing
    • Building a brick garden wall
    • Constructing brick arches
    • Piers
    • Cavity wall construction
    • Wall openings
  5. Working with Stone
    • Virgin stone
    • Split stone
    • Cut stone
    • Stone types - sedimentary, igneous & metamorphic stone
    • How to cut stone
    • Finishing a stone surface
    • Stone walls - in buildings, stone cladding & veneers
    • Stone walls in landscaping - retaining walls, mortared retaining walls
    • Free standing stone walls - dry stone wall construction
  6. Fireplaces, Chimneys and Barbecues
    • Heat and smoke impacts
    • Fireplace terminology
    • How to consatruct fireplaces and chimneys
    • Hearths, Openings, Troat and camber, surrounds and firebacks
    • Chimneys and Flues
    • Chimneys that don't work
    • Indoor slow combustion burners
    • Brick barbecues
  7. Landscape Applications & Hybrid construction
    • Paving
    • Concrete & laying concrete paths
    • Setting time
    • Hints when concreting
    • Concrete finishes
    • Laying pavers
    • Finishing
    • Choosing pavers
    • Choosing patterns
    • Principles of design
    • Outdoor steps
    • Ramps
    • Building steps
    • Other garden features -sunken gardens, furniture, pedestals, wishing well, letter box, follies, water features
  8. Repair and Miscellaneous Work
    • Paints and sealants - for brick, paving and driveways, etc
    • Plastering masonry walls - Dry lining, rendering, wall tiles
    • Fixing plaques to masonry
    • Damage masonry walls - stains, cleaning brickwork, using acid solution, removing efflorescence
    • Surface damage and structural damage
    • Plant damage
    • Repointing
    • Problems with paving - subsidence, weeds, drainage issues, root damage, stains
    • Miscellaneous uses for mnasonry
  9. Building Applications - houses, farm and commercial buildings
    • Choosing materials to use
    • Choosing a site
    • Soil suitability
    • Soil drainage - laying drains, types of drains
    • Setting out buildings
    • Basic design considerations
    • Legalities
    • Special Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


Whenever embarking on a construction project, your choice of masonry materials may be at first influenced by cost but there are other factors that should be considered too. It’s important to always recognise that different types of materials have different physical characteristics. 

Heat/cold bank: some materials will provide better insulation. Some absorb and hold heat (creating a heat bank affect) which may be desirable in some climates but not others.

Shrinkage: some materials may expand and shrink more with temperature and moisture changes – potentially causing them to deteriorate. Mixing materials with different characteristics may be a problematic. If two materials are bonded together and they expand or shrink at dramatically different rates; either the materials break or the bond does.

Availability: putting aside any cost considerations; some types of materials may be difficult to obtain in some locations or it may be slow to get supplies, slowing down the overall construction timeline.

Weathering: different materials have different responses to the local climate or microclimate on site. Although it is not always possible to know how this might affect the materials making note of which types of material weather well in your area is useful knowledge.



All sorts of different laws exist to regulate the construction of buildings and permanent structures. In many countries, building work is highly regulated whereas in some others there is less regulation. Generally speaking, the more developed countries tend to have tighter controls over construction work through laws and regulations.

Some jurisdictions are more likely to prosecute if regulations are breached; while others may not prosecute unless they receive serious complaints. However, it is prudent to be aware of local regulations if you are going to undertake any building work. You should always seek council approval before undertaking any major construction work.  

Building regulations are normally specific to a particular type of construction, for instance:

  • Regulations which commonly apply to buildings used for accommodation e.g. homes, hotels, hostels.
  • Regulations for commercial properties which are non-residential e.g. offices, warehouses.
  • Regulations for buildings used by members of the public e.g. shops, restaurants.

Regulations may be less stringent for construction of a garden shed compared to a factory or house. Landscape constructions (e.g. garden walls) may also be less regulated but in some places there will be restrictions (e.g. in some jurisdictions it may be illegal to build walls above a specified height without a permit). In many places, a building permit may be required to construct a garden wall or shed. 


Benefits of Studying This Course

This course is designed to be of benefit to people who are interested in learning about how to build foundations, walls, driveways, buildings or other solid constructions, for self-interest, business or work purposes. It will also be of value to those who are operating an existing businesses which involve masonry work.

Take this course if you would like to:

  • Find ways to improve an existing construction business.
  • Enhance your employability in construction and maintenance positions.
  • Improve your knowledge of building techniques.
  • Develop your skillset for freelance work in construction-related fields.

This course may be studied by itself or along with other modules as part of a learning package.


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