Brick and mortar raised flowerbed

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Old 05-22-15, 07:09 AM
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Brick and mortar raised flowerbed

I am repairing a brick and mortar raised flower bed. I'm pretty sure it's about 50 years old or so.
I thought I would just reset a couple of the bricks where the mortar had disintegrated and repoint some of the crumbling mortar. When I started cleaning out the mortar I discovered that two entire courses has to be removed because the mortar joints are totally degraded. The mortar is very wet and crumbly.
I have absolutely no experience with masonry so have more than a few questions:
1. How clean do the bricks need to be before mortaring them back in place?
2. The bricks have eight (manufactured) holes all the way through and the top course of bricks was finished off with cement. Some of those bricks are still held together with the cement. Can I reset them that way or do I need to break them apart? I don't plan on removing the cement from the top of the bricks as I'm pretty sure I couldn't get it off and it seems quite sound.
3. Should I try to do something to keep the soil away from the bricks so that they won't be wet all the time? Poly behind the bricks?
4. How long should I wait before I fill the bed back up with soil?
 
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Old 05-22-15, 07:31 AM
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An angle grinder would make you life a lot easier. Harbor Freight has them for about $25. With that & a cement chisel, you can remove the old mortar, from the bricks. It's better to separate all the bricks. Don't use any sealer between the soil & the bricks. The mortar will set enough, in a few days, to back fill with soil. You don't have to wait for a full cure.
 
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Old 05-22-15, 09:09 AM
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Normally I use a masonry hammer and chisel. A grinder can be faster but it's very dusty & noisy. If the mortar is really bad you can often just rub two bricks together and grind off the mortar and use the hammer or chisel for the tougher spots.

Any soft or loose mortar needs to come off. If you find spots that are really stuck good then it's not worth breaking the brick trying to get the mortar off. I'll knock down the mortar enough to leave room for new mortar when re-building the wall.

I would provide some method of drainage in the flower bed. Maybe drill some holes down low. Then you could coat the inside of the bed with foundation waterproofing or tar.
 
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Old 05-23-15, 10:26 PM
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You can avoid having more crumbling mortar problems in the future by installing a waterproof liner between the brick walls and the soil. Heavy, flexible plastic liners for outdoor pools are popular in the U.S., and something similar might be available where you live. Also helpful would be sealing a few weep hole runs (to holes in the bottom of the liner, at the low end) to assist in moisture draining, instead of building up inside and wanting to seep out through the mortar joints.
 
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