Bricks are an incredibly versatile, durable, environmentally friendly, affordable material, available in a wide range of colors and sizes. They go well with just about every style of garden or architecture. From formal English gardens to rustic retreats, arts and crafts style to Spanish mission style, bricks are a workhorse of a material that never looks out of place. They are a timeless design choice that have been used for centuries by a variety of cultures. And they complement quite well with just about any other building material out there.
Bricks can be used in both dryset and wetset applications for flatwork, set in a number of patterns based on your design preferences, and used not just for flatwork but for outdoor fireplaces, raised planter beds, deck or porch support columns, bedding edging, and a number of other outdoor uses.
The color options for brick are not just limited to the traditional brick red. Most brick colors tend to be on the red side of the spectrum, including browns, pinks, oranges, and tans, however additional colors are available including blues and whites often for just a few pennies more a piece. Most bricks measure roughly 4” x 8” x 2.5”, however those sizes change slightly based on the specific type of brick and the intended installation methods. “Paver” bricks (not to be confused with paver stones) measure a true 4” x 8”, allowing for tight joints with no spacing in dryset applications. “Modular” bricks measure approximately 3 5/8” x 7 5/8”, allowing for joint spacing, and “standard” bricks measure roughly 3 5/8” x 8” allowing for joints in one dimension. Additional sizes are also available based on your design and installation.
Most new bricks run between 65 and 80 cents apiece, translating to roughly between $3 to $3.50 a square foot. Many suppliers also offer used or salvaged bricks that I’ve seen as low as 30 cents apiece. Compare those costs with paver stones, that typically run about $4 a square foot for materials, or flagstone that starts around $6.50 a square foot, and you can see why bricks are an affordable choice.
But what do I like most of all about brick? It’s the artisan look that combines a naturally made earthen material with manmade structures. After all, what is a garden but man’s imprint on nature. It’s a timeless look that allows for personal expressionism. Just as in nature, no two snowflakes or rocks are the same, no two handcrafted bricks are the same either. Sure you may find more perfectionism in manmade paver stones or concrete, but what true better way to express yourself than with brick.